Late Roman Period
Area E2. A complex winepress consisting of two treading floors, two collecting vats and two settling vats was exposed (Fig. 2). All of the elements in the winepress were treated with plaster. No finds were discovered in the installation, but based on its construction method and the gray plaster applied to it, the winepress can be dated to the Late Roman period.
Area I yielded an activity area paved with small fieldstones and delimited by walls.
Area J. Two occupation phases were identified. The early phase included an oven (diam. c. 2.8 m) that was dug in the ground. Although no finds were discovered in it, the oven probably dates from the Late Roman period. Remains of a hypocaust belonging to a bathhouse are ascribed to the late phase (Fig. 3). To the west of the hypocaust were the remains of a structure: walls consisting of a stone foundation and an upper part built of mud-bricks, and tamped-earth floors; mud-bricks that had fallen from the walls were discovered on the floor. The date of the building and its relation to the bathhouse are unclear.
Area J2 yielded building remains, in which two phases (IIIb, IIIa) were identified. The early phase (IIIb) included a large collecting installation built of gray concrete that was cast on fieldstones. The collecting installation was evidently part of a larger installation that was used in the wine industry at the site. West of the installation were the poorly preserved remains of a building that included at least two rooms. Its walls comprised an outer face of large dressed stones and an inner face of small fieldstones; its floors did not survive. Ash and fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Late Roman period were exposed directly above the walls of the building.
The late phase (IIIa) comprises several walls. Large chunks of concrete that were dismantled from the collecting installation of the early phase were incorporated in the walls. In addition, several stone-paved surfaces (Fig. 4) were discovered. The pavements in the eastern and western parts of the excavation area were built of flagstones, whereas in the central part of the area the pavement was made of small stones with plaster or cement in between. It seems that these stone surfaces served as activity areas; the different pavements may be indicative of a variety of activities that were conducted on these surfaces.
Area D yielded architectural remains, in which two construction phases were identified. Two pools for collecting water—one in the east and the other in the west—were ascribed to the early phase. They were apparently built at the same time (Fig. 5). All that survived of the eastern pool was its floor, which was built of small fieldstones and was plastered. The floor of the pool had been repaired and reinforced while in use. The walls of the pool were dismantled in antiquity. It seems that the eastern pool was built and went out of use during the Byzantine period. An installation (0.8 × 1.7 m) that was built of two rows of kurkar was discovered in the pool’s northwestern corner; this installation was constructed prior to the pool, but it could not be dated.
The western pool was square. Its walls were constructed of rubble (dedbesh), and its floor was made of small fieldstones; the walls and the floor were treated with plaster. Stone steps built inside the pool led down to its floor. No remains of a roof were found; the pool had either a roof made of some light material that did not preserved or no roofing at all. The pool was filled with fragments of pottery vessels from the Late Byzantine period, animal bones, fragments of glassware and several metal nails. The ceramic finds from the pool indicate that it was abandoned at the end of the Byzantine period.
The foundations of two Late Byzantine-period structures were ascribed to the late phase. They were discovered several centimeters below the surface and were poorly preserved.
Area E yielded architectural remains, in which two phases were discerned. Remains of a building and an adjacent outdoor surface of an activity area are ascribed to the early phase. A floor made of mud-brick fragments was discovered in the building. The lower part of a potter’s wheel was found just east of the building. In addition, lumps of soil that had been fused by exposure to heat were discovered throughout the area, suggesting that a pottery kiln was situated nearby.
Remains of an elongated building (over 20 m long) constructed along an east–west axis were ascribed to the late phase. The building comprised a series of rooms which did not survive. West of the building were a wall stump and a stone-paved surface with incorporated architectural elements in secondary use. Pottery sherds and coins from the Late Byzantine period were found on the occupation levels associated with the building.
