The Residential Units
The three residential units were revealed beneath an accumulation of soil and collapsed stones, mainly flint stones of various sizes. The remains were well preserved. Each residential unit consisted of a large open courtyard and several roofed or partially covered rooms. The walls of the rooms (width 0.55–0.70 m, max. preserved height 1.9 m) were built of two rows of partly dressed flint blocks of medium and large size. In most walls, the outer face was built of larger stones than the inner face. The building’s exterior walls were wider than the interior walls. Some of the walls, particularly in the northern row of rooms, were partly hewn in bedrock. The floors in the rooms were founded directly on bedrock, which was smoothed in places. Stone thresholds, doorjambs and lintels often made of decorated, well-dressed limestone blocks (Fig. 7) were found in the doorways between the rooms. Built and hewn installations were unearthed inside the rooms. The farmstead is a single-period site, in which architectural modifications and building additions indicate at least two construction phases.
The Southeastern Residential Unit (inner dimensions c. 12 × 20 m; henceforth all dimensions are inner dimensions) included an open courtyard (R1) and three rooms (R2–R4). A threshold stone, probably the remains of a doorway, was discovered in the southern wall of the courtyard (W25). A habitation level of compacted earth mixed with large amounts of ash was exposed in the courtyard (c. 12 × 15 m). In the northern part of the courtyard, the habitation level rested on a bedding of crushed and tamped limestone (L176) covered the bedrock. Remains of two ovens were discovered in the courtyard’s southwestern corner (L201). Two openings, leading into Rooms 2 and 3, were set in the western wall of the courtyard (W13). The threshold stones and doorjambs were preserved in both entrances; the doors installed in them seem to have opened into the rooms.
The western wall of Room 2 (c. 4 × 5 m) was not exposed. A round granary (L203) made of mudbrick material and a small oven (L202) were uncovered near the opening in the northeastern corner of the room. Both installations were constructed on the bedrock and were enclosed by a row of stones set on their narrow side. In the southeastern corner of the room was a raised rectangular installation (L197; min. dimensions 1.0 × 1.2 m) built of small stones and ash and delimited by a wall built of large, partially dressed limestone blocks.
Room 3 (c. 5 × 7 m; Fig. 8) was the largest of the rooms in the unit and had a tamped-earth floor (L198). Two piers of dressed limestone blocks leaned against the northern (W18) and southern (W30) walls of the room. It seems that the piers, which stood opposite each other, carried an arch that supported the ceiling of the room. A raised rectangular installation (L199; c. 1.5 × 2.4 m) was built between the southern pier and W13; its construction resembles that of Installation 197 in Room 2, but was coated with mud. A window that opened onto Room 2 was set in the W30, above the installation. An opening in the western part of this wall was sealed with stones, suggesting that this opening with connected Rooms 2 and 3 was intentionally blocked at some later phase. Room 3 was rich in finds: pottery sherds, metal items, glass fragments and various stone objects were found above Floor 198.
Room 4 (c. 1.7 × 2.1 m) was small, and no opening was found in its walls. Its southern wall (W24) was constructed over a layer of ash, and its foundation was more massive than that of the other walls in the unit. The room had a floor made of soil and ash. An oven was built on the floor, near the eastern wall (W14) of the room. A large, flat river pebble was placed at the bottom of the oven, and the oven’s walls rested on a circle of smaller pebbles. The spot, which served as a cooking area, was probably first delimited only by the room’s western wall (W23), which protected it from the wind, and enclosed by W24 only at a later phase.
The Northeastern Residential Unit (c. 12 × 20 m; Fig. 9) included an open courtyard (R5) and eight rooms (R6–R13). An opening was discovered in the eastern wall of the courtyard (W14). In the courtyard (c. 6 × 12 m) was a tamped level of soil and small stones (L111) that was laid on the bedrock. Ash and numerous pottery sherds were discovered above Level 111. Two openings leading into Rooms 6 and 7 were set in the northern wall of the courtyard (W15); judging by the construction of the openings, it seems that the doors installed in them opened into the rooms (Fig. 10).
