The excavation area is located on a chalk hill, at the foothills of the Samarian Mountains and not far from the city of Taiyiba. Some of the other caves on the hill had been excavated in the past (ESI
19:32*–33*). The current excavation is a resumption of a previous one (HA-ESI 117
), lying next to the excavated cave or its extension. Considerable damage was caused to the cave as a result of paving the road. Its ceiling collapsed inward; its southern, northern and western sides were completely destroyed, creating a steep cliff that precluded excavation, although some visible artifacts protruded from it.
The removal of the stone collapse from the cave exposed a fill that contained numerous fragments of pottery vessels and clay ossuaries from the Chalcolithic period. A pit that contained human interments and artifacts dating to the Late Bronze Age was discovered in the center of the cave. Upon completing the excavation of the pit and the exposure of the in situ Chalcolithic finds, the excavation was suspended due to objections raised by a faction of Ultra Orthodox Jews. All the finds were stolen, save a bracelet.
The remainder of the area in the cave (c. 2.0 × 7.5 m), between the wall remains and the cliff, was excavated.
The artifacts from the Chalcolithic period were found scattered throughout the entire area of the cave, except for the burial pit from the Late Bronze Age. The ceramic finds included fragments of characteristic pottery vessels, such as V-shaped bowls with red painted rims, cornets of light color clay that are decorated with red-painted stripes, coarse cooking pots decorated with a pattern of plastic dots below the rim, as well as many fragments of clay ossuaries and scattered, unarticulated human bones, representing at least ten individuals of different ages, including adults and children.
Burial from the Late Bronze Age. A pit or a pit grave was excavated within the Chalcolithic layer inside the cave. The burial consisted of a cranium vault, teeth and bones of a male, 20–40 years of age, as well as the cranium vault of a child. The location of the bones seems to indicate that the male individual was placed in anatomic articulation. Near the interred were complete pottery vessels of Cypriot origin, mostly Base-Ring jugs and juglets (bilbils), as well as a bronze bracelet (Fig. 1).
Fragments of ossuaries and a scatter of human bones and pottery vessels from the Chalcolithic period indicate that the cave was used for burial during this period. The pit from the Late Bronze Age was dug into the Chalcolithic fill and denotes a single burial phase in the cave.