Areas A1 and A2
In the first excavation season, eight squares were opened up in Areas A1 and A2. In the second season, nine squares were opened up in Area A1 (Fig. 2) and ten squares in Area A2 (Fig. 3). Late PPNB architectural remains were uncovered in both excavations, and two to four construction stages were identified. The archaeological stratum became thicker as the topography sloped down eastwards towards the Nahal Soreq riverbed. The buildings comprised square and rectangular rooms, some of which were small and narrow (Figs. 4, 5). The walls were constructed of two rows of large and medium-sized fieldstones, and they were preserved to a height of between one to five courses. Concentrations of reddish earth found next to some of the walls were probably the remains of collapsed mudbricks from the upper parts of the walls. No entrances were found in the walls, apparently because the walls were preserved below the height of the thresholds. Some of the floors were made of packed earth and others were made of plaster, in both cases overlying a bedding of medium-sized fieldstones (Fig. 6). Pits for storage or burial were dug into some of the floors. Three installations in the rooms, each composed of a stone circle built on the packed earth floors and enclosing an area of pinkish material (Fig. 7), were attributed to the stratum’s earliest phase. Samples of the pinkish material were sent for analysis; at this stage, the material appears to be local crushed calcareous rock. Similar structures are known from contemporary sites in Transjordan.
The remains of the building unearthed in Area A2 were distinctly impressive. The walls were built of two rows of large and medium-sized hard limestone fieldstones, preserved to a maximum height of five courses (see Figs. 4, 5). The building was divided into rooms and cells, and long narrow cells were constructed on both its northern and southern sides, possibly to support an upper story. In a later phase, internal walls were built in some of the rooms. The plan of the building was not entirely exposed, as the walls extended beyond the limits of the excavation in all four directions, indicating that the building covered a larger area. The structure is the largest and most impressive PPNB building exposed in the excavations. Similar buildings have previously been uncovered in the northern Levant and in Transjordan.
Areas B1 and B2
In the first season, five squares were opened up in Areas B1 and B2, and in the second season, four excavation squares were opened up in Area B1 and six in B2. In Area B1, a rich settlement layer from PPNB was uncovered above the bedrock, overlying a layer of sterile soil. In the eastern part of the area, remains of a building comprising a large and a small room (Fig. 8) were excavated in this layer. In this building, an installation incorporating a stone circle was uncovered, similar to the circles exposed in Area A, but here, it enclosed a fill of fieldstones rather than pinkish material. Two upstanding stones were found in the center of the installation, and a hearth was discovered nearby. Numerous finds were retrieved in and around the building as well as on an adjacent surface. The finds comprised flint artifacts, including knives, arrowheads and denticulated sickle blades; animal bones; bone tools; stone artifacts including stone bracelets; shells; and two obsidian items, a bladelet and a broken ‘Amuq-type arrowhead. A large stone (weighing over 100 kg; Fig. 9), standing on its narrow side, was found to the west of the building. The stone was stabilized on a bedding of small fieldstones. Several installations were also unearthed in the area, among them a large circular pit containing flint items and burnt bones. Two agricultural terrace walls and a layer of agricultural topsoil (0.5–0.8 m thick) containing worn Roman potsherds and a few flint items, overlay the PPNB settlement layer.
In the first season, a probe dug in Area B2 unearthed a layer with PPNB finds; above this was a layer containing Chalcolithic finds, in turn overlain by a refuse pit that yielded Late Roman potsherds. In the four squares excavated in Area B2 in the second season, a Chalcolithic settlement layer comprising two walls and rich finds was exposed. The finds consist of numerous potsherds from an early phase of the Chalcolithic period, stone artifacts used for food processing, many flint tools, including adzes and sickle blades with a retouched back, flint-knapping debitage, and a substantial quantity of animal bones. Above this stratum, walls and potsherds from the Late Roman period were uncovered.
Areas C1 and C2
In the second season, four and a half squares were opened up in Area C1 (Fig. 10) and five in Area C2 (Fig. 11). Area C1 was located near the excavation conducted in 2012 (Mizrahi 2015
). A settlement layer dating from Late PPNB exposed above the bedrock, contained remains of the walls of a building. The building yielded flint tools and flint-knapping debitage, stone artifacts and animal bones. The remains were flooded by rain several times, and the excavation was not completed. In the northeast square, a Late PPNB stratum rich in organic finds, including animal bones and botanical finds. Fragments of lentil and fava bean seeds were identified among the botanical finds. Above this layer, a Chalcolithic settlement layer exhibited a curved wall abutted by a habitation level with flint items and a few potsherds. The stratum yielded pottery fragments and flint items, including flake-production debitage, dating from the pre-Ghassulian phase of the Chalcolithic period.
