In January 2017, a trial excavation was conducted in a private plot designated for construction in Et-Taiyiba, in Ramot Issakhar in Lower Galilee (Permit No. A-7896; map ref. 242050-56/723196-203), after trial trenches were dug by Y. Shalev. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and partially financed by the property owner M.T. Zuabi, was directed by N. Shatil, with the assistance of R. Liran (surveying), Y. Tzur (district archaeologist), Y. Yaʽaqobi (administration), K. Covello-Paran (scientific guidance), A. Shapiro (GPS), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing), E. Stern (pottery reading), C. Amit (studio photography), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), N. Marom (archaeozoology) and laborers from Nazareth.
One square (25 sq m) was opened, exposing wall remains and tesserae trimmings that were part of an open compound, which dates from the Byantine period but may have continued to be in use in the Umayyad period.
Remains of two field walls were revealed. Wall 104 (length 2.75 m, width 0.8 m, preserved height 0.9 m) was built of a single row of large basalt fieldstones, arranged in one course and aligned north–south. Wall 105 (length 1.85 m, width 0.4 m, preserved height 0.3 m) was built of a single row of smaller basalt stones, also arranged in one course but oriented on an east–west axis. Although it did not adjoin W104, W105 was perpendicular to it and together they apparently formed a corner (Figs. 2–4). The walls were constructed on natural reddish-brown soil overlying bedrock (L102, L103). The stones in the walls were not arranged side-by-side and the walls were not in direct contact with each other. They apparently were not very high and were probably used in an open compound.
A wall (W106; exposed length 0.66 m, width 0.35 m), built of a single row of basalt fieldstones and oriented east–west, was documented 3 m southwest of the excavation square (Figs. 2, 5). It was also probably related to the open compound.
Bones and fragments of glassware and pottery vessels dating from the Byzantine period and possibly from the Umayyad period were found in the habitation level associated with the walls (L101). A concentration of tesserae
trimmings, abutting the eastern side of W105, was exposed in the southeastern part of the square (Figs. 6, 7). The debris heap was composed of small stones, some of them cubes, some rectangular and some that were flakes, made of crystalline limestone typical of the Gesher and Bira Formations (Shaked-Gelband et al. 2012
; Fig. 8). These formations, which cover the layer of indigenous basalt, appear near H
adad, as well as to the north and east, but not in E
aiyiba, and were brought there deliberately (A. Shapiro, pers. comm.). The shapes of the stones, their geological composition and the fact they were concentrated in a heap all suggest that these were tesserae
trimmings, and therefore, the open compound that was excavated was apparently used as a workshop. Judging by the unevenness and size of the tesserae
it seems that they were meant to be incorporated in an industrial mosaic. An industrial mosaic pavement made of “limestone cubes” was documented during a survey of E
aiyiba (Tepper 2012: Site 21).
were most likely prepared in the excavated compound and were embedded in that mosaic floor or other nearby floors and installations that have not yet been discovered.
The ceramic finds from the excavation date from the Byzantine period (mid-fourth to mid-seventh centuries CE); the jars, which comprise c. 85% of the assemblage (Fig. 9:7–9) may date from the Umayyad period (mid-seventh–mid-eighth centuries CE) as well. Almost all the jars are baggy-shaped and made of gray clay with white decorations (Fig. 9:7, 8); they were very common in the northern part of the country (Arnon 2008
:32, Type 812). Other ceramic finds included bowls (Fig. 9:1, 2), one of them a Cypriot Red-Slip vessel (Fig. 9:2; Hayes 1972
: Fig. 80:1, 2), a krater (Fig. 9:3), a casserole with a horizontal handle (Fig. 9:4; Avissar 2014
: Fig. 7:4), a cooking pot (Fig. 9:5; Avissar 2014
: Fig. 6:10) and a casserole lid (Fig. 9:6). Several fragments of pottery vessels dating to earlier periods were recovered but not one sherd was found that postdates the Umayyad period, not even on the surface—evidence that this is a single layer site. The amount of glassware was meager and included two rim fragments and the lower part of the body of a wineglass; vessels such as these are known from the Byzantine and Umayyad periods (Y. Gorin-Rosen, pers. comm.). Several animal bones were found and a few were identified according to species: donkey teeth (from L101, L103), a cow’s digit (from L100), a mandible of a very young pig and a fragment of a pig’s humerus bearing chopping marks (from L101; N. Marom, pers. comm.). The pig bones may indicate a Christian population.
The excavation exposed the remains of an open compound, in which tesserae
were trimmed in the Byzantine period and possibly in the Umayyad period as well. No pottery vessels or other remains that postdate these periods were discovered, despite the proximity to the fortress from the Crusader and Mamluk periods. Settlement remains from the Crusader and Mamluk periods were revealed in previous excavations conducted in the immediate vicinity of the fortress (see, for example Abu Zidan 2011; Dalai-Amos 2016).
The absence of remains from these periods indicates that the Crusader and Mamluk settlement that extended north and east of the fortress had not spread to its south.
Arnon D.Y. 2008. Caesarea Maritima: The Late Periods (700-1291 CE) (BAR Int. S. 1771). Oxford.
Avissar M. 2014. The Ceramic Finds from the Late Roman to the Ottoman Periods at Bet She’an (Youth Hostel). ʽAtiqot 77 (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 129*–130*).
Gal Z. 1991. Map of Gazit (46). (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem.
Hayes J.W. 1972. Late Roman Pottery. London.
Mokary A. 2017. Et-Taiyiba, Horbat Hadad. HA-ESI 129.
Shaked-Gelband D., Edelman-Furstenberg Y., Sandler A., Zilberman E., Stein M. and
Tepper Y. and Covello-Paran K. 2012. Et-Taiyiba. HA-ESI 124.
Tzori N. 1977. The Land of Issachar: An Archaeological Survey of the Gilbo‘a Hillside, the Jezreel Valley and the Lower Eastern Galilee. Jerusalem (Hebrew).