Area A
Four quarries (L100, L101, L102, L109; Fig. 1) were uncovered. Quarries 100 and 101 were small and rectangular. Quarry 102 was a ‘courtyard’-type quarry and three stones whose hewing was incomplete were located in its eastern side (Fig. 2). Two hewn cist graves were discovered in the western side of the quarry. A lower step was cut along the two long sides of the graves for placing the covering stones (Fig. 3). Quarry 109 was the largest of the quarries and a hewn tomb dating to the Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE) was discovered in its northern part. A plastered courtyard (L112; Fig. 4) was located in front of the tomb. The courtyard was delimited by three fieldstone-built walls (W107, W114, W122) and the side of the quarry. Wall 122 abutted the side of the quarry. A square stone with a notch in its center, which was probably in secondary use, sealed the opening to the cave (Fig. 5).
Pottery vessels dating to the Roman period were discovered in the forecourt, including a decorated bowl (Fig. 6:1) and a jar (Fig. 6:2). On the floor of the courtyard (L124) was a Roman lamp that dated to the third–fourth centuries CE (Fig. 6:3) and a decorated glass vessel, ascribed to the third century CE (Fig. 7; below).
The burial cave postdated the quarrying activity and it therefore seems that most of the rock-cutting in the quarry occurred prior to the third century CE.
Area B
A burial cave (L116; Fig. 8) with two burial troughs in its eastern side was discovered. The southern trough (L121; Fig. 9) was partially exposed; the northern trough was not excavated. Walls built of mortar and small stones (0.2 × 0.2 m) separated between the two troughs and partitioned the troughs from the interior of the cave. It can reasonably be assumed that the cave was hewn in the Roman period, based on its shape and its ceiling had probably collapsed in antiquity. The ceramic finds recovered from the cave were dated to the Ottoman period and indicate that the cave was used for another purpose at that time. The finds include a glazed bowl (Fig. 10:1), a Gaza-type bowl (Fig. 10:2), a krater (Fig. 10:3) and a terracotta pipe (Fig. 10:4). A burnt layer, probably from producing lime, sealed the cave from above.
The Glass Vessel
Yael Gorin-Rosen
Two fragments of green glass with olive-green veins that belonged to a single vessel were found in the excavation (L112; see Fig. 6). One fragment is the base and the other is the vessel’s body, rim and handles. The two fragments do not join, but it is almost certain they are part of the same vessel – a kohl tube that was very common at the end of the Late Roman period. The vessel was blown in a mold with a pattern of broad ribs that are twisted to form diagonal ribbing. The rim of the vessel is everted, thickened and rounded. The body is cylindrical and becomes wider and slightly curved toward the bottom, which is a base ring, hollow and slightly raised. Two loop handles are drawn from the body to the edge of the rim. The quality of glass is not particularly good, the side is thickened and the base is carelessly made with remains of glass and metal from the pontil. This vessel seems to be a product of one of the workshops that operated in the Land of Israel at the end of the Late Roman period. The vessel is well preserved, as is usually the case with vessels recovered from funerary assemblages.
It seems that the quarries were used by the residents of the nearby settlement in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. The tombs were apparently part of the Hellenistic and Roman burial complexes in the region, alluding to intensive habitation in these periods. Finds dating to the Ottoman period were discovered in Cave 116, which was apparently used by the inhabitants of the nearby village of Qula.