In June 2013 an excavation was conducted at Khirbat al-Hammam (Permit No. A-6818; map ref. 199595-613/648784-98; Fig. 1), after A. Re’em identified antiquities that were damaged during development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Authority Antiquities, was directed by O. Segal, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), C. Ben-Ari (GIS and location map), A. Peretz (photo), D. Porotsky (drafting), P. Gendelman (pottery reading), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing) and A. ‘Azab and A. Shadman.
ammam extends across the ridge that borders the western side of Nah
al Modi‘in, between H
orbat Ha-Gardi to the north and Kabur el-Yahur (Tomb of the Maccabees) to the south – sites that are identified with the family graves of the Maccabees. In 1870 Victor Guérin explored the sites in El-Midya village north of Nah
al Modi‘in. In his discussions with the village elders he became aware of the local Arabic tradition stating that all of the remains southwest of the stream (Khirbat el-H
ammam, Kabur el-Yahud and H
orbat Ha-Gardi) were all part of a city named El-Midya. At el-H
ammam, Guérin identified the remains of ashlar-built structures, tesserae
, cisterns and remains of a building that the local residents attributed to a bathhouse; hence the name of the ruin (Guérin 1984:35–36). Several surveys were performed in and around the site over the years (Zissu and Perry 2008; Shavit 2013: Site 122
; Fischer, Isaac and Roll 1996
:218), but the ruin itself has never been excavated.
One excavation square was opened at the western edge of the site, and a building from the Early Roman period was exposed in which a lime kiln was dug in the Early Islamic period (Figs. 2, 3).
Building. The building dates to the Early Roman period, and sections of five rooms (L101, L103, L108, L114) were exposed that extended to the west, east and north, beyond the excavation square. Only small trial trenches were excavated in Rooms 103 and 108. Building stones identified on the surface west and northwest of the excavation square were cleaned and documented for the purpose of drawing a plan of the building. These walls apparently belonged mainly to Room 101 (3.5 × 3.5 m). A gap (length c. 2 m) that separated two parts of the wall that delimit this room from the northwest (W105, W112; overall length 8 m) was apparently the result of damage caused by mechanical equipment. A trench (width 1 m) was excavated in Room 108 and a floor foundation made of small fieldstones was exposed, as well as a small section of plaster that may be remains of a floor that was largely destroyed. The ceramic finds recovered from on the floor generally date to the Early Roman period (first century CE, until the Great Revolt) and include a krater (Fig. 4:2), a jar (Fig. 4:3), and body sherds of two juglets (Fig. 5:4, 5). In addition, several fragments of earlier pottery vessels were found on the floor, such as a krater that dates to the Iron Age (Fig. 4:1).
Kiln. A lime kiln (inner diam. 2 m) was constructed inside Room 102 and on top of its walls (W105, W109; 2 × 2 m). Stones taken from the building were used in the construction of the kiln. At least four courses (depth 1 m) of the kiln’s wall were preserved. Loose gray matter containing sherds that date from the Early Roman period to the Early Islamic period was found inside the kiln. The finds dating to the Byzantine period included bowls from Phocaea (Fig. 5:1, 2), a jar (Fig. 5:3), whole sandal lamps (menorah type lamps; Fig. 5:4); a jar (Fig. 5:6) and a jug (Fig. 5:7) all of which dated from the end of the Byzantine period to the transition to the beginning of the Early Islamic period; whereas most of the vessels date to the Early Islamic period: basins (Fig. 5:8–10 and jars (Fig. 5:11, 12).
A fragment of a marble table, the upper part of which is shaped like a bowl (Fig. 5:5), is a special find that was discovered in the excavation of the kiln. Such tables first appeared in fourth century CE, and they also continued to be used in the Byzantine period. It probably originated in a church.
Although the limited excavation revealed a section of a building from the Early Roman period, the numerous building stones that were scattered in the area suggest that the structure was part of a settlement. Presumably this settlement existed during the Early Roman period, until the time of the Great Revolt. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Iron, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, together with the lime kiln, are indicative of activity at the site during these times, as was also revealed in the surveys that were previously conducted there.
Fischer M., Isaac B. and Roll I. 1996. Roman Roads in Judaea II
: The Jaffa–Jerusalem Roads
(BAR Int. S. 628). Oxford.
Guérin V. 1984. A Geographic, Historical and Archaeological Description of the Land of Israel 5: Samaria (II). (transl. from the French by Haim Ben-Amram). Jerusalem (Hebrew).
Zissu B. and Perry L. 2007. Identification of Ancient Modi‘in and Byzantine Moditha – Towards a Solution of a Geographical-Historical Issue. Cathedra 125 (Hebrew: pp. 1–18; English summary: p. 189).