The stronghold was built on a platform of various size fieldstones (0.3×0.6–0.5×0.8 m; Figs. 3–5), randomly arranged in dry construction. The eastern part of the platform was preserved c. 4 m high and its western part survived to c. 3 m high. The difference in heights is a result of the topographic conditions—the uplifting of rock and soil layers from the Dead Sea in the direction of Har Sedom. The stronghold is square (13×21 m) and bounded by walls on the north (W12), west (W18) and south (W16); the eastern wall was not preserved. The walls were constructed on top of the platform and consisted of a row of large fieldstones that were roughly hewn on their outside (0.3×0.5–0.5×1.0 m). The western and northern walls were preserved two courses high (0.75–1.20 m) and the southern wall survived to six courses high (2 m). Tree branches were incorporated between the stone courses in the walls of the building. Staircases built of medium-sized fieldstones (0.3×0.5–0.4×0.9 m), which descended toward the east, were exposed in the north and south of the stronghold. The stones in the staircase were arranged unevenly, placed lengthwise or widthwise and sometimes on their sharp side. The southern staircase (L108; 3.5×4.5 m; Fig. 6) was delimited by two walls, in the north (W16) and in the south (W17); it led east to a surface of large fieldstones (L109) that was part of the platform’s lower level. The northern staircase (L113; 1.8×8.0 m) was also bounded by two walls, in the south (W12) and in the north (W20). Both staircases were actually sloping stepped surfaces, streets of sorts, that might have been used for tying up the boats that arrived by sea. An inclined retaining wall of soil and different size fieldstones meant to support the platform (L111, L112, L115) was built around the stronghold’s northern, southern and western sides. Stepped rows of roughly hewn fieldstones that ascended to the top of the platform were placed on the eastern side facing the Dead Sea. A room in the center of the stronghold was enclosed on four sides by walls, in the north (W13), in the east (W11), in the south (W14), and in the west (W19; Fig. 7), built inside the platform of a row of fieldstones that were roughly hewn on their inside (dimensions 0.2×0.3–0.5×0.6 m). The walls were preserved two–three courses high (0.8–1.2 m). The bottoms of the walls were abutted by a tamped earthen floor on a bedding of wadi pebbles (L107; size of pebbles 0.20×0.25 m), deposited on the platform; a level of dark ash (L102; height 0.35 m) had overlain the floor. The entrance to the room was not identified; therefore, the opening might have been from above, on a ladder, and the room was used as a storeroom or cellar. South of the room, on top of the platform’s stones, was an ash level (L104; height 0.34 m) of a room whose walls were not preserved.
Six samples were selected for radiometric analysis (see appendix), among them four samples of the floral remains, one sample of a tree and one sample of charred wood that were found on the southern staircase (the inclined surface, L109, L110), between the stones of the southern retaining wall (L112) and inside the stone platform of the stronghold (L105). A dating by the analysis process could only be derived from the four samples of the floral remains (RTK 6316, 6317, 6320, 6321; see appendix below). Three of these dated to the modern era (the seventeenth–twentieth centuries CE). One sample (6321), which was discovered inside the stones of the platform, was dated to the end of Iron Age IIA–beginning of Iron Age IIB (900–740 BCE).
Several potsherds that dated to the first century BCE were found on the southern staircase (L108, L110), among them a Hellenistic bowl (Fig. 8:1), three cooking pots (Fig.8:2–4) with everted necks that were common to the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea region in the first century BCE, and one of them (Fig. 8:4) continued to be used in the first century CE, jugs (Fig. 8:5, 6), and a base of a bottle (Fig. 8:7), possibly an unguentarium that was common to the fourth–first centuries BCE.
Structures with a stone-built platform and sloping retaining walls that have tree branches incorporated in their walls are characteristic of the strongholds on the western shore of the Dead Sea and were dated to the Iron Age, among them Mesad Zohar, Rujm al-Bahr and Qasr al-Yahud. The sample taken from between the stones of the stronghold’s platform (L105) was dated by radiocarbon means to the ninth–first half of the eighth centuries BCE and it is therefore possible that the stronghold was built in the Iron Age. It was used again in the first century BCE and was abandoned a second time. It seems that Mezad Gozal, like the other strongholds, was meant to protect the western shore of the Dead Sea and the ancient trade route that ran between the south and the north (Jerusalem) and passed just west of the shoreline.

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