In May 2005, a salvage excavation was carried out at Khirbat Umm et-Tut near Nahal Daliya (Permit No. A-4452; map ref. 19863–900/72218) ahead of the installation of an underground electric cable. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Israel Electric Corporation, was directed by A. Oshri (field photography), with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), T. Sagiv (studio photography) and R. Vinitsky (metallurgical laboratory).
Kh. Umm et-Tut (c. 40 dunams) is located on a road that once branched off from the Via Maris (Aharoni 1987:35–41), the main part of which passed through Wadi ‘Ara. Highway 70 between el-Fureidis and Yoqne‘am cuts the northern edges of the site. The main part of the site is south of the highway; the area of the current excavation lies north of the highway. The area was apparently damaged in the past, presumably by the paving of a British Mandate-era road whose remains were removed prior to the excavation. Near the site is an overpass that creosses Nahal Daliya. The ruin is situated near the confluence of Nahal Daliya and Nahal Tut. The water sources of the settlement consisted of a well on the western edge of the site, another artesian well, c. 300 m to the west, and perhaps the streams that flow very close to the site. The natural landscape is a valley between moderate hills covered with Mediterranean woodlands. The site had been excavated in the past (Kletter 1999; Avner 2007), revealing structures and installations from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods.
Four strata (IV–I) were identified in the current excavation (c. 100 sq m; Fig. 1). Strata IV and III dated to the Byzantine period and revealed agricultural installations. They overlaid a layer of stream pebbles, apparently the Nahal Daliya flood plain, which floods seasonally. Above these, strata II and I revealed dwellings from the Early Islamic period. Mamluk sherds, devoid of architectural context, were found on the surface.
Stratum IV. A limestone basin was found embedded in a layer of stream pebbles (diam. 0.3–0.6 m, depth c. 1 m). In the side of the basin, near the bottom was a drilled hole (diam. c. 5 cm; Fig. 2). Fieldstone paving (L30) abutted the rim of the basin. Byzantine pottery was found on the fieldstone surface.
Stratum III. Above the level of the basin, the plastered wall was found (W1; exposed length c. 4 m). At the bottom of the wall, the plaster was thicker and created an incline. The plaster is hydraulic, and it may be concluded that the wall belonged to a pool (L9). In the fill in the pool numerous sherds were found, including casseroles (Fig. 3:3, 4), which were dated to the Byzantine period. Northwest of Pool 9 was another pool (L26), with a white mosaic floor. Two of its walls (W3, W4; height 0.5 m), built of ashlars, survived to a height of two courses. The walls were coated inside and out with gray plaster. At some stage, the floor of the pool was renovated, and a white mosaic floor was laid c. 7 cm higher than the level of the previous floor. This was apparently a sedimentation pool through which water passed on the way to Pool 9. A channel led to Pool 26 (L23, L24; width c. 0.25 m, depth c. 0.2 m), built of segments of stone shaped like a gutter. The walls of the channel were built of dressed stones, and it was covered with stone slabs. No remains of plaster or other sealant could be found.
Stratum II. In this stratum, two rows of dressed stone with gray bonding material were added to Wall 1 from Stratum III. Abutting W1 was another wall (W2), build of one row of dressed stones. The walls delimited a hall (L21, L22; 3 × 10 m), meticulously paved with dressed stone. On the floor of the hall (L22) were a bowl (Fig. 4:1) and a buff oil lamp (Fig. 4:5), both dated to the Umayyad period. East of W2 and south of W1 was another space (L6), without any flooring, perhaps a courtyard. A black, glazed handmade bowl (Fig. 4:2) from the Umayyad period was found in the accumulation in this space.
Stratum I. This stratum revealed two construction phases. In the first phase an ashlar wall (W5) was built on the hall’s floor, subdividing the hall into two rooms. Additional walls (W7, W8, W11), built of dressed stones, were added, as well as stone floors (L18, L19, L25), clearly of poorer quality than the floor of the hall of Stratum II. Jug fragments from the Abbasid period were found on the floors (Fig. 5:6, 8), along with earlier sherds—casseroles (Fig. 3:1, 5) and jars (Fig. 3:7, 10–13, 16) from the Byzantine period and a jar (Fig. 4:4) from the Umayyad period.
In a second phase, after an ashen fill was laid (max. thickness 7 cm), two column drums and two large stones were set on Floors 18, 19 and 22 (Fig. 6); it is difficult to determine their use due to the poor preservation of this phase. In the accumulation above the floors (L7, L15–L17; not shown on the plan) were a fragment of an Umayyad-period jar (Fig. 4:3), as well as bowls (Fig. 5:1–3) and a jug (Fig. 5:7) from the Abbasid period. A zoomorphic vessel, apparently depicting a donkey or a horse (Fig. 7:1), was also found. A similar vessel was found in Bet She’an, where it was dated to the Umayyad period (Tsafrir and Forester 1994). Two bone objects were also unearthed: a decorated inlay (Fig. 7:2), perhaps for a wooden box, resembling one found in Bet She’an whose date is unclear (Avshalom-Gorni 2004:105), and a spatula (Fig. 7:3).
The remains of two square installations (L12, L13; c. 1.2 × 1.2 m, depth c. 1 m; Fig. 8, 9) were also unearthed. They were built of dressed stones set on their narrow side. These installations should probably be attributed to Stratum I, but it is unclear to which phase of the stratum they should be associated. The fill in Installation 13 contained fragments of jars from the Byzantine period (e.g., Fig. 3:9).
In the Byzantine period, the area was occupied by workshops, as attested by the numerous installations and jars dating from this period. In Stratum IV, these included a sunken basin where extraction or crushing activity was carried out. An installation that either contained water or used water in some way was added in Stratum III. It seems that Stratum II, with its high-quality construction, dates from the Umayyad period, while Stratum I dates from the Abbasid period. In Stratum II, which apparently dates from the Umayyad period, a structure, perhaps public in nature, was built on the site. In Stratum I, dating from the Abbasid period, the structure was turned into a dwelling. Similar findings were discovered in the excavations of Avner (2007) and Kletter (1999) at the site.
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Avner R. 2007. Building remains and an Installation from the Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods at Nahal Daliya (Umm Tut). ‘Atiqot 57:51*–70* (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 168–170).
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