During June 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted in Zefat (Permit No. A-4505; map ref. NIG 24630–40/76320–33; OIG 19630–40/26320–33), prior to the paving of a road in a new neighborhood. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Cohen (photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration) and V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting).
The excavation area (3 × 7 m, c. 21 sq m; Fig. 1) was located on the western slope of Zefat. Two phases of construction were revealed in the excavation. Next to the excavation area, another excavation was conducted in 2004 (Permit No. A-4210).
Phase 1. (Figs. 2–4). A massive wall (W2; width c. 1 m) was discovered. It was oriented east–west, preserved 2.5 m high and built of two rows of ashlar stones, with a core of fieldstones. The bottom part of the wall was not exposed. A drainage channel (Channel A) that sloped westward (at a gradient of c. 40º) was built parallel to the southern side of the wall. Another drainage channel (Channel B) from the southeast was connected to Channel A. Both drainage channels were paved with flagstones. One of the covering stones of Channel B was preserved in situ. The two channels were filled with gray soil, without stones and contained a few artifacts. A break discerned in the eastern part of W2 caused Channel B to drop off at a 20º angle. These were probably the result of a landslide that covered the building with soil and occurred during an earthquake.
Phase 2. Two meager walls, built on the soil fill that covered the wall and the drainage channels, were exposed.
The finds from both phases included fragments of pottery vessels from the Mamluk period, a few fragments of glass vessels, animal bones and several coins from the Mamluk period. The building remains of Phase 1 were part of the city’s southwestern neighborhood during the Mamluk period (Harat al-Watta), which was densely built-up along the entire western slope. These remains reflected a high level of town planning. It seems that after the earthquake and still within the Mamluk period, the neighborhood was abandoned and never resettled.