An area of about four dunams was excavated. After removing layers of clayey, brown and sandy soil (depth 4–8 m), ancient finds were recovered (Fig. 2): a total of 113 pits and shafts dating from the Late Chalcolithic period (Figs. 3, 4) and concentrations of Epipalaeolithic flint tools.
The flint assemblages typical of the Epipalaeolithic period were discovered in a natural small gulley in the hamra soil in the western part of the excavation area (Sqs E4, E5; Fig. 5). The assemblage is characterized by its yellow patina and contains bladelet cores and other debitage.
The Late Chalcolithic remains were found scattered throughout the excavation area. They include pits and shafts that can be subdivided into four groups based on their form:
1. Circular shallow pits dug mainly into the sterile hamra soil. This group includes three types of pits with various diameters (small—0.5–0.6 m, medium—c. 1 m, large—c. 2 m depth; depth 1–2 m deep; Figs. 6–8). Some of these pits contained a fill of brown soil mixed with pottery, animal bones and flints, while others were devoid of archaeological remains.
2. Bell-shaped pits were hewn into the kurkar bedrock. Most of these were in the eastern part of the excavation area (Fig. 9). The pits yielded assemblages that were similar to those recovered from the circular shallow pits.
3. Deep narrow shafts that were mostly excavated into the sterile hamra soil (diam. 1.0–1.2 m, depth 3–6 m). This group includes three types of shafts, differentiated by the slant of their walls: either fully perpendicular to the surface or tapering toward the bottom of the shaft (Figs. 10, 11). Some of the shafts contained a fill composed of black and gray clay sediments with finds, whereas others had fills devoid of archaeological finds.
4. A shaft opening into an underground cavity. Only one example of this type was unearthed (L210; Fig. 12, on left). The cavity yielded in situ fragments of several ceramic vessels, as well as flint tools and animal bones.
The finds from the Chalcolithic period consisted mainly of pottery, flint tools, groundstone tools and animal bones. The pottery included cornets; small- and medium-sized 'V-shaped' bowls, some with rims adorned with red paint on the interior; bowls on fenestrated stands; as well as a sizable range of large basins; necked jars; holemouth jars; jugs; cooking pots; and churn fragments, typical of several different sub-regions associated with the Late Chalcolithic culture. The flint finds consisted of sickle blades, bifacial tools and microliths, all typical of the Late Chalcolithic period. Most of the stone vessels are basalt bowls; some are decorated. The faunal remains represent cattle, sheep/goats, pigs and dogs. Some of the shafts yielded partially articulated animal parts, including an intact dog skeleton. A preliminary examination of a sample of the animal bones indicates that domesticated cattle, pigs and caprines (particularly goats) were deposited in similar frequencies at the site. This is consistent with finds from contemporary Mediterranean coastal sites in Israel.
The remains discovered in this excavation, along with those from previous excavations conducted in the region, provide evidence of extensive settlement in this area during the Late Chalcolithic period. The phenomenon of pits is known from other sites in Israel, but shafts have been recorded so far only at two sites: Tel Aviv and Yehud (Jakoel and van den Brink 2014). The initial function of the shafts is unclear; at a later stage, however, some of them were used as refuse pits for domestic waste, probably from nearby dwellings in the settlement. Future research will examine the finds from the excavation using analytical tests that we hope will provide an answer as to the shafts’ function.