In July 2012, an excavation was conducted at Amazya, in the eastern part of the Lachish region (Permit No. A-6571; map ref. 19180/60505), after ancient remains were discovered while overseeing development work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by D. Varga (photography) and Y. Israel, with the assistance of E. Aladjem (area supervision), Y. Al-‘Amor (administration), M. Kunin and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting) and Y. Nagar (physical anthropology).
The excavation area (30 × 30 m; Fig. 1) was opened on a hilltop south of Nahal Lachish. Eleven cist graves (T1–T11) and a burial cave (C1) were discovered, dating to the nineteenth and twentieth century CE, up to 1948.
The cist tombs (average dimensions 1.2 × 2.1 m, average depth 0.8 m) were dug in the ground and lined with stones. They were damaged by a tractor, which destroyed their lining and top part. Tombs 1, 2, 4, and 5 were large, and were dug on an east–west axis. These tombs contained a large number of scattered human bones, from all parts of the skeleton, and of individuals of different ages. It therefore seems that they were used for secondary burial. Bones of more than ten individuals were identified, including infants, children and adults of both sexes. Human bones in anatomical articulation, indicating primary burial, were discovered at the bottom of Tomb 2. About 10 m south of the tomb, two more skeletons in anatomical articulation indicative of primary burial were exposed, possibly in a destroyed tomb. Tombs 8, 10 and 11 were severely damaged by the tractor. Scattered human bones were discovered in them, indicating secondary burial. Several bones were discovered in Tombs 3, 6, 7 and 9, but were not examined.
The burial cave (2.3 × 3.2 m, max. depth 1.4 m; Fig. 2) is a natural cave that was enlarged to adapt it for burial. Numerous bones and skulls, indicative of secondary burial, were scattered in it. On the floor were at least six skeletons, in anatomical articulation, indicating primary burial. The six burials were oriented east–west, with the heads to the west. They included infants, children and adults of both sexes. Glassware and pottery dating to the nineteenth and twentieth century CE, and metal objects, were also found on the floor of the cave. Apparently the tombs and the burial cave were initially used for primary burial, and later for secondary burial. The bones in secondary burial may have originated in the Muslim cemetery of the village Al-Dawayima, on the northeastern slope of the hill.