The eastern part of a large room (Room 1; length 7 m; Fig. 3) was uncovered in the western part of the excavation area. Only the foundations of the room’s walls (W112, W113, W133, W135) were preserved; the foundations were built of three–four courses of roughly dressed kurkar stones bonded with gray mortar (average height c. 0.6 m). The foundations were constructed in natural sandy soil. The room and its surroundings sustained damage when modern sewage infrastructures were built (L111, L114). Toppled kurkar building stones, unfired hamra mud bricks and fragments of Late Ottoman-period pottery vessels were exposed south and east of the room (L119, L121, L132, L141; Fig. 4). It seems that the mud bricks were originally part of the walls of the room that had collapsed after the building was abandoned. The collapse in L132 yielded a complete Gaza Ware jug dating to the Late Ottoman period that had been smashed in situ (Fig. 5:14) together with Marseilles roof tiles, some of which were lying one on top of the other (Fig. 6). The upper part of the wall, which had toppled, was built of unfired mudbricks; it was exposed lying on the ground near the northern face of Wall Foundation 113 (L123; Fig. 7). A section of a floor made of tamped gray soil was exposed next to the outside southern corner of the room (L137). The context of the floor is unclear because of the poor state of preservation of its surrounding area; however, it may be the floor of a courtyard or another room that did not survive.
A segment of a wall foundation (W122; height 0.6 m; Fig. 8) built of roughly hewn kurkar stones and bonded with gray mortar was discovered in the eastern part of the excavation area; it continued eastward, beyond the excavation limits. Stone collapse similar to the collapse found next to Room 1 (L129) was discovered north of the wall.
Numerous fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Mamluk and Ottoman periods were retrieved. The finds from the Mamluk period include fragments of a green-glazed bowl (Fig. 5:1), a carinated bowl (Fig. 5:2), a krater (Fig. 5:3), a cooking pot (Fig. 5:4) and a jar (Fig. 5:5). The finds from the Ottoman period include Gaza Ware vessels such as bowls (Fig. 5:6–9), a cooking pot (Fig. 5:10), jars (Fig. 5:11, 12) and a jug (Fig. 5:13). Seven coins were unearthed, including an Umayyad fals (post-reform; 697–750 CE; IAA 157353), two Mamluk coins (fourteenth century CE; IAA 157355, 157356), an early Ottoman manghir struck at the Misr el-Mah(1574–1617 CE; rousa mint IAA 157354), a gold yirmilik of Mahmud II struck at the mint in Constantinia  (1834/5 CE) and two coins of Mahmud V—a 10 para denomination (1914/5 CE) and a 40 para denomination (1911/2 CE). Among the other artifacts were a bronze bell (Fig. 9:1), a bone comb (Fig. 9:2) and fragments of glass bracelets (Fig. 9:3).
Alexander Glick
Fragments of ten rounds of ammunition were collected, including three complete bullets, six shell cartridges and one bullet (projectile) (Table 1; Fig. 10). Eight of the items (1–8) are related to military activity that took place during the First World War, while the remaining two items (9, 10) are attributed to military activity during the Second World War. The artifacts were very poorly preserved because they were found close to the surface and suffered from severe corrosion.
Table 1. Ammunition
Date (CE)
A whole British Type MkVI 0.303 bullet; unfired
Colonial Ammunition Co., Auckland, New Zealand
There is a slight possibility that this item was produced in this manufacturer’s Australian branch
A whole British Type MkVI 0.303 bullet(?); unfired
Early twentieth century CE
A British Type MkVII 0.303 cartridge; without primer
Kynoch & Co., Witton, Birmingham, U.K.
A whole British Type MkVII 0.303 bullet; unfired
Peters Cartridge Co., Kings Mills, Ohio, U.S.
A British Type MkVI 0.303 cartridge; without primer
Colonial Ammunition Co., Auckland, New Zealand
There is a slight possibility that this item was produced in this manufacturer’s Australian branch
A British 0.303 cartridge; fired
Winchester Repeating Arms Co., New Haven, Conn., U.S.
A British 0.303 round head bullet, probably Type MkVI 0.303; no signs of having been fired
Early twentieth century CE
A British 0.303 cartridge; fired
Winchester Repeating Arms Co., New Haven, Conn., U.S.
Cartridges 9 and 10 were fitted one on top of the other to form a kind of capsule
A fired cartridge of a 20-mm cannon, Model 20 × 110 Hispano-Suiza HS.404
Brassware Co., Barking, Essex, U.K.
