During November 2001 a trial excavation was conducted at the site of Nes Ziyyona
(Permit No. A-3539*; map ref. NIG 180255-605/648665-860; OIG 130255–605/148665–860) in the wake of infrastructure work carried out by the municipality. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by E. Kogan-Zehavi, assisted by H. Lavi (administration), A. Hajian and V. Pirsky (surveying) and C. Hersch (pottery drawing).
The site is located at the western end of the city, south of Ha-Shiriyon Street. A backhoe was used to dig probe trenches in order to define the boundaries of the area where the archaeological remains were discovered. In the past, surveys and excavations were conducted in several areas of the city, revealing antiquities that dated to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, the twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE and the Ottoman period (ESI 18:73–76; 19:110*; HA-ESI 109:97*).
Seven half squares were opened. Remains that dated to the period of the British Mandate, among them a pool and a well (see Sq 4 below) were discovered in five of them. The pool was probably built in the Ottoman period, as potsherds from that time were discerned on surface. Building remains from the Byzantine period in two half squares (Sq 4) and from the Early Islamic period (Sq 2) were discovered.
Square 2 was opened in the northern part of the area, revealing a section of a wall foundation, oriented north–south (W2; length 4 m; width 0.5 m) and built of small irregular fieldstones bonded with gray plaster (Fig. 1). Remains of a gray plaster floor (L112) were exposed in a small section east of W2, which was dated to the Early Islamic period, based on the potsherds discovered amongst its stones (Fig. 2:4, 7, 8).
Square 4. Some 30 m south of Sq 2, a modern conduit was exposed below surface, conveying water from the modern pool and well to orchards planted there in the past. The rim of a Gaza-type jar and a jug rim (Fig. 2:5, 6) were found inside the conduit (L101). Two walls that formed the corner of a building (W3, W4; Fig. 3) were uncovered at a depth of 0.5 m below the conduit. Wall 4 (width 0.6 m, length 1.5 m) consisted of an exterior row of dressed limestone and an interior row of roughly hewn stones; it was preserved a single course high. Most of W3 was inside the section. It was preserved two courses high, the bottom one was composed of fieldstones and served as a foundation. An occupation level was exposed west of W4. It consisted of tamped earth (L110), overlain with jar fragments (Fig. 2:1–3) that dated to the Byzantine period.
Backhoe probe trenches to the northeast of the walls revealed a plastered conduit and floor; however, due to the limited excavation area it was impossible to relate them to the building.
This excavation shows that during the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods a settlement also existed in the western part of Nes Ziyyona.