From November 2000 to January 2001 a salvage excavation was conducted at Tirat Karmel (Permit No. A-3525*; map ref. NIG 19850/74075; OIG 14850/24075; HA-ESI 109:27*–29*), prior to preparing the area for construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Housing, was directed by O. Segal, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), V. Essman, V. Pirsky and T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography) and M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (pottery drawing).
The excavation was conducted along the northern bank of Nahal Galim, c. 300 m east of Tirat Karmel. Two areas, 50 m apart, were opened. Twenty-three excavation squares were opened in Area A and consisted of an aqueduct that contained a ceramic-pipe, together with the remains of two other aqueducts. The eastern continuation of the aqueduct’s ceramic pipe was exposed in two additional squares in Area B, which was east of Area A and was cleared by a backhoe down to bedrock surface, wherein quarries and tombs were revealed. The excavation of this area was not completed due to the discovery of tombs.
Aqueducts (Areas A, B; Figs. 1, 7)
The three aqueducts conveyed water from the spring at ‘En Qedem in the east to the village of Tira in the west. The earliest one (Aqueduct 190) was a built and plastered aqueduct. Later, an aqueduct built of stone sections (Aqueduct 185) was installed. The latest aqueduct (Aqueduct 180) consisted of two rows of stone with a ceramic pipe set between them.
Aqueduct 190 (max. exposed length 30 m) ran in a general east–west direction. It was built of fieldstones and coated with white plaster. Its northern side had survived (max. height c. 0.5 m; Fig. 2: Section 2-2), whereas the southern side was destroyed, possibly during the construction of Aqueduct 185 that surmounted it (Fig. 2: Section 4-4). A small plastered section that abutted the southern side of the aqueduct’s northern wall indicated the aqueduct was plastered on the interior.
Aqueduct 185 was composed of stone sections set on a foundation of ashlar stones. The stone sections (length 0.8 m, height 0.35 m, width of base 0.3 m, width of top 0.4 m) were shaped as inverted trapezoids with a depression that formed the channel in the center of the base. The width (c. 12 cm) of the water-conveying channel (max. depth 10 cm) varied according to the thickness of the travertine deposits. A stone section was found, in situ, in one square; four other stone sections were discovered 0.8 m south of the stone foundation and it seems they fell or were removed from it in one piece (Fig. 3). The ashlar foundation (length 10 m) was preserved two–three courses high and its base was not reached during the excavation. A single segment of the foundation’s upper part (width c. 3 m) was exposed; its width corresponded to the base of the stone section.
Farther away in Area B another stone section was discovered north of a pool (see below).
The base of the stone section, which was higher than the rim of the pool (Fig. 4: Section 1-1) would seem to suggest that the pool and the stone aqueduct sections were used contemporaneously and the pool was fed both with run-off and probably with a secondary diversion from the aqueduct itself.
No other sections of the aqueduct were found, in situ, but stone sections of the aqueduct were clearly visible in secondary use, in the building remains of the Arab village of Tira. Therefore, it seems that the aqueduct’s poor preservation is due to the plundering of the stone sections for use in local construction during the Ottoman period and even later.
Aqueduct 180 (exposed length 115 m; Fig. 5) was set along the lower edge of the slope. Its direction changed according to topography’s contour lines. It extended to the northwest in the eastern part and after 70 m, it curved to the southwest. The aqueduct, which consisted of two rows of roughly hewn limestone with a red clay pipe in-between, was founded atop a foundation of unworked limestone blocks (Figs. 6; 9:13). Limestone slabs that had been used as a cover were exposed in three places along the aqueduct. The pipeline evidenced intermittent perforation holes that were meant to release pressure (Fig. 7). The aqueduct’s foundation was partly built of small and medium-sized limestone blocks that were replaced by especially large stones after c. 30 m. In a cross-section where the ceramic pipe did not survive it seems the large construction was meant to reinforce the aqueduct in a vulnerable area where erosion was intense. This also explains the two stone walls that were built parallel to the aqueduct and were exposed for a distance of 7 m (W201, W202; width 0.5 m, max. height 0.6 m). These probably served as retaining walls for the aqueduct and were intended to reinforce sections where ground erosion or floods were anticipated. The eastern continuation of the aqueduct(Figs. 4, 8) was located in Area B, 56 m away.
