In January and April–June 2017, trial and salvage excavations were conducted at Horbat Sirim (Permit Nos. A-7879, A-7967, A-8049; map ref. 229340–533/766855–7004) prior to the construction of a road. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Marina Galilee Mushrooms Ltd., was directed by D. Golan, with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), N. Feig (area supervision), R. Liran (surveying), J. Gosker (computing), A. Shapiro (drafting and GPS), M. Peleg (photogrammetric documentation and models), B. Tsin (stone tools) and T. Ken-Tsipor (bronze tools). Further assistance was provided by K. Covello-Paran, Z. Horowitz, Y. Lerer and N. Getzov.
The site lies on a low spur (c. 500 m asl) that slopes gradually from north to south, c. 300 m north of Route 864 (H
osen–Peqi‘in; Fig. 1). The bedrock is covered with dark alluvium containing abundant stones derived from water erosion and collapses. The site was first surveyed by Aharoni
:27), who documented stone fences, clearance heaps and Iron Age potsherds. Later surveys (Frankel et al. 2001
:27) identified the remains of a settlement with several walls from the Middle Bronze II. Another study classified the site as “[a] typical rural site founded in this period [...], located on the top and slopes of a low hill” (Yasur-Landau, Cline and Pierce 2008
Nine squares were excavated on the rocky slope, yielding the remains of a building constructed during MB IIB or MB IIA–B. A few ruined walls found at a higher level, in the northeast corner of the excavation area, may attest to a more recent layer that has not been preserved.
The excavation unearthed a terraced architectural complex (c. 175 sq m; Fig. 2) comprising several spaces: a central building with two rooms whose walls were built of medium-sized fieldstones. A tamped-earth layer covering the rock may be the remains of a leveled floor bedding. Some of the corners yielded fragments of pithoi or kraters, most of which were poorly preserved. The building was surrounded by a series of corridors paved with large stone slabs (Fig. 3). At least two entrances to the building were found: in the west and in the south, where there was a socket stone. Stone tools, two bronze daggers (Fig. 4) and numerous potsherds were discovered in the corridors and rooms. The passages מסדרונות were surrounded by walls built of large fieldstones that were excellently preserved to the height of four courses (height c. 1.5 m).
Farther down the site’s west slope, where the natural bedrock had been leveled, was a tamped-earth bedding overlain by a small preserved section of slab-stone paving. To the west, other rock terraces uncovered lower down were partially excavated. These מפלסיםterraces yielded numerous body fragments of pithoi, jars and kraters. A cavity hewn in one rock surface contained a cache of hammerstones and grinding stones.
Approximately 5–6 m south of the complex, remains of two additional walls were discovered together with what may be a stone-built channel, attesting to the existence of a larger architectural complex than the one that was excavated.המכלול
The excavation shows that the site was established in MB IIA–B or early in MB IIB and that it continued to be occupied until the end of that period. Surveys, aerial photographs and old maps show remains of walls to the north and to the west; the site was evidently much larger than the excavated area and most of it has not been preserved. It probably belonged to the array of rural settlements in the Western and Upper Galilee highlands in the first half of the second millennium BCE. The considerable effort invested in building the corridors and in the paving, as well as the two daggers found in situ and not in a burial context raise questions about the structure’s nature.
Aharoni Y. 1957. The Settlement of the Tribes of Israel in the Upper Galilee. Jerusalem (Hebrew).
Frankel R., Getzov N., Aviam M. and Degani A. 2001. Settlement Dynamics and Regional Diversity in In Ancient Galilee (IAA Reports 14). Jerusalem.
Yasur-Landau A., Cline E.H. and Pierce G.A. 2008. Middle Bronze Age Settlement Patterns in the Western Galilee, Israel. JFA 33/1:59–83.