In June 2012, a trial excavation was conducted at a site south of Horbat Turit (Permit No. A-6542; map ref. 212669–721/757542–65; Fig. 1), after a section of an ancient road was exposed along the planned route of the ‘Akko-Karmiel railway line. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by R. Abu Raya, with the assistance of R. Mishayev and M. Kahan (surveying), Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), W. Atrash (scientific guidance), N. Getzov (pottery reading) and laborers from Sakhnin and Mazra‘a.
An impressive section of an ancient road (length 19 m, width 4.4 m) running in a north–south direction was exposed at the western end of the site (Figs. 1–4). The road consisted of an even surface of various-sized fieldstones mixed with roughly hewn stones. The road’s western edge was in a better state of preservation: it comprised a row of fairly large, roughly hewn stones (Fig. 5) lined with small fieldstones and sloping outward. The eastern edge had settled into the ground and disappeared, except for three roughly hewn stones that survived in situ.
The road was constructed of three layers (Figs. 4, 5). The bottom layer was made of orange sandy soil and not the brown alluvial clay characteristic of the region, possibly evidence that the soil had been replaced (an accepted method practiced both today and in antiquity, whereby indigenous clay soil that tends to swell when wet is replaced with stable soil). In two probes conducted at the ends of the road, it was evident the alluvium soil was excavated for the purpose of adding another layer of soil. The middle layer of the roadbed consisted of medium-sized fieldstones bonded with crushed chalk, and the upper layer was made up of fist-sized fieldstones bonded with the indigenous clay soil.
The pottery collected from the roadbed included several fragments of vessels, including handles and rims of jars and amphorae without necks, characteristic of the Persian period (Fig. 6:1); a rim and handle of a locally produced jar (Fig. 6:2); two rims of Hellenistic jars (Fig. 6: 3, 4); and a rim of a Phoenician jar from the second–first centuries BCE (Fig. 6:5).
The layers of soil above the road were rich in clay and mostly worn fragments of pottery vessels. These included jar handles and several fragments of Roman and Byzantine cooking pots (second–sixth centuries CE), probably related to the agricultural activity that transpired there during these periods.
The excavation finds indicate this was a Hellenistic road that connected the Hellenistic temple at H
urit with Tel Kisan and sites on the Plain of ‘Akko. A major Roman road passed through the region, north of Tel Kisan (Abu Raya and Porat 2010
); the excavation yielded the first Hellenistic road known in this region.