During June–July 2005, a trial excavation was conducted at Balfour Street in Nahariyya (Permit No. A-4519; map ref. NIG 2088/7677; OIG 1588/2677), prior to construction. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Qoral Bonē Ha-Galil Company, was directed by N. Getzov (photography) and Y. Lerer, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), A. Hajian and T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), P. Fartosh and D. Gahali (aerial photography, Sky Balloons), A. Shapiro (GPS), D. Syon (metal detection), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), B. Brandl (preliminary examination of a scarab and a situla) and R. Frankel (scientific consultation).
The excavation area (c. 110 sq m) was located on the western slope of Tel Nahariyya. Eight strata were exposed, among them five occupation layers that dated to the Persian period (Figs. 1, 2). Previous excavations at the tell revealed settlement remains from the Middle Bronze Age and the Persian period; a few of the remains were from the Late Bronze Age and the Hellenistic period (HA 74-75:8 [Hebrew]; ESI 2:75; 19:7*–8*).
A dark gray layer of clay (3.0–3.5 m above sea level) was discovered at the bottom of the excavation. No ancient artifacts were found and the excavation was suspended at this level due to flooding (probably not from the water table).
Stratum VII. This stratum consisted of a layer of coarse sand (zifzif; 3.5–4.6 m above sea level).
Stratum VI. A stone wall whose foundation was built into the layer of zifzif (Stratum VII) was exposed; it was preserved over 2 m high. This wall continued to be used until Stratum II. A refuse pit and an accumulation of soil that was mixed with numerous potsherds and animal bones were discovered next to the wall. A preliminary examination of the pottery fragments indicated that the stratum is dated to the fifth century BCE.
Stratum V. Sections of walls, whose foundations were built of two courses of kurkar and their upper parts apparently consisted of mud bricks, were discovered. Among the finds in this stratum was an Egyptian situla (height 10 cm; Fig. 3) and fragments of a grotesque clay mask. A standing stone (mazzeva), carved out of a kurkar slab (height 1.3 m; Fig. 4), was incorporated in a wall of a building from Stratum IV, which seems to have originated in Stratum V. These finds may attest to the presence of a cultic center.
Strata IV-II. Building remains that were constructed in a similar manner from narrow mud-brick walls (width 0.5–0.6 m) with stone foundations were discovered in each of these three strata. A silver coin from Stratum IV minted in Tyre dated it to the fourth century BCE.
Stratum I. This stratum consisted of a sterile zifzif layer that covered the settlement remains from the Persian period. This accumulation was part of the sand dunes that covered the region of the site, which was not reoccupied until the city of Nahariyya was established in the 1930s.
The finds from the excavation were numerous and included ceramic artifacts, most of which dated to the Persian period, among them locally produced vessels, wine jars from various Mediterranean ports and black-glazed Attic vessels, as well as a few potsherds that dated to the Iron Age. Metal objects included arrowheads, lead weights for fishing nets, large needles that were apparently used to repair nets and toggle pins. An especially interesting find was a lens-shaped, Phoenician basalt millstone, used for milling flour and equipped with a pair of notches for grasping it. A scarab that dated to the Iron Age was also found.
The excavation illustrates the importance of the settlement in the Persian period. The meager finds from the Iron Age indicate that a small settlement was situated at the site. The complete absence of finds from the Middle Bronze Age shows that the remains of fortifications, which had previously been exposed in the north of the tell, were part of a citadel rather than an urban settlement. The lack of finds from the Hellenistic period probably indicates that the settlement remains from this period, uncovered at the site in the past, were part of a small settlement that remained at the site.