During May 2001 a survey was conducted along the fringes of Har Dov (License No. G-70/2001*; map ref. NIG 2627–31/7958–61; OIG 2127–31/2958–61) in the wake of development work for paving a road. The survey, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was conducted by H. Tahan (surveying, drafting and drawing) and M. Hartal.
Three burial caves, hewn in chalk bedrock near Kh. Shab‘a, were surveyed.
A small section of the eastern cave, which could not be entered, was exposed.
One corner of the middle cave, which contained two arcosolia, each with four burial troughs, was preserved.
The western cave (Fig. 1) was preserved almost in its entirety, except for its southern part that was damaged when the road was paved. The cave was entered by way of a square shaft (1 × 1 m), whose depth was not ascertained because its western side was destroyed. The shaft led to the cave entrance (width 0.6 m) that was higher than the floor of the chamber and apparently, several steps descended into it.The cave walls were neatly dressed and the roof was vaulted. Arcosolia were cut in three walls of the chamber (2.25 × 2.40 m), each containing four hewn burial troughs (1.7–1.8 m long, 0.65 m deep). Different-sized roof tiles covered the troughs and were affixed and reinforced with plaster (Fig. 2). Another arcosolium, blocked with alluvium, was installed in the eastern wall of the northern arcosolium; it is unclear whether it contained any burial troughs. A meticulously carved cornice was left at the top of the northern arcosolium while it was hewn. Two adjacent arcosolia were cut in the western wall of the cave, whereas in the damaged southern wall were remains of an arcosolium with four troughs. A total of sixteen troughs were discerned.
All the burial troughs were plundered and no bones were discovered. Two lamps dating to the second century CE (Fig. 3:1, 2), together with a jar (Fig. 3:3) and fragments of glass vessels were found in the troughs of the southern wall.
The caves were part of a cemetery that extended along the foot of Kh. Shab‘a. A group of shaft tombs (1.8 m deep) located on a hard limestone hill c. 100 m south of the caves was discerned. These tombs are of the type that originated in the Horan and have been found, to date, only in the northern cemetery of Banias. They probably represent the northern part of the western cemetery of Banias, which extended along the edge of the Banias plateau and the foot of the Hermon Mountain.