During September 2008, an excavation was conducted in a declared antiquities site in the fields of Qibbuz Tel Yosef (East; Permit No. A-5524; map ref. 23865/71765), after ancient remains were damaged while digging a trench for water pipes. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by K. Covello-Paran, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), H. Smithline (field photography) and A. Shapiro (GPS).
The site is part of the Murhan antiquities site, on the southeastern spur of Giv‘at Qumi, above Nahal Yosef (Fig. 1). Its remains extend across an area of c. 96 dunams, some of which are situated within the precincts of Qibbuz Tel Yosef; it was damaged several times in the past when buildings were constructed in the qibbuz, trenches were dug for infrastructures and fields were plowed. The site was discovered by N. Zori in 1932 who collected and documented artifacts that were discovered during the development of the qibbuz.
Previous excavations directed by Zori at the site revealed a five-room dwelling, a pottery workshop and a kiln, a circular tower and three tombs (Zori N. 1971. Tel Yosef in Antiquity. Tel Yosef). Remains of farming terraces ascribed to the settlement from the Intermediate Bronze Age are visible in the vicinity of the site and on the slopes of Giv‘at Qumi. The finds from the survey and the excavation indicate that this is a single-period site that is dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age and consists of an open settlement whose inhabitants were engaged in farming, animal husbandry and handicrafts.
Two squares were excavated (A, B; 25 sq m each, located c. 200 m apart).
The square was opened next to the water pipeline trench and the excavations exposed a stone layer founded above the weathered limestone and basalt bedrock was exposed. Fragments of pottery vessels and basalt grinding tools that date to the Intermediate Bronze Age were discovered in the vicinity of the stones and between them.
The square was opened in a region covered with alluvium. Limestone bedrock surfaces were exposed and above them a few fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age. The area inside the square had been damaged during the installation of a modern drainage pipe.
The periphery of the Murhan antiquities site, which dates to the Intermediate Bronze Age, was exposed in the excavation. Fragments of numerous grinding and pounding implements were found on the surface near the squares. The many remains that were discovered in surveys and excavations, as well as when damage was caused by modern activity and antiquities robbery, show that extensive agricultural activity transpired in the early settlement. The dozens of basalt mortars and grinding stones that were found point to Murhan as a key site, which is important to the study of the latter part of the third millennium BCE.