Room 6 (c. 5.4 × 6.9 m) was the largest room in the unit, and its walls were covered on the inside with mud. An opening set in the eastern wall of the room (W16) connected Rooms 6 and 7 (Fig. 11). There was apparently a door in that entrance which opened into Room 7. Fragments of a floor (L125, L129; Fig. 12) built of small, flat flint stones were discovered in the room. A thick layer of ash (max. thickness 0.5 m) was discovered in the northwestern part of Room 6, where the stone pavement was not preserved; this ash layer continued west beneath the western wall of the room (W13) to Room 13. A rock-cut granary (L164; 0.6 × 1.0, depth 1.5 m) and hewn pits and depressions (L117, L118, L131, L133) were exposed below the ash layer. In the southwestern corner of the room was a small square installation (c. 0.8 × 0.8 m) built of flat flint stones.
Three openings were discovered in Room 7 (c. 4.4 × 5.5 m; Fig. 13). A threshold stone and an adjacent in situ stone socket were preserved in an opening set in the southern wall (W15), which connected Room 7 with the courtyard. The other two openings were set in the room’s eastern wall (W20) and led to Rooms 8 and 9. The opening that led to R9 was deliberately blocked in a later phase of the structure. The bedrock served as the floor in the room; six rectangular or elliptical granaries of various sizes (L136, L137, L140, L146) were built of mudbrick material on the bedrock floor; five of these installations were constructed adjacent to the walls of the room. Granary 140 was built after the opening adjacent to it had been sealed with stones in a later phase of the building. Soft soil, almost devoid of finds, was discovered inside the granaries.
A raised square installation (L135; c. 1.2 × 1.2 m) built primarily of rectangular limestone slabs was exposed in the northeastern corner of the room. The installation was treated on the inside with hydraulic plaster, indicating that it was used for storing liquids. South of the installation was an oven (L141). Numerous stone objects, including in-situ millstones, were found on the floor of the room.
The walls of Room 8 (c. 1.7 × 3.0 m) were founded on bedrock. In the northern half of the room, a hewn opening led into a natural cave (L128; 3 × 4 m, depth 2 m). The natural opening of this cave was revealed beneath the northern wall of the room (W11); this opening was canceled with the construction of the farmstead. A soft earthen fill, almost devoid of finds, was discovered in the cave.
A rock-hewn installation (L127) was exposed in Room 9 (c. 1.7 × 1.8 m; Fig. 14). An opening that led to R10 was discovered in W15; the door that was installed in the entrance opened into Room 9.
Rooms 10 (c. 2.1 × 2.4 m) and 11 (c. 0.7 × 2.0 m) were a single space that was divided by a narrow partition (W22). Two openings were set in the walls of Room 10, one that led from Room 9 and the other from Courtyard 5.
Rooms 12 (c. 5.3 × 5.8 m) and 13 (c. 5.2 × 5.5 m) were built in a later phase. The eastern wall of these rooms (W13) was founded on a layer of ash (L109, L174) and was carelessly constructed of a single row of large stones. No opening was identified in Room 1, although it was probably set in W13. The bedrock, which sloped toward the northeast, was utilized as a floor. A habitation level with a large amount of ash was exposed above the floor. In the southwestern corner of the room were two ovens (L179; Fig. 15) built one inside the other. In the eastern part of the room was a rock-cut pit (L181; diam. c. 1.9 m, depth c. 0.6 m); its irregular shape suggests that its quarrying was never completed; ash was discovered at the bottom of the pit. In W15, which separated Rooms 12 and 13, was an opening with a staircase (Fig. 16). Collapsed stones belonging to a doorjamb were found next to the opening.
Two rectangular installations (L192; eastern—c. 0.9 × 2.3 m; western—c. 0.7 × 2.0 m; Fig. 17) were exposed in the southeastern and southwestern corners of Room 13. Both installations were enclosed by a row of upright stones. The installations were built mainly of dressed limestone blocks of various sizes.
The Western Residential Unit (c. 15 × 19 m) included an open courtyard (R14) and at least two rooms (R15, R16). The unit was constructed on high bedrock and was poorly preserved. No interior walls were exposed in the western part of the unit; it is possible that they were not preserved, or this may have been the area of the courtyard. The entrance to the unit was apparently set in the southern wall of courtyard (W26). Wall 26 was only partially preserved and it seems that it spanned the opening of a cave (L189), which was blocked with debris; the cave was not excavated.
