During March 2007, a small salvage excavation was conducted in a private building plot, at the base of the steep southwestern side of Tel Gat Hefer (Permit No. A-5072*; map ref. NIG 230125/738090; OIG 180125/238090). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y. Alexandre, assisted by Y. Laban (administration) and workers provided by the plot owner.
The tell is located on a flat summit that rises above the village of Mash-had, between Nazareth and Kafr Kanna in the Lower Galilee. Previous excavations on the large mound of Gat Hefer had been carried out in 1992 on top of the tell (Areas A, B; ‘Atiqot 44:143–170) and in 1995, on the northern lower terrace of the tell (Areas C, D; ‘Atiqot 44:97–138). These excavations revealed significant architectural remains from Early Bronze II–III, Middle Bronze II–III, Iron I, Iron IIA–B and the Late Persian period.
The archaeological remains in the present excavation (25 sq m) were minimal, consisting of c. 20 small field stones, lined up in a north–south oriented row, which were uncovered c. 1 m below the original surface. These stones could hardly be considered a wall as they were loosely laid next to each other and not associated with a floor or with pottery. The few potsherds recovered from the excavation were body fragments dated to Iron IIA–B, but these may well have been washed down from the tell itself, c. 150 m to the north and at a higher level than the excavation area. A cluster of small field stones without any associated pottery was found c. 0.5 m below the row of stones. An almost sterile layer of soft, light brown soil was exposed at a depth of c. 2 m below surface.
The steep slopes of the tell seem to have been, in effect, the remains of fortification walls and possibly glacis that surrounded the tell. The present excavation indicates that in this specific area no buildings were constructed beyond the town wall, although on other sides of the tell and at different periods, buildings may have existed beyond the fortifications.