The Southern Area (Fig. 2). Three walls (W2–W4; width 0.6 m) were discovered in the southern part of the area. The walls, preserved a single course high, were built of dressed kurkar masonry stones and hard roughly hewn limestone. Wall 2 (exposed length 3.5 m), generally aligned east–west and Wall 4 (length 1.8 m), oriented north–south, were combined together and belonged to a single building. Wall 3 (exposed length 1.25 m) formed a 25° angle with Wall 2 and stone fill was found between them; it seems that W3 was built in a later phase. No floors were found. A pit (L123; 1.5 × 1.7 m, depth 0.62 m) was exposed east of W4. It contained a layer of construction debris that included numerous fragments of floor bedding, composed of potsherds embedded in a herringbone pattern in mortar, which is characteristic of winepresses. The remains’ poor state of preservation—probably due to stone looting in antiquity—and the limited scope of the excavation, do not enable us to determine the function of the building and the installation.
North of the building were the remains a plastered pool (L110; 1.45 × 1.74 m, preserved height 0.62 m; Fig. 3) whose use is unclear. The walls of the pool (W5–W8; width 0.35–0.50 m) were built of debesh and coated with plaster on the inside; a lining of dressed kurkar stones was applied to the exterior of W7, making it c. 0.9 m thicker. A dressed stone was found on the pool’s plastered floor. Next of the pool’s southeastern corner was a small section of a wall, preserved a single course high (W9; preserved length 1.8 m; width 0.7 m, preserved height 0.25 m). The wall, oriented east–west, was well-built of dressed stones bonded with light gray mortar. A wall built in a similar manner was exposed c. 3.5 m northwest of the pool (W11; exposed length 1.3 m, width 0.7 m, preserved height 0.24 m). It too was aligned east–west and was preserved a single course high. This wall formed a corner with a wall that abutted it from the north (W1; preserved length c. 4 m, max. width 0.5 m), of which only the fieldstone foundation course had survived. Two surfaces of small stones—east of W1 (L103) and southwest of the pool (L101)—and sections of a light-colored mortar surface to the south of the pool (L130), apparently belonged to floors that were not preserved. The close proximity of the finds in this part of the area and the matching directions of the walls seem to indicate that the pool, the nearby remains of the walls and the floors were all part of a single building complex.
The Northern Area yielded a thick dump (thickness 1.29 m) of workshop debris (L106) that extended across an area (diam. c. 15 m). A variety of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period, mostly Gaza-type jars, as well as workshop debris, glass and bones were found in a probe that was excavated in the dump (2 × 4 m).
The northernmost excavation square revealed another dump with workshop debris, in which reddish mud-brick material was mixed (L122; thickness 0.74 m; Fig. 4). Within this layer and close to the surface were several small and medium-sized kurkar stones that could be the meager remains of a wall’s foundation course (W10). Below this layer was a dark clayey layer (L125; thickness 8 cm) that is characteristic of the natural soil in the region.
A rich assemblage of pottery vessels, as well as clay figurines, a carved bone item, glass vessels and coins, which dated to the Byzantine period, was discovered in the building remains and especially in the dumps of the workshop debris. The pottery consisted of vessels characteristic of the period, including bowls (Fig. 5:1, 2), a krater (Fig. 5:10) and a Fine Byzantine Ware juglet (Fig. 6:4); imported bowls included Late Roman C (Fig. 5:3, 4), Cypriot Red Slip (Fig. 5:5–8) and Egyptian Red Slip (Fig. 5:9); locally produced vessels included bowls (Fig. 5:11, 12), kraters (Fig. 5:13, 14), cooking vessels (Fig. 6:1–3), juglets (Fig. 6:5, 6), a bag-shaped jar (Fig. 6:7) and Gaza jars (Fig. 6:8–11). The fragments of two zoomorphic figurines included the head and chest of a horse (Fig. 7:1) and the round face of an animal facing forward (Fig. 7:2).
The 161 fragments of glass vessels consisted of 59 diagnostic ones. Most of the fragments belonged to vessels that dated to the Byzantine period and the variety of types is similar to that discovered in a tomb excavated in Ashqelon (‘Atiqot 37:67*–82*).
A carved bone object was found on the surface (Fig. 8). It seems that the building remains and the plastered pool belonged to an industrial area that was used at the end of the Byzantine period. The concentrations of workshop debris are indicative of a nearby pottery workshop that was probably located beyond the excavated area.
The Coins
Gabriela Bijovsky
Eight bronze coins were discovered in the excavation, five of which could be identified (Table 1). These are dated from the second half of the fourth century CE until the first half of the sixth century CE. One of the coins is a cast flan without a pattern (No. 3), characteristic of the years 450–550 CE (INJ 14, 2000–2002:202). Two five nummi coins that bear a Chi-Rho Christogram were found (Nos. 4, 5). These belong to a type common to the Ashqelon region and were minted until the year 537 CE, during the reigns of the Byzantine emperors Justin I and Justinian I (W. Hahn 2001. Money of the Incipient Byzantine Empire [Anastasius I – Justinian I, 491-565] [Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte der Universität Wien 6]. Vienna. P. 57). Coin No. 4 (Fig. 9) is probably a local imitation of a pentanummia, as evidenced by the backward pattern on the reverse (retrograde), its inferior style and low weight.