In the courtyard (max. dimensions c. 9 × 19 m), a habitation level was exposed on the bedrock, of which several sections had been hewn smooth (L153). An elliptical rock-cut pit (L182; c. 0.6 × 0.9 m, depth 0.3 m) was discovered in the northeastern corner of the courtyard. Next to the western end of W15 were the remains of an oven (L183). Two openings that led from the courtyard to Rooms 15 and 16 (Fig. 18) were discovered in W15. The doors that were installed in these entrances opened into the rooms. In the southeastern corner of Room 15 (c. 4.4 × 5.5 m) was a small square installation (Fig. 19). Two layers of ash (L196; Fig. 20) that had accumulated above the bedrock floor were exposed in Room 16 (4.5 × 5.5 m). A small square niche (L195; 0.3 × 0.3 m, depth 0.3 m; Fig. 21) was set in the eastern wall (W29), in the northeastern corner of Room 16. Rooms 15 and 16 were connected by an opening in W29 (Fig. 22); the opening was later sealed intentionally. Sections of walls (W27, W28) that belonged to another residential unit (not excavated) could be discerned slightly west of the western residential unit.
The Finds
Pottery. Fragments of various types of pottery vessels were discovered in the excavation, including a sherd of a large bowl with a ledge rim and a combed wavy pattern (Fig. 23:1), which dates from the late Byzantine period; a fragment of an imported African Red Slip bowl (Fig. 23:2) from the late Byzantine and Umayyad periods; bowls with a thickened and slightly everted rim (Fig. 23:3–7) from the end of the Byzantine period – beginning of the Early Islamic period; plain bowls with a thickened in-curved rim (Fig. 23:8–10) and cup-bowls (Fig. 23:11–13), which were popular in the south of the country at the beginning of the Early Islamic period; a small bowl (Fig. 23:14) and cups (Fig. 23:15, 16) of Late Fine Byzantine Ware from the Umayyad and early Abbasid periods; a krater with a thickened and inverted rim and a combed pattern beneath the rim (Fig. 23:17) from the late Byzantine period; casseroles (Fig. 23:18–21) and their lids (Fig. 23:30–35); cooking pots (Fig. 23:22–29), most of which are from the Early Islamic period; and bag-shaped jars, some from the late Byzantine period (Fig. 24:1–3), but mostly from the beginning of the Early Islamic period (Fig. 24:4–14). One of the jars (Fig. 24:15) bore an engraving made prior to firing the vessel. Other types of pottery vessels included amphoriskoi with a tall neck and a thickened, slightly everted rim (Fig. 24:16–18); jugs (Fig. 24:19–21) from the end of the Byzantine period – beginning of the Early Islamic period; a fragment of a neck belonging to a filter jug (Fig. 24:22); two body fragments of Khirbat Mafjar jugs (Fig. 24:23, 24); juglets (Fig. 24:25, 26); flasks, some of which are from the late Byzantine period (Fig. 24:27) and others are from the Umayyad and Abbasid periods (Fig. 24:28–33); and mold-made lamps (Fig. 24:34–37), which were common in the south of the country during the Umayyad period.
The ceramic finds show that the farmstead was used mainly during the Umayyad period. Several of the pottery sherds are from the late Byzantine period and seem to indicate that the site was first settled during that period. The paucity of potsherds from the Abbasid period show that the site was abandoned by that time.
Stone Objects included steatite bowls from the Early Islamic period, some of which are decorated (Fig. 25:1–6); limestone bowls (Fig. 25:7, 8); a shallow limestone bowl (Fig. 25:9); pounding vessels, some of which are made of limestone (Fig. 25:10, 11) and others of basalt (Fig. 25:12); a basalt basin decorated with diagonal stripes (diam. 0.67 m; Fig. 25:13); a limestone surface with a shallow depression (Fig. 25:14); millstones made of beachrock (Fig. 25:15–17) and of basalt (Fig. 25:18); a flint pounder (Fig. 25:19); and a limestone stopper (Fig. 25:20).
The assemblage of stone items reflects the daily domestic activity that was conducted in the various units of the farmstead. The pounding vessels, which were used in food production, were discovered in the courtyards. The pounders may have also served to produce food, or for other activities carried out in the house and the courtyard. The shaped steatite bowls, on the other hand, were used as serving ware.
Metal Objects. Objects made of copper and iron alloy were also discovered at the site. These include a pin (Fig. 26:1), a teaspoon (Fig. 26:2), three rings (Fig. 26:3), a fragment of a bracelet (Fig. 26:4), copper alloy chain links (Fig. 26:5) and an iron nail (Fig. 26:6). All these objects were discovered in Room 3, except for the chain links, which were found in Room 13.
Glass finds. Fragments of glassware that date from the Early Islamic period were discovered (see appendix).