This grooved lower grinding stone was used to hand-mill grain. For its ancient user, the grooves were a helpful feature: they facilitated milling by catching the raw kernels and holding them steady while a heavy upper stone was dragged back and forth, crushing the grain into flour. Those same grooves are also helpful to an archaeologist today: their nooks and crannies retain microscopic fossilized remains of phytoliths and starch granules, components embedded in the grain’s tissues and endosperm that can become fragmented and released in the action of milling. Because phytoliths and starch granules can be distinguished by shape and size, which correlate to specific plant species, archaeologists can use them to help identify the type of grain people used to make their bread.
This particular stone was not analyzed for residues, so we do not have direct evidence for the types of grains being milled at Tel Anafa. But we may get a clue from a study done at Tel Kedesh, a site located nearby on the plateau overlooking the Hula Valley on its western side. In the third century BCE, when this region was under the rule of the Ptolemaic empire of Egypt, there was a large administrative compound at Kedesh. Analyses done on two storage jars from the compound found that they had held Triticum aestivum (bread wheat), a strain known in Egyptian papyri as “Syrian wheat” and thought to have been cultivated experimentally by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, ruler of Egypt in the mid-third century BCE.
At this same time, down in the valley, the small site of Tel Anafa housed a few poor farmsteads. It is likely that those living here worked under the auspices of Ptolemaic officials at Kedesh, growing and milling Triticum aestivum either for the direct benefit of those officials or for collection as tax revenue. Perhaps the farmers of Tel Anafa retained some of this special grain, using this grinding stone to turn it into loaves of bread for themselves and their families.
 Wells et al. in TA II, ii, p. 300.
 Garcia-Granero, Juan Jose, Carla Lancelotti, and Marco Madella. “A Methodological Approach to the Study of Microbotanical Remains from Grinding Stones: A Case Study in Northern Gujarat ( India ),” Vegetative History and Archaeobotany 26 (2017): 43–57. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-016-0557-z.
 Piperno, Dolores R. Phytoliths: A Comprehensive Guide for Archaeologists and Paleoecologists. Lanham: Altamira Press, 2006; Cortella, A.R., and M.L. Pochettino. “Starch Grain Analysis as a Microscopic Diagnostic Feature in the Identification of Plant Material.” Economic Botany 48, no. 2 (1994): 171–81.
 Berlin, Andrea M., Terry Ball, Robert Thompson, and Sharon C. Herbert. “Ptolemaic Agriculture, ‘Syrian Wheat’, and Triticum Aestivum.” Journal of Archaeological Science 30, no. 1 (2003), pp. 115–21, esp. pp. 119-20. https://doi.org/10.1006/jasc.2002.0812.