The Early Roman Period
Remains of a large building, survived by several wall sections and founded on hamra soil, were discovered in the northern part of the excavation area (Fig. 1; Sqs C18, C19). An entrance in one of the walls had a threshold and a doorjamb (W133; Fig. 2). A tamped chalk floor (thickness 5–7 cm; L278) abutted the interior of the threshold from the south. The accumulation that covered the floor and the threshold contained fragments of pottery and glass vessels from the Early Roman period (first century CE). A few potsherds that dated to the first century CE were found in the shallow fill below the floor and above the hamra soil. A collapse of masonry stones, limestone column drums (Fig. 3) and fragments of pottery and glass vessels from the first century CE overlaid two of the walls. These were probably the remains of a building with a peristyle courtyard that was accessed via the entrance in the northern side. An ashlar wall (W131) that was preserved four courses high (1.2 m) was built north of the entrance in a later phase. Numerous potsherds from the first century CE were retrieved from the fill between the wall and the entrance, down to the level of hamra soil.
An ashlar-built wall (W105), aligned north–south, was discovered in the southern part of the excavation area. To its east was an elliptical pit (1.3 × 1.8 m; L252), dug 0.7 m into the hamra soil. The meager ceramic finds indicated a date in the Early Roman period for these remains.
The Byzantine Period
Remains from this period were discovered throughout the excavation area. The western part of a plastered pool (L250) was in the northernmost square. Its western wall (W122) was founded directly above the entrance doorjamb of the building from the Early Roman period. The wall, built of ashlar stones, was lined with a surface of cement and small fieldstones, which was coated with white plaster and reinforced with body sherds of ribbed jars from the Byzantine period. The pool’s northern wall (W123) was adjoined by a plastered face of cement and small fieldstones. A plain white mosaic was preserved on top of the western wall and abutted the edge of the pool from the south or west. Inside the pool and in the fills that abutted it and covered the Early Roman-period layer, fragments of pottery and glass vessels from the Byzantine period were discovered, as well as two coins that dated to the fifth century CE. The pool was probably used in a winepress or some other industrial installation.
A refuse pit (c. 4 × 15 m, 0.9 m deep) that extended across two squares, through the center of the excavation area, was discovered. The finds recovered from the pit included numerous fragments of pottery and glass vessels, lumps of raw glass, basalt vessels, pieces of roof tiles and a white mosaic floor, a few metal objects from the sixth–seventh centuries CE, as well as a coin that dated to the reign of Emperor Arcadius (395–408 CE). Walls and floors penetrated into the refuse pit along its southern edge. The latest was an ashlar-built wall (W108), abutted by a floor of ashlar pavers that was overlaid with fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. Potsherds below the floor were dated to the seventh century CE, at whose end the floor was probably constructed. The large ashlar-built walls exposed in the square to the south probably belonged to this building. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period were found between the walls.
The most impressive remain from the period was the western part of a large ashlar-built structure, to the south of the remains described above, which continued in use until the Crusader period. The building phase from the Byzantine period included three walls (W118, W130, W139) and a floor (L248; Fig. 4). Wall 118 had an interior face of large ashlar stones and an exterior face of small fieldstones. Wall 139 was built of two ashlar-stone rows. The ashlar-stone floor probably overlaid an earlier floor of small fieldstones, set on hamra soil. Remains of another floor were discerned below a later floor exposed to the west of the building (below). Fragments of pottery and glass vessels, as well as a coin from the Byzantine period, were found next to the foundations of the building’s northern wall.
Wall stumps and sections of flagstone floors that abutted the walls, to the south of the building, were discovered. Another floor segment was discerned in the eastern section of the square. Fragments of pottery and glass vessels on the floor and next to the walls date their construction to the end of the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE). The western half of a tabun, (L224) which was dug into the hamra soil, was discovered south of these remains. The potsherds in and around the tabun dated it to the end of the Byzantine period or the beginning of the Early Islamic period (seventh century CE).
The Early Islamic Period
A few remains were discovered in the southern part of the excavation area. The large building underwent several changes. The floor, which was mostly robbed of its stones, was renovated with thin flagstones (L248) and the southern wall was rebuilt (W100; height 1.5 m) in place of the original, robbed wall. At this stage, or during a later phase, an additional course to the western wall and three interior ashlar-built pilasters, which were probably in secondary use and supported arches, were added (see Fig. 4). Two new entrances, whose thresholds were preserved, were installed between the pilasters at the level of the wall’s second course. The ceramic finds, discovered in several sections below Floor 248, were dated to the Late Abbasid or Fatimid period (tenth–eleventh centuries CE). A floor (L280) of large irregular flagstones was discovered to the west of the building. A floor (L206; Fig. 5) of irregular flagstones and ashlars in secondary use was south of the building and abutted the building’s eastern wall and another wall that was exposed only in the eastern section of the square. At the northeastern end of this floor was a round tabun (L236) and in the collapse on the floor were four gold dinars and a silver dirham from the second half of the eighth century and first half of the ninth century CE. The latest coin dated to the time of Caliph Harun al-Rashid (804–805 CE; Fig. 6). Floor 206 abutted walls in the south whose foundations were preserved a single course high (W111, W113). These walls, which were founded on hamra soil, were built of large ashlars and stone slabs. Based on the latest pottery fragments in the foundations of the walls, their construction can be dated to the Abbasid period. The potsherds on this section of the Floor 206 supported the chronology of the building’s last phase of use to the Abbasid period (ninth century, and at the very latest the beginning of the tenth century CE).
The Crusader PeriodFinds were discovered only within the large building whose original function had changed in this period. Its interior was partitioned by three thin walls built of stone slabs, ashlar stones in secondary use and fieldstones (W103, W104, W124). A face of white plaster and small fieldstones was apparently added to the interior of W100 and W130. The potsherds in the wall collapse dated the last phase of the building’s use to the Crusader period.