Area A. Remains of an ancient streambed, oriented in a general north–south direction, were documented in both excavation squares (Fig. 2). It is possible that this streambed extended as far as Nahal ‘Eqron, which borders the tell on the south. Large pebbles (0.10 × 0.15 m) and pebble fragments were found in the streambed, indicating that the flow of water in the channel must have been quite strong. The current surface, constituting a layer of sand near the stream, differs from the ancient surfaces that were exposed in the area.
Area B. A habitation level of dark gray soil (L51; thickness 0.3–0.6 m; Fig. 3) with irregular boundaries and a concave cross section was discovered in both excavation squares. The gray soil was sifted using a meshed sieve (0.5 cm) that yielded fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Late Chalcolithic period, a fragment of a stone chalice from the Chalcolithic period, flint items from the Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, bone implements and animal bones. A pit (L53) that had been dug in the indigenous hamra soil (Fig. 4; not excavated) was discerned in the section of a streambed located outside the excavation limits. Two excavations carried out nearby in the past revealed similar remains of habitation levels and pits dug in hamra soil, including fragments of pottery vessels, flint items and bones from similar periods (van den Brink 2007; Parnos, Milevski and Khalaily 2010). No architectural remains were exposed in either excavation.
Flint Artifacts. A total of 1358 items were discovered (Table 1). The items are made of two kinds of raw material: one is dark gray flint of the Senon Formation and the other is yellowish-brown flint that probably originated in pebbles brought from nearby Nahal ʽEqron or Nahal Ha-Ela. Most of the flint items are debitage, mainly of flakes (25.8%). Most of the tools are made on blades and bladelets. The cores (0.3%) were meant for producing blades. Three of the cores have a single striking platform, two are pyramidal, and one has two opposing striking platforms. The predominant implement in the tool assemblage (Table 2) is the sickle blade (64%). Most of the sickle blades are backed and delicately denticulated (Fig. 5:1–7), of a type that was used during the Chalcolithic period. Two of the sickle blades have deep, broad denticulation, one of them with such denticulation on both ends (Fig. 6:1); they date to the Pottery Neolithic. The implements also include arrowheads (8%), all made by means of pressure flaking (Fig. 6:2, 3), that also date to the Pottery Neolithic period.
Table 1. Flint Items
Primary Elements
Core Trimmings
Burin Spalls
Table 2. Flint tools
Sickle blade
Pottery and Stone Vessels
Ariel Vered
Pottery. Twenty-five fragments of pottery vessels characteristic of the Chalcolithic-period Ghassulian culture (second half of the fifth millennium BCE) were discovered in the excavation. Although a small assemblage, it includes a variety of vessels, from small and medium-sized serving ware to several types of storage and other vessels. The vessels were prepared from light brown, pinkish-brown or pale orange clay with small-medium-sized gray temper that is probably crushed chalk. All the vessels are known from contemporaneous assemblages in residential and burial sites in the Shephelah, and some are also known from sites near Tel Malot itself (van den Brink 2007; Parnos, Milevski and Khalaily 2010).
The most common vessels in the assemblage are bowls, many of them V-shaped (Fig. 7:1–3). Some were produced on a wheel and treated with a red wash on the outside and on the rim (Fig. 7:1) and some were handmade (Fig. 7:3). One of the rims in the assemblage is decorated with a rope ornamentation (Fig. 7:4) and probably belongs to a krater. The storage vessels include jars, most of them holemouths with a thickened (Fig. 7:5) or high rim (Fig. 7:6). Other ceramic finds include a jar with a short neck (Fig. 7:7), a body fragment of a jar decorated with a rope ornamentation (Fig. 7:8) and several bases—one that probably belongs to a red-painted jar (Fig. 7:9), and an amphoriskos base (Fig. 7:10). A few of the bases bear remnants of having been cut with a string (Fig. 7:11). Other finds include part of a foot from an incense burner (Fig. 7:12), lug handles characteristic of the period (Fig. 7:13) and a loop handle (Fig. 7:14), fragments of a deep bowl with an everted rim and a rim fragment of a churn (not drawn).
Stone Vessel. A fragment of a basalt incense burner (Fig. 7:15) was discovered. Although incense burners are common discoveries in sites ascribed to the Ghassulian culture, similar vessels made of basalt and limestone with a solid base were exposed in sites dating to the sixth and the first half of the fifth millennia BCE, such as Tel Dan (Gopher and Greenberg 1996, Fig. 2.4:1) and Nahal Yarmut (Khalaily 2011, Fig. 21:2).
Nuha Agha
Some animal remains were discovered, of which fourteen bones, teeth and horns were identified, constituting about half of the zoological assemblage. All the bones were covered with patination, making it difficult to detect signs of human activity (cutting or burning) or that of predators and rodents, and they sustained natural damage caused by roots and weathering. After being soaked in acid half of them were found to have deep cracks and signs of roots. Remains of mammals were identified, including cattle, sheep/goats and pigs, as well as the pelvis of a Palestine mountain gazelle (Gazella gazelle). The remains represent at least one specimen of each species. The species composition making up the assemblage is probably consistent with both the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.
The cattle remains (N=6) include a metatarsus, a tibia, a humerus, a rib, a first or second molar of the upper jaw and a horn with part of the skull. The age of the individual could not be determined due to the absence of fused diagnostic bones. Cut marks observed on the proximal end of the metatarsus are indicative of dismemberment (Fig. 8). The sheep/goat remains (N=5) include a metatarsus, a radius, a humerus, a scapula and a horn. The scapula and radius were burnt. In the absence of diagnostic skeletal parts, these remains are insufficient to distinguish between sheep and goat, except for the horn that can be attributed to a goat. The horn is twisted, indicating that it belonged to a domesticated goat. The proximal end of the radius is fused, and therefore the individual was more than 10 months old. The pig remains (N=2) include a tibia and a mandible with a dental sequence. Based on the erosion of the fourth pre-molar and the eruption of two molars, it seems that the individual was young—no more than 18 months old.
Two bone implements consisting of polished points that were probably made of the bones of a medium-sized animal (Fig. 9) were also found (L52); they are not included in the assemblage of animal remains described above.
Based on the excavation finds, it seems that a settlement was located at the site during the Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. The ceramic assemblage, which included large storage vessels and serving vessels, as well as fragments of basalt vessels and the presence of domesticated animals, indicate that this was a permanent settlement. The discovery of arrowheads together with sickle blades and bifacial tools shows that the residents of the site engaged in both hunting activities and domestic activities.