Building Remains and Tombs from the Byzantine Period (Fig. 3)
Square A. Remains of an ancient quarry (L18) and four tombs (T16, T17, T20, T24; Fig. 4), oriented east–west, were discovered. Tomb 17 was bedrock-hewn (c. 0.3 m below surface) and most of Tomb 24 was located east of the excavation area. A bedrock wall of the quarry served as the northern side of Tombs 16 and 20 and their southern side was built of ashlars. All the graves were found covered with large stone slabs and the gaps were filled in with smaller stones. Three of the covering stones of Tomb 20 were removed because initially, it was regarded as a covered water channel; its contents were excavated until a human skull was discovered, at which point work was suspended. The soil removed from the tomb contained no artifacts.
Squares B, C. The foundations of two parallel walls (W14, W23), oriented east–west, were discovered. The walls were founded on bedrock and in one spot the foundations were set in a shallow rock-cutting that was leveled for this purpose. The foundations, built of nari ashlars, attest to the presence of a large building (Fig. 5). Reddish soil fill, mixed with potsherds and overlain with a layer of hard plaster, was found sporadically between the two walls. This was probably the bedding of a mosaic floor that was slightly higher than the elevation of the surviving wall. A section of an in situ mosaic floor on top of a thick plaster bedding (Fig. 6) was discovered next to the northern side of W23 and c. 0.2 m above its survived top. The tesserae were small and displayed a colorful geometric pattern and another pattern, whose shape was unclear. Upon dismantling the mosaic section it became clear that this was not the first floor installed, as numerous other tesserae were mixed in the floor bedding. It was clearly evident in the section that the floor abutted W23, whose upper courses were not preserved.
The bedrock in these squares was also close to surface and the building was preceded by a quarry, which was canceled by the construction of its walls.
Wall 14 extended above a natural hollow in the bedrock (Fig. 7), which was found filled with fist-sized stones, overlain with fine black soil; hollows of this kind were used in the Roman period as ‘flower pots’ for saplings (‘Atiqot 48:99*–104* [Hebrew]). Two deep parallel grooves in the bedrock were located north of W14, and it seems that these marked stone quarrying that was never completed.
The finds in Squares A–C included relatively few pottery fragments, mostly dating to the Byzantine period (fifth–seventh centuries CE), including an imported bowl (Fig. 8:1), imported krater (Fig. 8:2) and a jar (Fig. 8:3). Numerous pieces of roof tiles, a single fragment of a rhomboid floor tile of red stone (slate?) in the opus sectile technique, and many marble fragments, including one that was decorated with part of a cross in relief (Fig. 9), were found.
The exposed remains were probably those of a Byzantine church. This assumption is based on the orientation of the walls, the organized and massive construction, the colorful mosaic floor, roof tiles, floor tile and the marble fragment adorned with a cross. The tombs could be related to the church and may have been used for the burial of church officials, as was customary in contemporary churches.
Excavation Squares With No Architectural Remains (Fig. 10)
Square G. Except for a few pottery fragments, no antiquities were discovered.
Square H. Bedrock was exposed in most of the square area, including a large natural depression in its center. A small section of a coarse white mosaic (L301; size of tesserae c. 2 × 2 cm) was discovered in the western corner, suggesting the presence of some installation, probably an olive or winepress. A meager foundation of a fieldstone wall, built directly upon bedrock, was discovered next to the southern corner.
Square J. A quarry with three bedrock steps was discovered in the northeastern half of the square; signs of rock-cutting and extraction of building stones were clearly visible (Fig. 11). The southwestern half of the square was found filled with two distinct layers of stone chipping debris, separated by a layer of clean brown soil (thickness c. 5 cm). The bottom debris layer was almost completely clean, whereas the upper layer was mixed with numerous potsherds from the Byzantine period, which mostly could be restored. Most of the potsherds were locally produced jars and jar lids, imported amphorae and many fragments of roof tiles. Two coins were found; one dating to the Late Roman period (383–395 CE; IAA 106191) and the other is illegible.
It seems that after an interval, when the quarry was abandoned, it was used as a refuse dump in the Byzantine period. The many jar fragments suggest that oil or wine were produced in the immediate vicinity.
Square P. Many fragments of pottery vessels were found on the bedrock in the northern third of the square, which may be the end of or continuation of the refuse site discovered in Square J. Another quarry was exposed in the south of the square.
Square S. A thick layer (c. 2 m) of soil mixed with quarrying debris and small potsherds was discovered on the bedrock.
Square Z. Bedrock was exposed at a depth of several centimeters. A few fragments of pottery vessels, including a number of glazed potsherds from the Middle Ages or later and many tesserae were discovered.
Besides the coins and the floor tile fragment mentioned above, a very small number of glass fragments were recovered from the excavation, all dating to the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE). The most important artifacts were the ceramic finds, recovered mostly from the refuse dump in Area J, which included imported bowls (Fig. 12:1–3), kraters (Fig. 12:4–6), an imported krater (Fig. 12:7), cooking pots (Fig. 12:8–11), a lid (Fig. 12:12), jars (Fig. 13:1–4), imported amphorae (Fig. 13:5–7), jugs (Fig. 13:8–10) and ‘Phoenician’ lamps (Fig. 13:11, 12).