During February 2000 a trial excavation was conducted at Azor (A-3196*; map ref. NIG 18177–9/65917–9; OIG 13177–9/15917–9), in an area slated for construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by H. Torgë, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography) A. Pikovsky (find drawing) and G. Bijovsky (numismatics).
Two squares (1, 2) were opened southeast of the Tel Azor fortress, distanced c. 25 m from each other; walls, floors and tabuns were discovered, mostly dating to the Umayyad period.
Square 1 (Fig. 1). Three tabuns were exposed in the western part of the square (L11; average diam. c. 0.5 m; one tabun was washed away by the winter rains and is not marked on the plan). The tabuns contained pottery from the Abbasid (Fig. 4:7) and Mamluk (Fig. ) periods. To the south of the tabuns were remains of a kurkar sandstone pavement (L14) and pottery from the Abbasid (Fig. 4:6) and Mamluk (Fig. 4:4) periods. Three walls (W2–W4) of a room (L17) to the northwest of the tabuns were built into virgin soil. The shape of the original building and its use could not be determined due to the poor state of the foundations and the lack of a fourth wall. The mixed ceramic finds from the room included potsherds from the Umayyad, Mamluk and Ottoman periods, as well as from modern times.
Square 2. An intact oil lamp from the Umayyad period (Fig. 4:8) was found on the surface, as a result of modern infrastructure activities in the area. Six successive living surfaces were noted. In the uppermost level (Fig. 2) from the Umayyad period was a wall (W1) built of kurar stones and preserved c. 0.5 m high. A yellowish kakur floor (L13; c. 2 cm thick) abutted W1. The eastern half of a large tabun (L16; diam. c. 2.5 m) with a double wall (c. 0.3 m thick) was on the floor; its western half was severed by the digging of three cesspits. A pavement of kurkar sandstone slabs near the tabun could not be dated due to its close proximity to the modern cesspits. The excavation continued only in the northern part of the square.
The second living surface (Fig. 3), which was 0.3 m beneath the first surface, included a wall (W5), close to which W1 was later erected, at which time the top of W5 was plastered and incorporated within Floor L13. An intact juglet (Fig. 4:5) was found above a thin kurkar floor (L19) that abutted W5. The third living surface was discovered at c. 0.2 m beneath Floor L19. It was a thin chalk floor (L22) that also abutted W5. Remains of a tabun (L23; diam. 0.5 m) and potsherds (Fig. 4:2) were found on its western side. The two floors were dated to the Umayyad period, based on the ceramic finds.
At c. 0.5 m beneath Floor L22, the fourth living surface was revealed. The accumulation between the fourth surface and Floor L22 yielded an Umayyad coin (IAA 95498) from the eighth century CE. The surface included a pavement of kurkar limestone slabs (L26; 8 cm thick) located c. 0.2 m to the south of W5. Between this pavement and W5 were additional stone slabs laid diagonally, apparently for support, since their head was leaning upon the lowest course of W5. The stones could be part of an installation or perhaps construction that was intended to stabilize W5. Beneath the floor slabs was a thick layer of kurkar that served as bedding for the floor. This layer was dated to the Umayyad period, based on ceramic finds.
The fifth living surface emerged 3 cm beneath the bedding of the slab floor. It was a layer (0.5 m thick) that contained dark ash with many charcoal lumps, and glass slag (L25). In all likelihood, it was waste of a glass furnace. This surface yielded very few potsherds that dated to the Umayyad period.
The sixth surface was a layer of green clayey material with numerous pottery fragments from the Umayyad period (Fig. 4:1, 3, 9), possibly a refuse pit that was over a meter deep. The excavation was suspended due to safety concerns, without reaching the bottom of this layer.