During May–June 2001 a second season of excavation was conducted at ‘En Qobi (‘Ein el Qabu; Permit No. A-3404*; map ref. NIG 2112/6259; OIG 1612/1259) in the wake of tourism development. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and sponsored by the JNF, was directed by Y. Billig, with the assistance of A. Ben-Nun (area supervision), V. Esmann, and V. Pirsky (surveying) and T. Sagiv (photography), and A. Berman (numismatics).
Area A. About 40 m east of the spring, remains of a large building (11.6 × 16.0 m; wall thickness 1.9 m; Fig. 1) were observed on surface. The British Survey identified the building as a church from the Crusader period (SWP III:100), whereas other scholars suggested it was from the Byzantine period. Terraces that were built within the building and upon the outer walls were dismantled during the excavation. The exterior face of the northern wall was constructed from large ashlars (height 0.27–0.55 m) and its interior face (max. preserved height 5.3 m; Fig. 2) consisted of undressed stones (0.24–0.37 m) that were decorated with fresco. An arch was noted in the western part of the wall and a window––in its eastern part, narrow on its exterior side and widening toward the interior side. The entrance to the building (width 1.66 m) was in the western wall. A collapse of ashlar stones was discerned in the center of the eastern wall, where the apse was likely to emerge. The stones apparently derived from the eastern wall that possibly collapsed into the crypt. The finds included potsherds, mainly dating to the Byzantine period, as well as fragments of thin roof tiles, broken pieces of marble and many white and colored mosaic tesserae. Judging by the finds, the building should be dated to the Byzantine period. However, the arch in the northern wall was probably one of a series of cruciform arches intended for the typical Crusader roofing. Accordingly, it appears that the building was used in both the Byzantine and the Crusader periods. Alongside the eastern wall of the building a coin from the nineteenth century was found.
Area B. The northern and western walls (width 2 m; max. preserved height 2.4 m) of a large structure (8.5 × 12.7 m), oriented north–south, were observed above surface, c. 40 m to the west of the spring. The southern and eastern walls were partially exposed. All the walls were constructed from large fieldstones (height 0.27–0.45 m; length 0.30–0.68 m; depth up to 0.7 m). Dressed stones were integrated within the corners of the building. Most of the potsherds discovered on the ground within and around the building dated to the Mamluk period, with a lesser part dating to the Byzantine period.
Area C. A subterranean storage pool, which was part of the internal issuing of the spring, was located c. 25–35 m southwest of the exterior issuing point of the spring. The pool (length 5.5–6.0 m, width 4.6–5.3 m, height 5–6 m; Fig. 3) had a concrete ceiling from the British Mandate era that replaced an earlier arched ceiling. The ceiling was exposed and two excavation squares were opened to the east and north of the pool, aiming to reveal and understand the earlier sections of the water system. A covered shaft was detected in the northern square. The shaft enabled the descent into the tunnel that led from the pool to the spring. Above surface and within the two excavation squares was a large amount of potsherds, dating mainly to the Byzantine and Mamluk periods. The finds also included many bricks, broken fragments of ceramic bathhouse pipes (tubuli) and mosaic tesserae that indicated the presence of a nearby bathhouse. Two coins were discovered on surface, one is a Zanjid coin of al-‘Adil Nur al-Din Mahmud (1146–1174 CE; IAA 92795) and the other coin is from the Ottoman period (nineteenth century CE).
Area D. Several channels and water installations were cleared and documented between the spring and a Muslim maqam, 10 m to its south. The installations belonged to the last stage of the spring’s use by the inhabitants of the Qabu village, in the days of the British Mandate. The base of a pressing installation from an oil press was discovered next to the external storage pool.