In September 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted in the village of Gush Halav (Jish) in the Upper Galilee (Permit No. A-7197; map ref. 24169–77/77020–27; Fig. 1), following the discovery of antiquities during a preliminary inspection prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the developer, L. Yosef, was directed by E. Amos (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), W. Atrash (scientific guidance), R. Mishayev and R. Liran (surveying), H. Tahan (pottery drawing) and laborers from Majd al-Krum.
One square (4.5 × 6.0 m; Fig. 2) was opened and two strata were exposed: remains of a wall and a leveled bedrock surface from the Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE; stratum II) and a terrace wall from the Late Ottoman period (nineteenth–twentieth century CE; stratum I).
Stratum II. A wall (W2; width 0.3–0.5 m, exposed length 2 m) built of medium-size limestone fieldstones was exposed; it was aligned approximately north–south, with a slight inclination to the east. The wall was constructed on the edge of a chalky bedrock surface (L7; Fig. 3), which was leveled and probably used as a floor. A natural depression in the bedrock (diam. c. 0.8 m) was filled and covered with large stones, so as to create a smooth surface. Directly next to the slope, the bedrock surface was covered with a thick layer of soft marl, devoid of pottery. The accumulation of brown soil over the rest of the surface contained pottery dating to the Roman period (third–fourth century CE), including bowls of Kefar Hananya Forms 1B (Fig. 4:1, 2), 1D (Fig. 4:3, 4) and 1E (Fig. 4: 5, 6), and cooking pots Forms 3B (Fig. 4:7, 8) and 4C (Fig. 4:9). In addition to these, a fragment of a limestone cup-handle was found. It belongs to the type of stone vessels that cannot become ritually unclean and are characteristic of the Jewish settlement in the Galilee in the Roman period (Fig. 4:10).
Stratum I. Wall 6 (exposed length 2.7 m; Fig. 5), to the west of W2 and the bedrock surface which is oriented northeast–southwest, was ascribed to this layer. The wall, one stone wide (0.25 m) and preserved to a height of one course, was set directly on virgin soil. Several sherds of Rashaya el-Fukhar ware (Fig. 4:11) were found in the soil that accumulated over the wall, suggesting that it was an agricultural terrace wall from the Ottoman period (nineteenth century–early twentieth century CE).
The nature of the walls and the bedrock surface in both strata indicates that the western slope of the hill was farmed throughout the years, in the same way as the agricultural terraces on the northern slope (Hartal 2010
). The finds from this excavation, when added to information from previous ones, make it possible to map the areas that were farmed around the settlement on the hilltop through time.