During March–April 2006, a trial excavation was conducted north of Reina (Trigonometric Point R-1192; Permit No. A-4744, map ref. 22780–820/73745–90), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the developer, was directed by N. Feig, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), A. Hajian and T. Kornfeld (surveying), H. Smithline (field photography), the Sky View Company (aerial photography), N. Zak (drafting) and laborers from Umm al-Fahm.
The site, c. 3 km north of Nazareth, is located on a hilltop; Nahal Zippori at its foot extends northward through farmland to beyond the Bet Netofa Valley.
Six excavation areas (D1–D6; Fig. 1) were opened and a public building with thickened walls, a circular tower, retaining walls, winepresses and rock-hewn installations were exposed.
Two squares were opened on the hilltop (Fig. 2); part of a massive building (min. dimensions 10×11 m), founded on bedrock, was exposed. It consisted of two spaces and its walls were rather wide (1.1 m) and survived to just a single course high.
Southern Area (L403; 2.4×7.8 m). The structure was only partially preserved but the course of its walls could be reconstructed. This was an elongated room whose entrance was probably in the southwest. The bedrock floor was smoothed and depressions were filled with stones to create an even surface. The bedrock in the east and south was very high and it seems that the walls were plundered or swept away (Fig. 3). A threshold composed of two large stones, which led to the northern area, was discovered in the northwestern corner.
Northern Area (L410). This area was partially excavated. A stone pavement was exposed on the bedrock floor in the corner formed by Walls 41 and 44 and north of it was a stone slab (0.5×1.0 m) whose function is unclear. Dozens of jars and cooking pots were discovered on the floor and around the stone. Wall 44 continued northward to the cliff (Area D2) and Wall 43 extended east, beyond the excavation area.
Fragments of pottery vessels above the floor of Room 403 and on Floor 410 dated the structure to Iron Age IIA (tenth–ninth centuries BCE).
A single square was opened along the edge of the northern cliff and two strata were identified (Figs. 4, 5).
Stratum II. A wall (W53; length 4 m, width 0.75 m, height c. 1.1 m) aligned east–west, which was built of ashlars and preserved three courses high, was exposed. The construction of the wall was identical to the walls of the building in Area D1 and it seems that it delimited the northern side of the northern area, which was apparently a large courtyard. The thickness of the wall indicates that it was an interior wall of a building. Another wall (W51) was exposed c. 1 m north of and parallel to W53 and stone fill was revealed between the walls. Based on the potsherds, the date of the walls is identical to that of the building in Area D1, that is, the tenth–ninth centuries BCE.
Stratum I. A circular structure (W50; diam. 3.2 m), built of fieldstones that were partially preserved, was exposed; repairs made to the structure are visible. The structure penetrated into Stratum II and was supported in the south by a wall (W52) that rested on W53. The pottery finds recovered from the building dated it to the end of the Roman–beginning of the Byzantine periods.
A half square was excavated along the western slope (Fig. 6) and the discerned remains are described from west to east and from the lowest to the highest level.
A quarry was exposed in the nari bedrock. The negatives in the quarry match the dimensions of the stones used in the building exposed in Area D1; it seems therefore that the stones from the quarry were taken for the building’s construction. Further up the slope the quarry was filled with stones (L112) to create a foundation for a retaining wall that formed a terrace. Above it was another terrace at whose top was a wall (W60). It seems that this terraced complex, which has a uniform slope, points to the planning of an enclosure wall around the hilltop. The potsherds found in the quarry and near W60 dated to Iron Age IIA—the time of the building in Area D1.
Areas D4 and D5
A winepress (Fig. 7) that included a treading floor (2.2×3.5 m) and two shallow settling pits was discovered southeast of Area D1. Depressions and channels, whose purpose is unclear, were hewn at the top of smoothed bedrock, just north of the winepress.
Two simple winepresses, which were partially exposed, were cleaned at the western foot of the hill and a number of rock-hewn hollows were found.
The strategic location of the site attests to the nature of the buildings exposed at the summit. The building with the thick walls, constructed in the tenth century BCE, was surrounded with a wall and probably served as a stronghold that overlooked Nahal Zippori and was certainly of great importance in the settlement scheme of the region during the Iron Age. The circular building (a tower?) from the Roman period probably served as a vantage point for controlling the agricultural areas located to the north and west and may have been connected to the city of Zippori.