A row of eight adjoining squares oriented north–south (Fig. 2) and an isolated 4.0 × 2.5 m probe slightly to the southwest were excavated (Area C). Two superimposed strata (1, 2) were distinguished, both dating to the Pottery Neolithic period (Jericho IX/Lodian). The remains of a stone-built circular structure with a stone pavement may date to the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B.
Stratum 1. A level containing amorphous spreads of small, natural limestone mixed with Pottery Neolithic (Jericho IX) potsherds and flint implements was exposed almost directly under the surface, primarily in the southernmost three squares. No wall remains could be identified and the nature of the small limestone spreads remains uncertain. They may indicate living surfaces (for example in Square D5; Fig. 3), if they are not stone debris. One of these might have originally functioned as the foundation of a mud-packed floor, as seems indicated by a small limestone mortar, found in situ in Square D7 (Fig. 4). While the top layer in the three southernmost squares is characterized by these amorphous small-limestone spreads, the northern squares, particularly the squares in the middle, are characterized by the presence of several small stone-and-mud-brick installations that may have functioned as hearths. While some of the more completely preserved mud-bricks are square or rectangular, several are circular, as is that in Square D9, with a flat bottom and a convex top (Fig. 5).
Based on the pottery finds associated with the installations and the limestone spreads described above, which clearly belong to the Pottery Neolithic/Jericho IX horizon, it appears that the present excavation area (C) is part of the eastern Pottery Neolithic settlement remains that were revealed in Area A during the 2013 excavation (see Fig. 1; van den Brink, Yaroshevich and Kirzner 2015; van den Brink et al. 2016).
Stratum 2. Following the removal of the stone surfaces from Stratum 1, the incomplete remains of three human burials were unearthed. The most intact was found in Square D7 with a grave marker consisting of an arrangement of several dressed upright limestone slabs (Fig. 6). No funerary gifts were found with these remains, but immediately underneath the grave marker were two large Pottery Neolithic potsherds.
The fact that the burial was sealed by remains from the Stratum 1 Pottery Neolithic may indicate that this burial also belongs to the Jericho IX horizon. It is tempting, but far from certain, to associate the Area C burial remains with the apparently contemporaneous dwellings excavated in Area A in 2013. Also noteworthy are the partially excavated remains of a stone-paved circular structure (estimated diam. 4–5 m) protruding from the western balk of Square D10 (Fig. 7). In the absence of pottery finds and considering the limited segment of the structure exposed, it is unclear whether its construction dates to the Pottery Neolithic/Jericho IX or is much earlier—early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B; it is reasonable to expect a Pre-Pottery Neolithic B presence in Area C, considering the relatively high number of early PPNB flints discovered in this area, which includes several diagnostic tools such as bi-facials (Fig. 8) exhibiting tranché technique, ‘Helwan’ points (Fig. 9) and a large, retouched obsidian flake (A. Yaroshevich, pers. comm.).
Based on the data collected so far, it is possible to state that Area C contains domestic finds (Stratum 1) as well as funerary remains (Stratum 2) that should most likely be associated with the Pottery Neolithic settlement partially exposed in 2013 in Area A. It is noteworthy that with the exception of four pre-firing incised potsherds that are diagnostically contemporary with Sha‘ar ha-Golan-type ceramic vessels, all the pottery retrieved in Areas A and C is either plain or painted, which is typical for the Jericho IX horizon of the Pottery Neolithic. The occurrence in Area C of round mud-bricks seems a novelty. The round stone-built structure cannot be dated definitively until analyses of the flint assemblage are concluded. The notable absence of pottery and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B flint tools retrieved close by might indicate a date in the PPNB rather than the Pottery Neolithic.
The presence of a natural spring nearby, most likely a major factor in the decision to settle in this area, and the resulting relatively high subsoil water table in the excavation area (subsoil water penetrated several of the squares during the excavation) prevented us from excavating further. There may have been deeper archaeological layers at the site that could have been associated with the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, based on the numerous diagnostic PPNB flint tools that were unearthed. The presence of a large retouched obsidian flake seems to indicate indirect long-distance contact (down-the-line trading) with the inhabitants of Anatolia.