During November 2003 a salvage excavation was conducted at Kh. el-Kalbi (Permit No. A-4021*; map ref. NIG 2050–3/7148–50; OIG 1550–3/2148–50), in the wake of installing a water pipe by the Meqorot Water Company. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by H. Torge, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam and Y. Dangor (administration), H. Khalaily (flint implements), E. Yannai (pottery consultation) and M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (find drawing).
The excavated area is located along the northern fringes of Nahal Hotmit, northeast of Qibbuz Regavim. Two salvage excavations had previously been conducted by A. Gorzalczany (HA-ESI 117; ‘Atiqot 55:83–107 [Hebrew]), 10 m to the north, revealing ancient remains from Iron I and the Persian and Hellenistic periods.
Three soil strata were identified in four squares that were opened in an area where a light gray soil layer was discerned at the side of the trench.
The upper layer was a dark farming soil mixed with numerous small and medium-sized stones, which contained a bowl from the Persian period (Fig. 1:1) and many fragments of pottery vessels from Iron I, including bowls (Fig. 1:4, 10, 15, 19), jars (Fig. 2:5, 6), a cooking pot (Fig. 2:4) and a cult stand (Fig. 2:12). A few potsherds (not drawn) from the Byzantine period were also discovered. The lithic finds consisted of four implements characteristic of the Late Pottery Neolithic period (not drawn), including three bifacial tools, two axes and an awl, and a sickle blade.
The middle layer was a light gray soil (thickness 0.3 m), c. 0.4 m below surface. The layer was leveled and uniform, indicating it was not alluvium, but rather an ancient settlement. Many fragments of pottery vessels were found, among them halves of vessels dating to the beginning of Iron I (twelfth century BCE), including bowls (Fig. 1:2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11–14, 16–18), kraters (Fig. 1:21–23), jars (Fig. 2:7–11), cooking pots (Fig. 2:1–3) and handles with reed impressions (Fig. 2:13–15). The finds are identical to the pottery vessels discovered in the previous excavations (‘Atiqot 55: Fig. 14). Numerous flint implements from the Iron Age included six sickle blades, three retouched blades and two retouched flakes (not drawn). Many cattle and a few sheep bones were also retrieved.
It can be concluded that the site was used for growing grain and raising sheep, goat and cattle, as was customary along the fringes of the eastern mountains, where dense natural forest did not need to be eliminated for agricultural purposes. This phenomenon was noted in the past by the surveyors of the Menashe hills and the Efrayim and Judah counties. The thickness of the level and the diversity of pottery vessels indicate that the area was part of a residential site or adjacent to it.
The third layer, c. 0.7–0.8 m below surface and c. 0.5 m above bedrock, was dark soil mixed with numerous small and medium stones. The slant of the layer shows it is natural alluvium. The layer contained a few potsherds from Iron I, including bowls (Fig. 1:7, 20), as well as several potsherds from Early Bronze IA (not drawn) that were not found in the previous excavations and indicate that the tell was inhabited during this period. The tell may have been occupied during the Chalcolithic period, judging by a retrieved flint adze (not drawn).