The Sites
Area A. A cluster of stone heaps was discovered on the southern hill, overlooking Mezad Tamar c. 500 m to its southeast. All of the heaps were excavated, revealing architectural remains in five of them (L1, L5–L8; Fig. 3). A rock-hewn rectangular tomb (depth 1.5 m) was discovered below Stone Heap 1. The upper part of the tomb was delimited by a single course of fieldstones. Part of the tomb was previously excavated. Two fieldstone-built walls that formed a corner were exposed beneath Stone Heap 5. Together with a grooved bedrock outcrop, the walls form a rectangle. A circle of five–six stones leaning up against each other was exposed below Stone Heaps 6–8; no finds were discovered when the stone circles were dismantled. Several worn, Byzantine-period body sherds of cooking pots and jars were collected on the surface.
Area B. A cluster of stone heaps was discovered on the northern hill. Eleven heaps (L17, L22, L22A, L22B, L23–L26, L31–L33; Fig. 4) were excavated, but only beneath five of them (L22, L22A, L22B, L23, L31) were architectural remains: stone circles and sections of walls (Fig. 5). An arrowhead dating to the Neolithic period was discovered in the excavation of Stone Heap 22B. Several Byzantine-period cooking pot sherds and a few flint items (below) were collected on the surface.
Area C. A cluster of eleven stone heaps (L12–L19; Fig. 6) discovered on the northern hill was excavated. The heaps were arranged in a horseshoe-shaped outline, open toward to the east, facing the hilltop. Round structures (diam. c. 2 m; Figs. 7, 8) built of a single course of medium-sized fieldstones were discovered in the excavation of Heaps 12–17. The structures were circular, except for one oval in shape (L16; Fig. 9). No accumulations were discovered within the structures, and no difference could be identified between the top soil and the earth that was excavated inside the structure down to the base of the walls. While numerous flint items were collected on the surface within the horseshoe-shaped area (900 sq m; see below), only few such items were found in the heaps themselves.
A rectangular tomb built of one course of medium-sized fieldstones set on a large bedrock surface (L11; length 2.5 m, inner width 0.35 m, outer width 0.8 m; Fig. 10) was excavated on the northern slope of the southern hill. A partially dressed, elongated gravestone (length c. 0.5 m) was found in the soil fill in the eastern part of the tomb. No artifacts were discovered.
Other stone heaps were excavated on the western slope of the northern hill, west of Areas B and C, as well as on the western slope of the southern hill, west of Area A, but no architecture or artifacts were discovered.
No flint items were found in Area A. A meager amount of flint items was discovered in Area B, the most important of which is a broken Herzliya-type arrowhead dating to the Pottery Neolithic period (Site 22B; Fig. 11:1). This area also yielded a flake-blade core (Fig. 11:2), a core tablet (Fig. 11:3) and two scrapers on flakes unevenly retouched on the sides (Fig 11:4, 5).
In Area C, 181 flint items (see Table 1), comprising mostly chunks and chips (c. 78%), were collected from the surface in the area enclosed by the stone heaps. The items include debitage, comprising flakes and one blade (c. 17%), seven tools and one core. The tools include one scraper (Fig. 12:1), a broken flake core (Fig. 12:2) and five ad-hoc tools made on uneven retouched flakes (Fig. 12:3–6). The flint is dark, exhibiting heat-cracks (craquelé). The items were abraded and damaged from having been stepped on. An assemblage of 181 flint items collected from an area of c. 900 sq m makes for a very low-density scatter, even sparser than flint scatters that are found in temporary nomadic encampments; thus, it seems that this scatter is not the remains of an in-situ activity. The area bounded by the stone heaps in Area C was apparently used in recent generations as a camel corral; when it was set up, ancient remains and artifacts were damaged. In addition, several items were found when excavating the stone heaps, most of them on the surface of the heaps. These comprised three chips and a flake core with two striking platforms fond in two of the stone heaps at Site 13; one flake found in Heap 14; and two chunks and a broken flake discovered in Heap 19.
Table 1. Area C, Flint Items from the Area Enclosed by the Stone Heaps
Quantity (N)
Total Debris
Total Debitage
Meager remains, probably indicative of a temporary human presence, were discovered in the area of the two hills north of Mezad Tamar. The finds are characteristic of the Negev. It seems that the initial activity at the site occurred during the Neolithic period. The stone circles might be related to this period, although stone circles dating to later periods were discovered throughout the Negev. Activity at the site during the Byzantine period was probably associated with the nearby fortress.