During November 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted at Caesarea (Permit No. A-5544; map ref. 19017/71143), after ancient remains were damaged. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Israel Electric Company, was directed by E. Oren, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), P. Gendelman (ceramic consultation), M. Shuiskaya (drawing of finds), C. Amit (studio photography) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
The excavation was conducted just north of the perimeter fence of Qibbuz Sedot Yam, east of Caesarea’s Roman theater and close to the line of the city wall from the Byzantine period. A large mosaic-paved building and a series of walls that enclosed cultivation plots from the Byzantine period had been excavated nearby in the past (HA-ESI 118, HA-ESI 119).
A layer of modern fill (thickness 1.7 m) was removed with the aid of mechanical equipment and a single square (16 sq m) was opened.Three strata (I–III; Fig. 1) that included installations and building remains were discovered and are described below from the latest to the earliest.
Stratum I. A floor of stone tiles founded on a layer of light colored plaster (L12; Fig. 2) was discovered in the southwest and northwest. A marble fragment, bearing an unintelligible Greek inscription, was found between the stone tiles (Fig. 3). Fragments of an amphora that dated to the sixth–seventh centuries CE (Fig. 4:2) were discovered in the foundation of the pavement. An ashlar-built wall (W30; min. length 3 m, width 0.5 m; Fig. 5), preserved two courses high and exposed with the aid of mechanical equipment, was also ascribed to this stratum. The wall was built on a massive earlier foundation (L35). Jar fragments (Fig. 4:1) that dated to the sixth century CE were discovered between the wall and the foundation.
Stratum II. Part of an industrial tabun (L20; diam. c. 1.6 m; Fig. 6) that was built directly on bedrock was exposed below the stone pavement of Stratum I; it seems to have been repaired numerous times. The tabun’s interior was not excavated due to time constraints. A wall (W24) built of small stones and bonded with mortar was exposed east of the tabun.
Potsherds dating to the third–fourth centuries CE, including a jar (Fig. 4:3), an amphora (Fig. 4:4) and a jug (Fig. 4:5), were collected.
Stratum III. An installation (L18; Fig. 7) was discovered; one of its sides and part of the floor that survived, were coated with a number of thick plaster layers. A thick layer of travertine accumulated above the plaster, suggesting it was used for conveying or storing water. The installation was mostly destroyed when Tabun 20 was constructed in Stratum II. Fragments of a cooking pot (Fig. 4:6) and a jug (Fig. 4:7), dating to the second–fourth centuries CE, were discovered near the floor section of the installation.
A massive wall foundation (L15), adjacent to the eastern side of the installation, was built of large ashlars (0.30 × 0.39 × 0.55 m), set on the bedrock; its upper part was coated with thick plaster. An ashlar built wall (W17), of which only two stones had survived, was founded on the plaster.
The limited excavation area and the damage to most of the remains made it difficult to assess the nature of the antiquities in the square; however, the plastered installation and the large tabun suggest that the region was used as an industrial zone.