During April 2003 a salvage excavation was conducted at the Neolithic site of Abu Ghosh (Permit No. A-3890*; map ref. NIG 21027/63540; OIG 16027/13540), prior to expanding the nearby school. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Abu Ghosh Local Council, was directed by H. Khalaily and O. Barzilai, assisted by A. Dubovska (surveying and drafting).
The site was discovered in the 1920s, examined in the 1950s and excavated at the end of the 1970s by a French expedition, directed by J. Perrot. Neolithic settlement remains, including impressive architecture and tombs that dated to the eighth millennium BCE, based on the flint industry, were found.
Part of the site was excavated, in the wake of development plans, by the Antiquities Authority in 1995, revealing additional remains of the Neolithic settlement that was estimated to cover c. 28 dunams (IAA Reports 19). Built courtyards, used as animal pens, were prominent among the finds and evidenced, for the first time, the domestication process of the goat in the Levant.
Four squares were opened in the current excavation and two more were excavated along the fringes of the area (Fig. 1).
It should be noted that the top soil layer was 1.5 m lower than the measured surface in 1995. The squares, which were excavated down to bedrock, contained modern fill that was also found in the probe trenches, cut in the area of the 1995 excavation.
It became apparent that development work performed around the school, which included the installation of a fence and paths to nearby houses, lowered the ground level, causing damage to the site. Consequently, no remains of the Neolithic site were discovered.