During August 2006, a trial excavation was conducted within the precincts of the college at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Tiberias (Permit No. A-4877; map ref. 25134/74168), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by E. Amos (surveying), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration) and N. Getzov (guidance).
The excavation area was located on the western fringes of Hammat, west of the northern synagogue (N. Slouschz, 1921. Qovetz A, A, pp. 5–39), c. 100 m north of the southern synagogue (M. Dothan. 1983. Hammath Tiberias I: Early Synagogues. Jerusalem) and c. 300 m southwest of the Roman gate (IAA Reports 21; Permit No. A-5493).
Two squares (A, B) were opened next to a modern building. Modern debris was found in Square A (3×4 m), on the slope southwest of the building. A rectangular building, aligned east–west, was exposed in Square B (3.5×4.5 m; Fig. 1), northwest of the building. Two construction phases from the Abbasid period were noted in the building, the first (I) from the middle of the ninth–the middle of the tenth centuries CE, and the second (II) from the middle of the tenth–second half of the eleventh centuries CE. The excavation ended before the foundations of the building or earlier strata were exposed.
Phase I. An elongated rectangular building (1.8×4.0 m; Fig. 2), oriented northeast-southwest, was exposed. It was delimited by walls on the northwest (W4; height 0.6 m), northeast (W5; height 0.8 m) and southeast (W22; height 1.8 m; Fig. 3). The walls (width 0.6 m) were built of large basalt ashlars, arranged in courses with small fieldstones in-between. There was probably an opening in W22, whose southeastern side was only exposed (Fig. 4); the doorway’s lintel and doorjamb were destroyed. Fill of soil and fieldstones (L17) was discovered inside the building. Two parallel walls (W15, W16), 2 m apart, were exposed northwest of the building and perpendicular to W4; it seems that they delimited another room or building. A layer of ash (L25) and stone collapse (L20; not on plan) that was almost as high as the tops of the walls (Fig. 5) were found southeast of the building. These probably evince a destruction that negated the use of the building for a period of time. The interior of the building was not excavated and it is therefore unclear if Fill 17 predated or postdated the destruction of the building and if the opening in W22 was indeed built.
The recovered potsherds dated to the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE) and included slipped bowls that are glazed green and yellow and sometimes splashed with brown paint, fragments of buff-ware pottery vessels and an intact lamp, as well as numerous glass vessels. The wall foundations were not excavated but the ceramic finds near the bottom courses of W22 included fragments of pottery vessels that dated from mid-ninth–mid-tenth centuries CE.
Phase II. The northeastern corner of the building was repaired with ashlars (W23) and its interior was divided into two by a wall (W3). The eastern side of W3 was abutted by a floor of flat fieldstones (L16; Fig. 6), set on Fill 17. A room (L11; width 2 m) was partly exposed southwest of W3; it was delimited in the northwest by W4 and in the southeast by W18, which deviated from the course of W22. Next to the southeastern side of W18 were three flat, round basalt stones (thickness 0.10–0.15 m), placed one next to the other at intervals of 0.1 m (L21; Fig. 7).
The pottery vessels overlying Floor 16 dated this phase to the tenth–eleventh centuries CE.
The exposed building remains were apparently part of a large construction complex from the Abbasid period (ninth–eleventh centuries CE); however, due to the limited excavation area it was not possible to evaluate its plan or function. Tiberias reached the height of its expansion in this period; Hammat was included within the city limits and the area between them was filled with dense construction.