During June and August 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted at Moshav Zippori (Permit No. A-4831; map ref. NIG 22596–8/73949–52; OIG 17596–8/23949–52), following the discovery of ancient remains. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by L. Porat, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky surveying and drafting), D. Gahali (aerial photography; Sky Balloons Company), A. Shapiro (GPS, petrography), H. Tahan (pottery drawing) and T. Tzuk of the Nature and Parks Authority.
The excavation area (9.5 × 18.0 m), which had been leveled in the past, extended along the northern slope of a hill in the western part of Moshav Zippori. Two pools (Figs. 1, 2), a circular one that dated to the Roman period and a square pool that dated to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, were exposed. Remains of a mosaic floor from the Byzantine period and remains from the Early Islamic period were excavated in 2003, c. 200 m southwest of pools (Permit No. A-3820).
The Circular Pool (diam. 6.5 m, max. preserved height 1.3 m). Only the southern part of the pool (L14) had survived. The pool, hewn in chalk bedrock, was lined with large ashlar stones (0.55 × 0.80 m) that were also placed along the top edge of the pool (W17). This side of the pool was coated with light gray plaster, upon which were visible water marks. The floor of the pool sloped to the west and was also coated with light gray plaster. A petrographic examination ascertained that the plaster on the side and floor of the pool was the same. The raw material used in making the plaster was indigenous to the vicinity of the site. Two to three layers of plaster were discerned in the pool, indicating that the plaster had been repaired. The eastern side of the pool was severed by the western wall of the square pool (W13; Fig. 3). On the eastern side of the floor was a layer of small and medium-sized stones that probably originated from the square pool. The soil fill discovered on the floor was mixed with potsherds that dated from the first century BCE until the first half of the fifth century CE, including fragments of Kefar Hananya-type bowls (Fig. 4:1–3), Sikhin-type jars (Fig. 4:6) and juglets (Fig. 4:7).
The Square Pool (9.2 × 11.0 m, max. preserved height 1 m) was only excavated along the walls on the inside. The pool, hewn in chalk bedrock, was lined with different size ashlar stones that included two threshold stones in secondary use. The sides of the pool were coated with three layers of plaster. The bottom one was a gray foundation layer mixed with numerous potsherds; the middle one was a white plaster layer to which a thin layer of reddish brown ochre was applied and the top layer consisted of light gray plaster. A single layer of repairs had been applied to the plaster, upon which water marks were discerned. It seems that the raw material used in the plaster originated in the vicinity of the site. The southern side of the pool (W12) was inclined inward and some of the stones in the eastern side had collapsed onto the floor, probably the result of an earthquake (Fig. 5). A small amount of plaster was discovered among the stones that collapsed. The eastern side of the pool (W15) also slanted inward. The western side (W13), which severed the circular pool, had a small rounded outlet that emptied the water in the direction of the circular pool. Two floors were exposed in the pool. The upper floor (L16) consisted of thick gray plaster applied to a bedding of small and medium fieldstones (L18); it abutted all the walls. It appears that the floor was set toward the end of the period when the pool was used because no water marks were visible on it. The upper level of Floor 16 was c. 0.3 m higher than the floor of the circular pool. The bottom floor (L19) was dark gray plaster that was applied to a bedding of small and medium fieldstones (L20), which were placed on bedrock (L21). A yellow-red layer that contained a large amount of carbon, organic material and fossilized shells was discovered on Floor 19. The ceramic finds that were found in the pool’s plaster dated to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods and included fragments of red-burnished bowls (Fig. 4:8), glazed bowls (Fig. 4:9) and jars (Fig. 4:10–12). Many potsherds of the Roman period (first century BCE–first half of second century CE) were discovered in the fill of the pool and on surface, including bowls (Fig. 4:4) and Kefar Hananya-type cooking pots (Fig. 4:5).
It seems that the circular pool, which operated during the Roman period, ceased to be used during the Byzantine period, when the square pool was constructed. The pools were located outside the built-up area of Zippori, and it therefore seems that they were utilized for irrigating farmland in the vicinity of the city. The outlet in the square pool that led toward the circular pool, which was destroyed at this time, was most likely connected to an irrigation channel that did not survive in this section. The inlets to the pools were not discovered and apparently, they were fixed in high places in the sides of the pools and were not preserved. The water that filled the pools probably came from a nearby spring that flows in the winter. During the Roman and Byzantine periods the water sources were approximately 15% more abundant than they are to date.