During routine inspection work east of Horbat Bizqa (map ref. 19788/64333) a stone block with a carved sundial was discovered in secondary use. The inspection, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was carried out by the U. Rothstein of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery. Assisted in documentation C. Amit (photography) and A. Karsik (digital documentation).
The site (c. 5 dunams) lies on a hilltop (220 asl), c. 1.5 km northwest of Kibbutz Sha‘alvim. The ruins comprise structures built of large ashlars and a pool (15 × 15 m); stone fences, agricultural installations and rock-cut tombs can be discerned on a spur extending westward from the hill. The site has never been excavated; however, a cist tomb with a decorated façade was discovered there (Macalister 1909:230–231).
A limestone block with a carved sundial (0.20 × 0.26 × 0.34 m; Fig. 1) was discovered in secondary use in a retaining wall of an agricultural terrace in the northern part of the site. The stone is concave on the obverse, with 11 incised scale marks (Fig. 2). A carved hole in the upper part of the sundial served for securing a rod, whose shadow would have marked the hours (Fig. 3). Medallions were carved on each side of the stone block; on one side the medallion depicts a rosette (Fig. 4), and on the other the design is worn and unclear (Fig. 5). Similar sundials have been uncovered in the past in the Martyrios Monastery (Magen 2015:252–253), at Hyrcania (Mader 1929:123), at Mamshit (Negev 1988:96) and in Be’er Sheba‘ (Abel 1903:430), and were dated to the Byzantine period. It thus seems that the sundial from Horbat Bizqa should also be dated to this period. The sundial was removed from the site for fear it would be robbed.
Abel F.M. 1903. Inscriptions grecques de Bersabée. RB 12:425–430.
Macalister R. 1909. Khurbet Bezka. PEFQSt 41:230–231.
Mader A.E. 1929. Conical Sundial and Icon Inscription from the Kastellion on Khirbet el-Merd in the Wilderness of Juda. JPOS 9:122–134.
Magen Y. 2015. Christians and Christianity V: Monastery of Martyrius (JSP 17). Jerusalem.
Negev A. 1988. The Architecture of Mampsis; Final Report II: The Late Roman and Byzantine Periods (Qedem 32). Jerusalem.