Area B
Roman Period. A room of a building dating to the beginning of the Roman period (3 × 4 m; Figs. 2, 3) was exposed in the southern part of the area; two construction phases were noted. The walls of the room were preserved one–two courses high. The northern (W220) and eastern (W208) walls and fragmented sections of small fieldstones floor (L217; size of stones 0.12 × 0.12–0.15 × 0.15 m) that abutted W208 were preserved from the early phase of the structure. A new floor of medium-sized fieldstones (L209; size of stones 0.30 × 0.30–0.35 × 0.35 m) was installed in the building’s later phase above that of the first phase and new walls (W207, W216, W219) were built. The structure extended north and east, beyond the boundaries of the excavation, and probably to the west as well.
The potsherds from the two phases of the building dated to the first and the beginning of the second centuries CE and included two Roman terra sigillata bowls (Fig. 4:1, 2) that were found below the elevation of Floor 209, jars (Fig. 4:3–5) and a grinding basalt bowl (Fig. 4:6) that were discovered on top of Floor 217.
Two bronze coins were found below Floor 209. One was struck in the mint of Caesarea in 92 CE, during the Roman administration of Judea at the time of Domitian (IAA 120617) and the other was very worn, but nevertheless legible enough and it could be dated to the Early Roman period (first–second centuries CE; IAA 120618).
Although the finds from the beginning of the Roman period were discovered in just one square, they included coins and imported pottery vessels, which pointed to the economic well-being of the population in this period.
Late Byzantine Period. A building that dated to the end of the Byzantine period was exposed
c. 50 m north of the Roman structure (Figs. 5, 6). Two squares were excavated in the first stage and three walls (W203–W205; max. height 0.4 m), whose foundations had only survived, were exposed; the walls were founded on tamped clayey soil. The excavation in the two squares continued until a layer of clay soil, devoid of potsherds, was exposed beneath the level of the walls’ foundations. The excavation continued to the north and east along the lines of the walls in the second stage, to expose their tops. The revealed building (9×13 m) continued east and west, beyond the boundaries of the excavation.
The plan of the building is incomplete; however, one room could be identified in its southern part (3.5 × 4.0 m), and north of it was an elongated room (2.8 × 7.0 m). Parts of other rooms were discovered to their east and west.
The ceramic finds from the complex were meager and included a bowl with a gutter rim (Fig. 4:7) and a krater decorated with a combed pattern (Fig. 4:8).
Area C (Figs. 7, 8)
Four squares were opened c. 240 m south of Area B and two phases of a winepress dating to the Roman period and scant wall remains from this period were exposed.
A plastered pit, possibly a collecting vat (L315; diam. 1.7 m, min. depth 2.2 m), was ascribed to the early phase. Its excavation was incomplete and therefore, it is unclear how one could descend into it. Its northern side was not exposed and it may have had stairs or hewn protrusions on this side.
A treading floor (L305, c. 6 × 6 m), whose eastern part was fragmentary, was ascribed to the second phase of the installation. Walls (W306, W307, W317) built of small fieldstones were excavated north of the treading floor; they delimited two work surfaces paved with a white mosaic (L304a and L304b), in which collecting vats (L310, L316) were hewn. The walls were poorly preserved; only the western part of Wall 307 was preserved (length 1.6 m); however, its eastern part could be reconstructed. A channel (depth 0.23 m) incorporated in W306 (length 4.5 m) crossed it from south to north. Wall 317 separated the two work surfaces and was constructed atop the fill of Pit 315 (Fig. 9).
Collecting Vat 310 was square, plastered and paved with a coarse white mosaic (2×2 m; Fig. 10). Three steps, built next to its northern side, allowed decent into the vat and a large sump (diam. 0.7 m) was incorporated in its floor, close to its southern side. The channel that crossed W306 connected the treading floor (L305) with the collecting vat.
Collecting Vat 316 was trapezoidal (width 1.0–1.2 m, length 2.3 m) and paved with a white mosaic. The excavation of the vat was incomplete and only the northern part of its floor was exposed. A sump (diam. 0.5 m) was cut next to the vat’s western side and in its northern part was a round surface (diam 0.5 m), raised c. 1 cm above the mosaic floor. Since the southern side of the collecting vat was not exposed, steps or protrusions for descending into it can possibly be reconstructed there.
A square was excavated north of W307 and meager remains of a wall (W311, length 1.2 m) that had a stone base in its southern part (see Fig. 7) were exposed.
The ceramic finds recovered from the collecting vats of both phases included a large quantity of potsherds dating to the Early Roman period, including a cooking pot (Fig. 11:1), numerous jars (Fig. 11:2–7), a saqiye jar (Fig. 11:8), jugs (Fig. 11:9, 10) and an early type of a Samaritan lamp (Fig. 11:11). Ashlars were also found in the fill of the vat from the first phase.
The evidence of occupation at Tel Ishqaf during the Early Roman period is consistent with the finds from the excavation that had been carried out along the northeastern fringes of the tell (HA-ESI 120). The relatively large amount of imported vessels seems to indicate that the settlement was prosperous and probably comprised Roman villas.
Together with the residential complexes of the Roman period that were discovered in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the tell, remains of a wine industry from this period were revealed in the southwestern part of the tell. The location of the wine production shifted during the Byzantine period and its remains were discovered in the eastern part of the tell (HA-ESI 120).