A fired cartridge of a 12.7 mm (0.5 inch) Browning heavy machine gun
Remington Arms Co. Inc., Bridgeport, Conn., U.S.
Items from the First World War. Three complete rounds of ammunition, four cartridges and one bullet (projectile) were discovered, all British 0.303-inch caliber. They were the principal ammunition used in the British military’s small arms—Lee-Enfield rifles and machine guns—during the First World War. Half of these items (Type MKVI) were manufactured in a British colony, probably New Zealand; three were manufactured in the United States, which supplied ammunition to the British in the First World War and only one item was produced in England itself. Half of the items of Type MKVI had a round head bullet and a thin coating on the core. These bullets were produced in England from 1904 until 1910, and they were replaced with the Type MKVII ammunition.
Only Type MKVII ammunition has been discovered in excavations along Israel’s coastal plain. During the First World War, battles were fought in this region in 1917–1918, and the English were already no longer using the older type of ammunition. MKVI ammunition was found in the eastern parts of Israel, where Indian units operated. These units received supplies from the Kirkee Company in India, which continued to manufacture MKVI ammunition even after 1910.
This excavation is the first to discover MKVI ammunition on the coastal plain. However, the ammunition was not produced in India but was manufactured by the CAC Company in New Zealand or Australia in 1911 and 1913. The ammunition items include very few objects that originated in England itself. The origin of the finds discovered in the excavation seems to indicate the unit to which they belonged. According to historical sources, on November 13, 1917, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps—ANZAC), which fought with the British military, crossed Nahal Lachish and stayed for one night (the exact location of the camp was not specified). On the morning of November 14, the brigade continued toward the village of El-Qubayba and ‘Ayun Kara (‘En Ha-Koré), where it fought one of its most famous battles (Wilkie 1924:166–168). The excavation area extended along the first ridge of hills north of Nahal Lachish, between the stream and El-Qubayba. Apparently, in this area there was an outpost of the New Zealand brigade that took control of the hill and protected its forces after crossing the stream.
This excavation revealed for the first time an outpost of the New Zealand brigade in the country in a clear historical context. The brigade’s use of MKVI ammunition from 1911 and 1913 at the end of 1917 shows that these munitions continued to be produced in New Zealand even after their manufacture was halted in 1910, and that the New Zealand units used out-of-date munitions as opposed to their brothers-in-arms from England.
Items from the Second World War. An empty capsule composed of two cartridges was discovered. Similar capsules were often used to store letters. The large cartridge was that of a shell fired from a Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20 mm cannon and was manufactured in England in the 1940s. This cannon, which was originally from France, was produced in England from 1940 and was part of the armaments on fighter aircraft. In Israel, it was used, among other things, to arm Spitfire and Beaufighter airplanes. Later, it was manufactured in the United States as an antiaircraft gun that was mounted on vehicles, including half-tracks, and was also supplied to the British Army. Prior to the establishment of the state, the Haganah began acquiring such guns, first for use against planes and tanks, and later for the Spitfires and Beaufighters that were purchased. The small cartridge that was inserted inside the larger cartridge to form a capsule belonged to an American Browning 0.5-inch heavy machine gun and was produced in the United States in 1941. The machine gun was supplied to the Allies during World War II, both for arming aircraft and for use on land and sea. The machine gun was first used by the IDF during the War of Independence and is still in use today.
It is possible that the capsule discovered in the excavation belonged to a soldier from the nearby base at Tel Nof. The base was established on the eve of World War II by the Royal Air Force and was named Aqir. During the war, Spitfires were based at the airfield and were armed with Hispano-Suiza HS.404 guns that used 20 mm ammunition and Tomahawk and Liberator airplanes that were equipped with Browning 0.5-inch heavy machine guns. Spitfire and Beaufighter airplanes of the Israel Air Force were stationed at the base during the War of Independence. Yet, it should be remembered that this ammunition was also used in land-based weapons, and it could have been used in antiaircraft weapons at the base or by land units that operated in the area at the time of the British Mandate or during the establishment of the state.
The remains of the buildings that were exposed in the excavation date to the end of the Ottoman period and belonged to the Arab village of Bashshit. The finds clearly confirm Guérin’s description of the mud brick construction of the village houses in the Late Ottoman period. Most of the pottery from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods was not discovered in a clear stratigraphic context; however, it does indicate that the settlement at the site was inhabited continuously during these periods.