During September 2002 a trial excavation was conducted on the lower western slope of Zefat (Permit No. A-3708; map ref. NIG 24639–41/763085–125; OIG 19639–41/263085–125) following plans for new construction in the Hagana neighborhood. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Cohen (photography), with the assistance by Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), E.J. Stern (ceramic reading) and c. 20 laborers from the Qiryat Shemona and Zefat labor bureaus.
The excavation area was south-southwest of the Zefat fortress, c. 800 m as the crow flies and c. 685 m above sea level. According to ancient sources the neighborhood in this area was called al-Watta (the lower). The remains of the Arab neighborhood, located here until 1948, could be discerned above surface and most of its buildings were ruinous and in a state of advanced collapse. The area was used as a neighborhood refuse dump, heaped with garbage and debris.
Two of the four opened squares were inside the later building remains and the other two were on surface. Remains of three buildings above bedrock were exposed in three of the squares, dating to the Mamluk period on account of ceramic and numismatic finds. An occupational sequence was noted in two of the three buildings, extending from the Mamluk through the Ottoman periods until the British Mandate times.
The excavation indicates that the neighborhood was established during the Mamluk period and continued to exist until the modern era.