During December 2001 a salvage excavation was conducted in the eastern neighborhood of Bet She’an (Permit No. A-3550*; map ref. NIG 2475/7107; OIG 1975/2107), in the wake of construction. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and sponsored by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by Y. Billig, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), N. Zak (drafting), E. Altmark (metallurgical laboratory), A. Pikovski (pottery drawing), N. Katsnelson (glass) and D. Syon (numismatics).
Prior to the excavation, infrastructure trenches had been dug at the site and inspected by B. Hana, who discerned building remains and potsherd concentrations. Part of a building (Figs. 1, 2), whose walls were constructed from pebbles and small and medium fieldstones (max. size––length 0.55 m, width 0.35 m, height 0.15 m), set atop a layer of light colored and fine-grained sediment, was exposed. The walls were preserved one–two courses (height 0.25–0.35 m). The floors of the building were not discovered. It seems the building was dismantled down to its foundations and its stones were robbed. Mud bricks were apparently used in the structure, based on the numerous brick fragments discovered in the area.
The southwestern corner of the building was formed by the stump of the southern wall (W104; thickness 0.9 m) and the western wall (W103; thickness 0.9 m), which continued north for a distance of 6 m until an entryway. Wall 105, to the north of the entryway, was poorly preserved and its orientation was slightly different than that of W103. It formed a corner with Wall 106, which paralleled Wall 102 (below) that was probably a partition wall.
The eastern wall (W101) was perhaps the exterior wall of the building. Its northern and southern edges, as well as the eastern face were badly damaged by the installation of a large modern refuse pit and therefore its dimensions could not be ascertained.
The building was divided into a southern room (L11) and a northern room or courtyard (L4) by a narrow partition wall (W102; width 0.60–0.65 m).
The walls of the building were covered with a layer of small pebbles, shells, melanopsis mollusks and travertine balls (diam. c. 10 cm), which indicate a flood had occurred after the structure was abandoned.
A large concentration of pottery fragments c. 5 m east of Wall 101, which apparently originated in an ancient refuse pit, was found.
Dating the building to the end of the Byzantine period is based on the potsherds recovered from the fill in the foundations of the walls (L11), including a bowl (Fig. 3:1), a krater (Fig. 3:2), a cooking pot (Fig. 3:3) and a jar (Fig. 3:4). A few fragments of glass vessels dating to the Byzantine period were found, among them a lump of raw glass that may point to a glass industry in the vicinity. Other finds consisted of several tesserae, a few fragments of marble slabs, a large iron nail and two folli, one of Maurice (585/6 CE, mint of Cyzicus; IAA No. 102969) and the other from the sixth century CE (IAA No. 102970). The soil that covered the building remains and the refuse pit adjacent to W101 contained fragments of several pottery vessels, dating to the Roman and Umayyad periods.
The excavation finds confirm what is already known about the neglect of the water-supply resource system and drainage to and from Bet She’an toward the end of the Byzantine period, prior to the Muslim conquest.
The antiquities inspection of development works ascertained that the exposed building was isolated in the area––a leveled region, c. 600 m south of the city. Its location in the center of a large cultivated expanse may imply it was used as a farmhouse.
Three coins were retrieved from surface: one from the Umayyad period (IAA No. 102971) and two from the Mamluk period (IAA Nos. 102972, 102973); it seems the coins reached surface a long time after the building was deserted.