In February 2016, a trial excavation was conducted at Kibbutz Maʽabarot (Permit No. A-7641; map ref. 191350/696550; Fig. 1) prior to the expansion of the kibbutz. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by ‘Emek Hefer Regional Council, was directed by Y. Elisha, with the assistance of A. Peretz (field photography), A. Hajian and M. Kunin (surveying), C. Ben-Ari and A. Dagot (GPS), V. Eshed (anthropology), L. Rauchberger (clay tobacco pipes), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), E.J. Stern (pottery; see Appendix), I.E. Delerson (plans), A. Oren (preliminary inspections), Y. Amrani (administration) and P. Gendelman (scientific consultation and guidance). Further assistance was provided by A. ‘Azav and A. Glick (IAA Central District) and D. Asher (Kibbutz Ma‘abarot archives).
The excavation, conducted on the southern of two kurkar hills, comprised four squares (Fig. 2). An Ottoman habitation level was unearthed in the northeast square (L102), where fragments of two tobacco pipes were recovered (Rauchberger, below). A layer of white lime was uncovered in the northwest square (L108; Fig. 3). Stones and modern tiles were found above this layer; human skeletal remains were discovered beneath it (L111). In the central square was a possible shaft tomb (L112, L113; diam. 1.5 m, excavated depth 2 m), which contained human bones—a limb bone and part of the pelvis of an adult individual. Animal bones were found beneath the legs of the deceased. A reservoir was detected hewn in the kurkar rock in the southeast excavation square (L105; 5 × 9 m, 3.8 m deep), where the beginning of a vault that was only partially preserved was visible (Fig. 4). The reservoir was coated with two layers of plaster: a bottom layer that contained potsherds, which were added to improve adherence and impermeability, and an upper layer of gray plaster. The only pottery rim found in the plaster (see Appendix: Fig. 1) is dated to the Byzantine period; it probably dates the reservoir to this period. The reservoir was apparently reused during the Crusader period, but it fell into disuse in the Mamluk period. Upon excavating it, sections of the roof that had recently collapsed were unearthed. Archival material at Kibbutz Ma‘abarot shows the roof of the reservoir before it collapsed (Fig. 5). The reservoir yielded a large quantity of Mamluk pottery (see Appendix).
Clay Tobacco Pipes
Fragments of two clay tobacco pipes (chibouks; Fig. 6) were retrieved from the accumulation (L102). The pipes are covered with a reddish-brown slip and are burnished. These are variations of ‘Lily Pipes’—named thus for their lily-shaped bowls—which date to the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries CE (Rauchberger 2017:250–254, 256–261, Figs. 14.2–14.5, Group 2).
Pipe No. 1 (B1002/1) has a thick shank (diam. 1.8 cm) that widens upward and is decorated with thin, parallel, vertical, serrated rouletted lines with palmette seal impressions at the ends, bordered with a serrated rouletted line at the top and a double incised line at the bottom. This decoration resembles the petals of a flower. On the lower right side of the shank is a circular seal (diam. 0.5 cm) containing lines that are not decipherable but may comprise a production mark denoting the manufacturer’s name. Production marks with names became common in the nineteenth century (de Vincenz 2014:71). The bowl is decorated with palmette seal impressions and horizontal rows of protruding circles.
Pipe No. 2 (B1002/2) has a plain shank (diam. 1.6 cm), whose swollen end is decorated with a motif of serrated rouletted lines. The bowl is ornamented with two parallel horizontal bands of elliptical protrusions bordered by a rouletted decoration identical to the one at the end of the shank. The keel (the base of the pipe bowl) is marked with two serrated rouletted lines that form a V-like shape.
The unearthed Byzantine-period reservoir was probably the basis for the construction of the Madd ed-Deir Crusader citadel documented in the late nineteenth century CE. However, Ottoman activity and construction work by Kibbutz Ma‘abarot appear to have destroyed all that remained of the citadel.
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