In August 2017, a salvage excavation was conducted in Tiberias (Permit No. A-8081; map ref. 250660–70/743561–640; Fig. 1) prior to the construction of a parking lot. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Kleiner, with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), M. Peleg (photography and photogrammetric documentation), W. Atrash (archaeological guidance), J. Gosker (trial trenches) and a team of laborers from Shefar‘am.
The excavation was conducted in an open plot after antiquities were unearthed in trial trenches to the east of the central bus station and near Ottoman-period buildings built of basalt blocks (Fig. 2); several of the buildings are slated for conservation and restoration. Two excavation squares were opened after the area was exposed, revealing sections of an Ottoman-period plaster floor overlying an alluvium deposit containing potsherds from the Roman–Ottoman periods.
The excavation area lies beyond the boundaries of the ancient city, within its rural-agricultural hinterland. Several previous excavations carried out nearby yielded evidence of repeated flooding. A salvage excavation conducted in 2015 on Ha-Shilo’ah Street, c. 80 m south of the present excavation, yielded architectural remains, some from the mid-Roman period and most from the Abbasid period. The remains were cut through when a flood-control channel was constructed during the British Mandate (Dalali-Amos and Hanna 2017).Three excavation seasons in the municipal park exposed evidence of a residential quarter that was built in the Abbasid period on a layer of alluvium containing pebbles and pottery from the Late Roman period in a previously uninhabited area (Hartal 2008; Hartal 2013b). In the tenth century CE, its western part was damaged by severe flooding. The east part of the quarter continued to be occupied, but two long, broad walls were constructed to its west to protect it from further flooding; the walls were built partly over the ruins of the buildings damaged by the flood (Hartal 2013b). An additional protective wall from the Abbasid period was exposed in an excavation conducted north of the municipal park. The walls were designed to divert the floodwater into a central channel that passed through the neighborhood and prevent stones from being washed into the city. Under the British Mandate, a concrete drainage system was built north and west of the municipal park after a severe flood in 1934 caused extensive destruction and the loss of human lives (Biger and Schiller 1988:80). The channel cut into the Abbasid wall that was exposed to the north of the municipal park (Hartal 2013a).
The excavation unearthed a floor bedding of tamped chalk mixed with pottery and pebbles (L101, L104; 6 × 7 m; Fig. 3). The floor was built over a thick layer of alluvial soil, pebbles and mixed potsherds from all of Tiberias’s occupation periods, from the Roman through the Ottoman periods. Based on the most recent finds on and beneath the floor, it probably dates from the late Ottoman period. Due to its poor state of preservation, it is difficult to determine its purpose.
The finds near the floor included a copper ring held in a single strand of wire tied up in a knot (Fig. 4). Simple rings of this type are known from the Roman to the late Ottoman periods.
The excavation finds indicate that a building stood in the area in the recent past that was badly damaged, possibly in the severe floods of 1934, and eventually demolished. The thick layer of alluvium beneath the floor bedding, which contained potsherds from all periods, was probably washed there by the numerous flooding events Tiberias experienced.