Area E2 yielded architectural remains, in which three construction phases were identified (IIc–IIa). Two walls built on a layer of pottery sherds were ascribed to the early phase (IIc). The middle phase (IIb) comprised remains of a large structure with at least ten rooms. It is clearly apparent that the building extended northward and southward, beyond the limits of the excavation. Two collecting vats belonging to a winepress were attributed to the latest phase (IIa); none of the other components of the winepress were preserved. The two collecting vats were built in two sub-phases within the large Phase IIb building.
Three pools built along a north–south axis and a channel that fed them were also discovered in this area (Fig. 6); only the northern pool was treated with hydraulic plaster. The channel passed along the surface west of the northern pool, and it probably continued to the east, where it passed between the northern and the middle pools. No pipes or openings connecting the three pools were discovered. The pools may have been used in the pottery industry, possibly for levigating clay. The three pools were found filled with alluvium and pottery sherds. It is unclear whether the pools should be ascribed to Phase IIa or IIb.
Area F yielded several refuse pits that contained mainly pottery sherds from the Byzantine period.
Area J. Wall remains were exposed above the remains of the Late Roman-period hypocaust; they were close to the surface and were therefore poorly preserved. In addition, two refuse pits were discovered. One of the pits was full with ash, lumps of earth that had been fused by heat wasters and pottery workshop debris. The second pit was rectangular, and it was full with sherds and fired mud-bricks. These remains probably date to the latest phase (IIa) in the area.
Area J2 yielded remains of a building and an open activity area, which correspond to Phase IIb in Area E2. Partition walls and installations were erected in the building during the later phase (IIa; see Fig. 4). The building extended south and east, beyond the excavation area.
Area B yielded a plastered rectangular installation (width 1 m; Fig. 7), probably a cesspit which was connected to the sewer system of es-Sawafir el-Gharbiya, a village located c. 400 m north of the excavation. Wastewater was probably conveyed into the pit through a small opening in the installation’s northern wall. It seems that the opening was intentionally blocked in a later phase, at the end of the Ottoman period. Inside the installation were pottery vessels and sherds from the Byzantine period; sherds and a hand grenade from the Ottoman period; a concrete ring (inner diam. 0.4 m), probably part of a sewer system; iron pieces; and automobile parts. Judging by these finds, it is obvious that the installation was clean and accessible at the end of the Ottoman period.
Area C. Installations and remains of a building that belonged to two phases of the end Ottoman period were discovered from the surface level down to a depth of c. 0.25 m. Many installations were ascribed to the early phase, including drying and storage installations and a silo (Fig. 8). These installations were used in the processing and storage of agricultural produce, and it seems that they were concentrated in an open area. Pottery sherds, the earliest of which dates to the Mamluk period and the latest to the Late Ottoman period, were found in the silo. Remains of a large building (at least 10 × 18 m) that was divided into two wings, northern and southern, were ascribed to the late phase. Only the rooms in the southern wing were unearthed. The finds from the building include pottery sherds, pieces of glass and animal bones. These finds date the structure to the end of the Ottoman period.
Area G yielded Ottoman-period settlement remains, which include installations and tamped-earth surfaces that served as activity areas.
Remains belonging to three main periods were revealed in the excavation. The remains from the Late Roman period were damaged when they were dismantled in antiquity. They include installations and architectural remains. The activity that occurred at the site at this time evidently extended into the area south of Highway 3. The remains from the Byzantine period were damaged during the paving of Highway 3. Most of the remains were of an industrial nature, and it seems that there was a pottery workshop situated nearby. During this period, several changes took place at the site, as installations went out of use and new ones were built to replace them. These remains apparently belonged to an industrial area that was situated on the fringe of a Byzantine-period settlement. The remains from the Ottoman period were mainly installations that were located on the outskirts of es-Sawafir el-Gharbiya and es-Sawafir esh-Sharqiya. Several pottery sherds dating to the Mamluk period were discovered in the excavation, indicating that some form of activity occurred at the site at that time.