In January 2018, a salvage excavation was conducted at the foot of Tel Gamma (Tell Jemma; Permit No. A-8187; map ref. 147370–482/588256–396; Fig. 1), following damage to antiquities caused by a Mekorot water pipeline. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Mekorot Company, was directed by D. Eisenberg-Degen, with the assistance of Y. Alamor (administration) and Y. Shmidov (surveying and drafting), as well as O. Shmueli, S. Ganor, Y. Abadi-Reiss, S. Talis, A. De Groot, P. Nahshoni, V. Lifshits, D. Yegorov and A. Levi Hevroni.
An excavation square yielded remains of two pottery kilns and a refuse pit dating from the Iron Age IIB (eighth century BCE), as well as a wall dating from the Byzantine period (fourth–fifth centuries CE). One kiln was badly damaged and almost destroyed by a Mekorot pipeline trench, and only its north part was preserved (L105; 0.5 × 1.2 m). The excavation unearthed part of the firebox wall. The kiln was probably circular, and its walls were built of mud-bricks (c. 0.25 m thick); its outer face, orange-brown in color, was crumbling; the inner face, which was exposed to the heat of the furnace, was composed of greenish slag that had solidified. The kiln was filled with dark soil and potsherds, some of which were debris from a kiln used to produce jars. A horizontal layer of potsherds visible in the section excavated beside the kiln (L108; Fig. 2) may indicated the elevation of the firing-chamber floor.The second kiln (L109) was circular with walls of uneven thicknesses (0.27–0.75 m); its form was apparently linked to the passage of air through the kiln. The kiln was preserved almost in its entirety and was filled with brown soil and broken bricks.
A pit (L106; diam. 1.2 m; Fig. 3) to the east of the two kilns was dug into the virgin soil and filled with earth, potsherds, slag and animal bones. A cylindrical pillar from a pottery kiln was discovered among the potsherds.
During the Byzantine period, a wall (W1;0.6 m wide) was built above Kiln 109 and Pit 106 and extended to the north of the two kilns. The wall was constructed of kurkar stones, some of which were roughly dressed and rectangular while others were small and rounded; they were preserved to a height of two courses. At the southeast end of the wall stood a stone door jamb that probably belonged to the entrance to a building that extended northward.
The two kilns unearthed belong to a workshop that operated at the site. Kiln 105 was abandoned before Kiln 109 was constructed, and the earlier kiln was turned into a refuse pit. The pottery recovered from the kilns and the refuse pit dates the end of their use to the Iron Age II.
The Byzantine wall probably belongs to the remains of a settlement unearthed in nearby excavations (Nikolsky 2013).
Ben-Shlomo D. and van Beek G.W. eds. 2014. The Smithsonian Institution Excavation at Tell Jemmeh, Israel, 1970–1990 (
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Nahshoni P. 2000. Tell Jamma. HA-ESI 111:107*.