During August–September 2000 a salvage excavation was conducted west of Horbat Biz‘a (Permit No. A-3283; map ref. NIG 2019/7051–4; OIG 1519/2051–4), after ancient architectural elements were discovered during the excavation of a sounding, prior to laying an underground electric cable. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Electric Company, was directed by U. ‘Ad, with the assistance of Y. Dangor (administration), T. Sagiv (photography), A. Hajian and V. Essman (surveying) and antiquities inspectors of the Haifa district.
Fourteen squares (10 are 3 × 5 m) in three areas (A–C) were opened along the sounding (c. 230 m), at the lower western side of Horbat Biz‘a, west of Highway 581, on the border of the alluvium soil in the valley. Over the years the entire excavation area was severely damaged by infrastructure and agricultural works. The excavation revealed buildings, work surfaces, a plastered installation and refuse pit, which contained pottery and industrial glass debris, dating from the Early Roman to the end of the Byzantine–beginning of the Umayyad periods.
Area A. The eastern side of a wall or a stone floor, composed of medium-sized fieldstones and founded on virgin soil, was discovered over a distance of 3 m in the western side of the sounding. A wall was built above it in the Roman period. A light colored chalk and stone floor abutted the wall from the north. A light tamped level (more than 20 m long) of crushed chalk and small stones, partially lined with a thin plaster layer, covered the wall and the floor in the sixth century CE.
Part of a building that consisted of two or three phases was discovered in the southern part of the area (Fig. 1). The first phase, dating to the Early Roman period, included the southern wall (W10; Fig. 2) which was built of meticulously dressed ashlar stones and preserved two courses high. The southern side of the wall adjoined a light colored floor level (L127; thickness 10–15 cm) that comprised crushed chalk with small stones and pottery fragments. A meager wall (W14) was built in the second phase (the fourth century CE) of medium-sized fieldstones and abutted W10 from the south. Wall 14 served as a retaining wall for a surface (L130) of small and medium-sized fieldstones that abutted it from the west. Most of the building from the first phase was dismantled in the last phase, dating to the later part of the Byzantine period. New walls (W11–W13) were built with a slightly different orientation and poorer quality compared to W10, which they abutted. The wall foundations were placed on a bedding of medium-sized fieldstones, with a beaten-soil fill in-between. Light colored floors of tamped crushed chalk mixed with small stones (Loci 103, 107, 120) abutted the walls. Wall 16, which was exposed in the south, probably belonged to this phase as well.
Area B. Some 40 m south of Area A, a light colored tamped level that consisted of crushed chalk and small stones, was exposed for a distance of 6.5 m. It was delimited from the north and south by walls. The northern wall was built of medium-sized fieldstones and the southern wall––of roughly hewn large stones with small and medium fieldstones in-between. Another wall, 15 m to the south, was built of large roughly hewn stones and was abutted from the south by a tamped light colored level of crushed chalk mixed with small stones. Both floors dated to the fourth century CE.
Area C. A rectangular rock-hewn installation (2.3 × 3.2 m; Figs. 3, 4) was discovered 40 m south of Area B. It was coated with thick hydraulic plaster, which contained fragments of pottery vessels. The installation was composed of a square surface (L304; 1.8 × 1.8 m) in the north, slightly inclined toward the east and a rectangular vat (L308; 0.85 × 1.80 m, 0.9 m deep) in the south. The accumulations on the surface and in the vat yielded numerous fragments of pottery vessels (Fig. 5), industrial glass debris and fragments of glass vessels, several animal bones and two coins. A floor that was partly composed of tamped crushed chalk and partly of leveled bedrock abutted the installation from the north. Pits and fissures in the bedrock were filled with chalk, small stones and fragments of pottery vessels.
The installation, whose function is unclear, dated to the third–fourth centuries CE. After it went out of use, it served as a refuse pit in the sixth and seventh centuries CE. A large waste pit was discovered south of the installation. Its exact size is unknown (more than 5 m). It was filled with fragments of pottery and glass vessels and glass industrial waste, dating to the third–fourth and sixth–seventh centuries CE.
It seems that this was an industrial zone used by the residents of Horbat Biz‘a during the Roman and Byzantine periods and possibly also at the beginning of the Early Islamic period.