The three aqueducts were built along the same route and it seems that all three conveyed water from the ‘En Qedem spring toward the settlement of Tira, located c. 2 km west of the spring, where settlement strata dating from the third century CE up to the modern era were excavated (ESI 14:50–52). It is difficult to date the aqueducts due to the paucity of ceramic finds, which were mostly recovered from fills and alluvium. Although the finds may be indicative of activity over a prolonged period, it is insufficient for dating the construction of the aqueducts. The fragments of pottery vessels include a bowl (Fig. 9:3) and storage jars (Fig. 9:4–7), dating to the Byzantine period; a storage jar and a saqiye jar (Fig. 9:8, 9), dating to the Early Islamic period; a green glazed bowl (Fig. 9:10), dating to the Mamluk period and a jug and a storage jar (Fig. 9:11, 12) from the Ottoman period. It is therefore assumed that the aqueducts were used from the Byzantine period until the twentieth century and underwent repairs throughout this time. Based on the stratigraphy, it is clear that stone-section Aqueduct 185 replaced the open Aqueduct 190 and was set on the latter southern wall. After Aqueduct 185 was no longer used, Aqueduct 180 was built along a route parallel to the earlier aqueducts.
The aqueducts were surveyed in the past. Von Mülinen who surveyed and documented the Karmel in the middle of the first decade of the twentieth century noted two aqueducts in Tira. He specifically referred to one as an aqueduct (Aqueduct 185) and he said the other consisted of a black ceramic pipe. Von Mülinen claimed that the stones of Aqueduct 185 were taken for other purposes and during his time only half of them still remained in place. The black ceramic pipe conduit was also no longer used in his time; it was broken and water could be seen flowing from it. Von Mülinen mentioned that Schumacher updated him when the construction of another aqueduct, dug in the ground, had begun (ZDPV 1908:67). The documentation by von Mülinen makes it possible to date with certainty the construction of Aqueduct 180 with the red ceramic pipe to the end of the first decade of the twentieth century CE (1907–1908). This aqueduct was in use until the War of Independence, when an iron pipe replaced the ceramic pipe.
All that remains today of Aqueduct 185 are two stones, in situ (one in Area A, the other in Area B). Two other sections were found near the spring. The aqueduct that consisted of a black ceramic pipe was not located in the excavation, but we can assume that it was in use until Aqueduct 180 was constructed and it probably conveyed water for a very long time, from the early Ottoman or the late Mamluk period. The aqueduct was surveyed by Olami (Map of Haifa, West, Site 150) and one can still discern two ceramic pipes, a red one (Aqueduct 180) and a black one below it (Aqueduct 185), in a section of terraced topography near the spring.
Tombs and a Quarry (Area B; Fig. 4)
Area B is located on a gently sloping spur, on a low terrace of a qirton outcrop, above the northern bank of the wadi channel. The survey map of Haifa West mentions 15 rock-hewn burial caves, spread out along 130 m of a slope, descending toward the southern bank of Nahal Galim (Map of Haifa West, Site 139). The rock-hewn burial caves in Area B, which were not excavated, were found plundered like those on the southern bank.
The excavation in Area B was carried out down to natural bedrock. A quarry (L300) that yielded fragments of pottery jars, dating to the Roman period (Fig. 9:1, 2), was cleaned and four shaft tombs were documented.
Two shafts (Loci 301, 302) were discovered in the middle of the area beneath alluvial deposits. The vertical entrance shaft (diam. 1.2 m, depth 1.5–2.5 m) led to a common burial complex. The plan of the tombs and a few body potsherds collected from Shaft 301 indicate that they can be ascribed to Early Bronze Age IV and/or Middle Bronze Age II.
The upper part of two other shafts was discerned on a bedrock terrace, 2 m lower than the eastern part of the area (Loci 309, 310). The shafts were not excavated but they should be ascribed to the complex of shaft tombs in this area, based on the body fragments of pottery vessels and the irregular rock-cutting.
A similar burial cave with a vertical entrance shaft was excavated on the southern bank of Nahal Oranit and ascribed to Middle Bronze Age IIA and IIB (ESI 14:53–53).