During November 2000 a salvage excavation was conducted in the southeastern area of Karm er-Ras (Permit No. A-3339; Area C map ref. NIG 23164/73938; OIG 18164/23938; Area D map ref. NIG 231625/739390; OIG 181625/239390), in the wake of private construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the landowners S. Abu Daud (Area C) and S. Abu Daud (Area D), was directed by Y. Alexandre (surveying), with the assistance of B. Hana (field supervision), H. Smithline (photography), E. Belashov and E. Berin (drafting), L. Porat (pottery restoration), H. Tahan (pottery drawing) and A. Oshri (animal bone analysis).
Subsequent to the excavation in Areas A and B, it was decided to increase the excavated area for each building plot. Two squares were excavated in Area C and although the same size area was scheduled for Area D, preliminary trenching by mechanical equipment did not expose any architectural remains in the second square, hence only a single one was excavated. The finds in Areas C and D are dated to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.
The excavation partly reached bedrock at a depth of 1.9–2.2 m below surface. Remains from the Hellenistic (Strata VI, V), Early Roman (Stratum IV), Middle Roman (Stratum III) and the Late Roman–Byzantine periods (Strata II–I) were uncovered (Fig. 1). No architectural remains from the Hellenistic period were found, yet potsherds on bedrock and in the fills (L212) were retrieved. The earliest architectural remains were two parallel stone walls (W26, W27) set directly on uneven bedrock. The walls, built of well-dressed nari stones and preserved 0.8–1.0 m high, curved toward each other and seem to be the springing stones for a low vaulted ceiling (Fig. 2). This structure had a packed earth floor, which evened out the bedrock surface (L211) and may have been a cellar for storage, since its original height could not have exceeded 1.3 m. It is dated by potsherds to the Early Roman period (Stratum IV). Walls 26 and 27 were put out of use by a later building complex that consisted of several stone walls (W20, W21) and a floor (L209) in the northern square and other walls (W23, W28, W29) and a floor (L210) in the southern square. Wall 20 incorporated a couple of upstanding rectangular well-dressed nari stones placed between fieldstones in a Phoenician building tradition. Contemporary with this building, a miqwe (ritual bath; L207) seems to have been constructed, enclosed within two stone walls (W22, W25) that abutted the building (Fig. 3). Technically, the miqwe could have been a later addition, but it certainly coexisted with the main building. The miqwe (length c. 1.9 m, including steps, width c. 1.4 m, max. depth 1.68 m) was entered from the west via six steps. Its floor was cut into bedrock and the whole installation was coated with fine white hydraulic plaster that was rounded at the corners and contained no potsherds. The capacity of the miqwe was only c. 4 cu m, indicating that it was a private or family miqwe rather than a public facility. At the time of the excavation the miqwe was full of stones and earth with some mixed potsherds, which could not be relied upon for dating either the building’s period of use or the date it fell out of use. Two basalt grinding stones, recovered from L209 and L215, may suggest this area was used for culinary activities. The pottery assemblage in the building is clearly domestic, including several cooking pots, one of which still contained sheep or goat bones. All the pottery belonged to the Kefar Hananya and Shikhin repertoires and dated to the Middle Roman period (Stratum III).
Within the walls in the southern square was apparently an installation built of very large upstanding stones (L214). Its function is not clear, but it may have been a large storage bin or an element for food-processing, which was probably located in an unroofed courtyard (L204, L210). A chalk-stone vessel fragment was found in this unit. Analysis of the several animal bones from the excavation revealed that the occupants’ diet consisted predominantly of cattle, goat and sheep, whereas pig bones were entirely lacking.
The latest element in the northern square was a single wall of a large, rectangular plastered cistern (L202A), which had cut through and damaged the earlier buildings (W21, W26, W27 and Floor L211), yet was only partially preserved due to agricultural activities that involved the olive tree cultivation in the plot. The plastered cistern was dated to the Byzantine period (Stratum I) on the basis of potsherds incorporated in the plaster.
Building remains from the Hellenistic and Roman periods were exposed in the square (Fig. 4). Two stone walls (W33, W34), forming a corner of a room, were built directly on bedrock (1.7 m below surface). This unit, which had packed earth floors (L311, L312) that evened bedrock surface, was dated to the Hellenistic period (Strata VI–V). Another structure that overlaid the Hellenistic room was built of stone walls (W30–W32) and had packed earth floors (L307–L310). Wall 32 incorporated two upright rectangular stones, in similar style and probably contemporary to W20 in Area C. Limited potsherds from these floors dated this unit to the Early and possibly Middle Roman period (Strata IV, III). The accumulation above this unit contained Byzantine pottery, including Late Roman Red Ware, but no architectural elements.
The limited excavation in Areas C and D revealed architectural remains of domestic buildings, datable to the Hellenistic, Early and Middle Roman and Byzantine periods. The evidence suggests a change of house plans between the Hellenistic and the Roman periods. The presence of a miqwe, a stone vessel fragment and the absence of pig bones support the identity of the Roman-period house residents as Jews. The miqwe may even provide evidence for occupation by kohanim (priests) at the end of the first century CE. No evidence for any destruction level was discerned at the site and the pottery indicates that there may have been a gap in occupation between the Middle Roman and the Byzantine periods.