In Area C2, a PPNB settlement layer contained the remains of a building with a well-preserved plaster floor (Fig. 12), and a plastered pit set in the floor (Figs. 13, 14). The rounded and smoothed edge of the pit indicates that it was probably plastered together with the floor. The pit walls were pink, perhaps as a result of burning, suggesting that it may have served as a hearth. Flint tools and animal bones were recovered on the plaster floor, and the lower part of a White Ware (Vaisselle Blanche) storage vessel was unearthed next to one of the walls (see Fig. 14). To the west of the building, an open area excavated produced many animal bones and PPNB finds. It appears that household work was probably carried out here, and the area was also used for dumping refuse. A rock cutting discovered north of the building was the result of a modern disturbance.
In the first season, two squares were opened up in Area D, the area closest to the Nahal Soreq riverbed; in the second season, ten squares were opened up (Fig. 15). The first excavation squares exposed the corners of two buildings with an intervening rock step, in association with Late PPNB finds. The remains of the buildings unearthed in the second season probably belong to two additional contemporary buildings. The (c. 3 m wide) northern building comprised wall segments built of two rows of fieldstones and two superimposed plaster floors, the walls extending eastwards beyond the excavation area. The southern building was larger, and its walls (max. length c. 12 m) were built of pebbles and large fieldstones; these walls extended westwards beyond the excavation limits. Another wall was exposed directly to the north of the southern building, and beside it lay a rock-cut cooking pit (0.8 m deep; Fig. 16) containing black soil and animal bones; it is not clear whether these remains belonged to the building or to another structure. The finds from Area D comprise characteristic Late PPNB flint and stone tools. The flint tools include arrowheads and sickle blades, one of the sickle blades bearing traces of an adhesive substance. Among the stone tools are a polished limestone axe and a polished pendant made of an obsidian flake. North of Area D, a quarry, in which fragments of an iron nail and a plastic button were found, is probably recent.
Chalcolithic Period. Finds retrieved from the fifth millennium BCE include flint tools, prominent among which are sickle blades with a retouched back, retouched bladelets and bifacial tools (adzes), as well as potsherds characteristic of the pre-Ghassulian phase, similar to those found in excavations on Jasmine Street in Abu Gosh (Milevskiet al. 2015).
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
. Throughout the excavation area, the finds are fairly uniform, consisting of flint and stone artifacts, many animal bones, and a few botanical samples. The flint assemblage is characteristic of Late PPNB, and medium-sized ‘Amuq arrowheads, a few Byblos-type arrowheads, denticulated sickle blades and bifacial knives are particularly well represented. The sickle blades have coarse, pronounced denticulation; some have two cutting edges, and others have a retouched back and a single cutting edge. The stone items include grinding and crushing implements, mostly of hard limestone, as well as numerous bracelets that are well-known from contemporary sites (Garfinkel and Dag 2008
:189–192, Figs. 91, 92). To date, only samples of the animal-bone assemblage have been analyzed, revealing that domesticated animal bones (goat and cattle) comprise over one-third of all the animal bones at the site, the remaining species belonging to non-domesticated species. The botanical remains are legumes, edible lentils (Lens culinaris
) and fava beans (Vicia faba
). Radiometric dates have so far been obtained from Areas A and C, one of a seed and the other of a substance containing collagen; both have been dated to the early seventh millennium BCE Late PPNB.
The trial excavations at the site are particularly significant due to the discovery of extensive settlement remains with a plethora of finds dating from the final phase of PPNB (7000–6700 BCE). This period is relatively short (300–400 years) and is characterized by ‘mega sites’ covering dozens of dunams. The northern and southern boundaries of the site are not clear, but the settlement appears to have spanned dozens of dunams, extending beyond the excavation areas. Prior to the current excavation, the earlier and middle phases of PPNB were discovered at Tel Moz
a (Khalaily et al. 2005
), but the period’s final phase was not represented. A partial examination of the animal bones shows that domesticated animals were raised at the settlement. It may have been the need for flock- and herd-raising pasture land that led to the southward expansion of the settlement towards Nah
al Arza and beyond the center of the tell. The discovery of the site at Moz
a is an exciting innovation, since it is one of the largest sites from this period in the Levant and the first of such proportions to be excavated west of the Jordan River.