Square 5. A rock-hewn burial cave (Figs. 2, 3) was exposed at a depth of c. 1 m below the surface. The cave’s bedrock ceiling had collapsed and alluvium subsequently accumulated inside it. The remains of four interred individuals (I–IV) from a single burial phase were discovered underneath the alluvium, and funerary offerings were found next to them. The cave was partially excavated; hence, there are probably additional burials in it that were not exposed. The collapse of the cave and the covering of the deceased with hard clay severely damaged the bones and funerary offerings. Individuals I and II were discovered next to each other in the eastern part of the cave (L501); Individual III was exposed in the southwest of the cave and Individual IV was found in the west of the cave. Two fragments of an open bowl (Fig. 4:1, 2) and two fragments of the same jar with a tall neck and a thickened everted rim (Fig. 4:4, 5) were discovered next to Individual I; next to the deceased’s head was a bronze dagger (Figs. 5:1; 6). An open bowl with a thickened rim and a round body (Fig. 4:3) was discovered next to Individual III, as well as a disintegrated jar of the type similar to that found near Individual I. A bronze dagger was also discovered near Individual III (Figs. 5:2, 7). Individual IV was partially excavated, exposing only the leg bones; it is possible that funerary offerings were placed near the head. A concentration of rock collapse from the ceiling was exposed in the northern part of the cave (L504). Based on the inclination of the ceiling, this would appear to be the northern boundary of the cave.
The pottery vessels discovered in the cave date to the Middle Bronze Age II. The two bronze daggers are not identical, although both date to MB II. One (Fig. 5:1), with a flat spine, is common in the center and southern parts of the country and is identified in Philip’s typology as Type 17 (Philip 1989:445, Fig. 39:674). The second dagger (Fig. 5:2), featuring a spine decorated with grooves and a triangular blade, is rare in the country. A similar dagger was discovered in excavations at Sheikh Munis in Ramat Aviv (Yosef 1987) and in a burial cave near Zefat (Damati and Stepansky 1996:1–15).
Square 6. Only the eastern half of the square was excavated. A cluster of elliptical stones (L601; Figs. 8, 9) was exposed at a depth of c. 0.7 m below the surface. While dismantling the cluster, several body fragments of pottery vessels and a jar rim (Fig. 4:14) from the Early Roman period were found. A hearth was exposed on the bedrock (L603) in the north of the square, below the cluster of stones, and body fragments of Middle Bronze Age pottery vessels were collected from inside it.
Square 7. A wall of a building (W701; exposed length 5 m, width 0.5 m; Figs. 10, 11) constructed on a northeast–southwest axis of one row of coarsely dressed stones was uncovered at a depth of c. 0.3 m below the surface; it was preserved to a height of two courses (c. 0.7 m). The wall continued north and south, beyond the boundaries of the square. Floors belonging to two construction phases of the building abutted the wall. The early construction phase included a thick plaster floor (L711) that extended beneath the western side of the wall; it was set on a bedding made of stones and pebbles (L712). A stone pavement (L706) that was apparently part of a courtyard in the building’s early phase was exposed east of the wall. The later construction phase included a limestone floor (L703), laid above the stone floor, which abutted the eastern side of the wall. The limestone floor was mostly destroyed by stones that collapsed from the wall because of its proximity to the surface.
Fragments of pottery vessels attributed to the beginning of the Roman period, retrieved from the building’s early construction phase, include a cooking pot (Fig. 4:10), an amphora rim (Fig. 4:11), a jug (Fig. 4:15) and a juglet (Fig. 4:16). Fragments of pottery vessels from the first or second centuries CE, found in the building’s late construction phase, include a cooking-pot rim (Fig. 4:9) and a jar rim (Fig. 4:13). Two coins were found on the surface (L702), one dating to the mid-fourth century CE (IAA 149514) and the other, illegible; however, it was minted on a cast flan that is characteristic of the second half of the fifth–first half of the sixth centuries CE (IAA 149513). These coins postdate the building.
Square 8. A wall (W802; exposed length 5 m; width 0.6 m; Figs. 12, 13) was exposed at a depth of c. 0.2 m below the surface. It was founded on leveled bedrock (L803) and was built on a northeast–southwest axis of one row of large, coarsely dressed stones, similar in construction to W701 in Square 7. The wall was preserved to a height of two courses (c. 1 m) and extended in both directions beyond the limits of the square. A plaster floor (L806) set on a bedding of small stones (L807) abutted the northern side of the wall. Randomly arranged fieldstones discovered south of the wall may be the remains of a stone pavement similar to Floor 706 in Square 7, which was damaged by agricultural activity. Two rouletted-type bowls (Fig. 4:6, 7) that were widely used from the late third to the fifth centuries CE, and a jar rim (Fig. 4:12) that was common in the second–fourth centuries CE, were discovered in the building. A deep bowl (Fig. 4:8) from the Umayyad period was discovered on the surface, perhaps indicating that following the building’s abandonment, some sort of activity transpired there in this period.
Anthropological Finds
Human bones dating to the Middle Bronze Age IIB were discovered in the burial cave in Square 5. The bones were in a poor state of preservation, making it difficult to fully reconstruct anthropological parameters; they were examined in the excavation area and reburied there.
The Eastern Part of the Cave (L501). Fragments of a skull vault, teeth and postcranial bones lying in partial articulation were exposed, representing two individuals, one above the other, interred in primary burial. The upper individual was lying on its right side in a general east–west direction, head toward the east. The remains of that individual included a fairly thin fragment of the skull vault and a finger with an unfused proximal epiphysis, characteristic of a young person less than fifteen years old. The age of the individual, estimated at 4–5 years old, was based on the development of the teeth. The lower individual was lying in a general east–west direction, head toward the east. The preserved skeletal remains of this individual included a scapula, an upper limb and a fragment of a pelvis in articulation. The head had probably been damaged by a rock that collapsed from the wall of the cave. This individual was probably a female estimated to be 18–20 years old, based on wear to the teeth and their development.
The Central Part of the Cave (L502). Five teeth and several small pieces of a skull vault and non-diagnostic postcranial bones were discovered. The position of the individual could not be identified due to the almost complete disintegration of most of the bones. Based on the tooth wear, the age of the deceased was estimated at 40–50 years.
The Western Part of the Cave (L503). Lower limb bones were discovered in anatomical articulation, which is representative of a primary burial. The individual was lying in a general east–west direction, with head toward the west. The cortical bone cross sections of the tibias are fairly thick, characteristic of an adult. The rest of the skeletal parts were not exposed.
The tombs exposed in the area may allude to the existence of an MB II settlement situated nearby, not yet discovered. The funerary offerings include weapons that are characteristic of warrior burials during this period, the likes of which were found at Zefat (Damati and Stepansky 1996:1*–27*) and at Tel Yosef (Covello-Paran 2001:139–155).A burial cave dating to the Middle Bronze Age II was discovered in Square 5 in the eastern part of the excavation. As the excavation area was limited, no other tombs were sought nearby. This burial was probably part of a contemporaneous cemetery that extended over a large area that included several burial caves discovered near Tel Shaʽalvim, located c. 2 km north of the excavation (Bahat and Hess 1981; Singer-Avitz and Levi 1993; Parnos 2008).
Remains of two buildings were uncovered in Squares 6–8, in the western part of the excavation. One dates to the Early Roman period and the other to the Late Roman period. Although the dating of these buildings is not the same, there are similarities in their construction. It is possible that both buildings were part of the settlement at Emmaus located south of the excavation.