Area A (Fig. 2). The narrow probe trench dug in this area in 2008, situated at the northeastern section of the hilltop, was expanded into a three-square large area. Remains of an elaborately built monumental wall (W7018, W7039 and L7094), oriented north–south across the entire two eastern squares (length 10 m), were discovered. A narrow section of the western face of this wall (W7018) was found in 2008, but its character and function remained unclear. To the west of the wall was a pavement layer of hard-packed plaster and cobblestones that covered what is thought to be a small courtyard. In 2008, c. 70 bronze coins were found on the surface of and below this open space, indicating that the building represented by the monumental wall might have been in use at c. 400 CE. Another 430 coins—similar minima—were exposed in the same area this season and are likely to corroborate the 2008 dating. A second wall (W7073), c. 2 m west of and parallel to W7018, was discovered. Only c. 5 m of this wall were exposed. Two large blocks incorporated in the wall and set c. 2 m apart may have supported pillars and suggest that the area between both walls was roofed.
Fragments of pilasters and other architectural elements were found in a heap close by. These parts will eventually contribute to the reconstruction of the layout and design of the building. Fills in the building and around it contained thousands of simple single tesserae and many broken roof tiles.
To the east of the monumental wall (W7018, W7039) runs a low bench of hewn stones and partly covered with gray plaster (W7064, W7072; Fig. 3). It is interrupted by an entrance (L7094, L7095), roughly in the center of its excavated part. The floor abutting the bench was composed of fine gray, hard plaster (L7080; Fig. 4). Whether additional floor layers exist below the top surface will need to be checked in the future. A tabun (oven) and very late Byzantine and Early Islamic pottery on the plaster floor are likely to represent the last phase of the building’s use, sometime in the mid-eighth century CE. Analysis of the pottery and the coins found during this campaign will eventually allow a more secure dating of the building, from its construction until its final end. A couple of observations urge us to embrace the working hypothesis that the building, to which the monumental wall belonged, was a synagogue.
Area C (Fig. 5). Excavations in this newly opened area revealed parts of what seems to be two domestic units, probably courtyard houses, separated by a narrow alley. Unit 1 consists of the southern end of a courtyard and the northern section of the house’s interior. The courtyard and the house are connected by a narrow doorway (L8089) on the northern end of the excavation area (Fig. 6). The grid only permitted to excavate a small section of two or three rooms of Unit 1. The entire excavation area was covered with a large amount of building debris, which especially in the southern section of Unit 1, showed regular patterns whose analysis will eventually help in identifying the reasons for the destruction; at present, an earthquake seems to be a likely cause. The courtyard was altered several times during its existence and offered space for several work places in close vicinity to the wall forming the eastern boundary of Unit 1 (W8077; Fig. 7). During the last phase of the courtyard’s existence, it was paved with carefully set flagstones in the southern half (L8067), while the rest of the floor consisted of beaten earth. Next to a flat stone, a reused basalt capital probably served as foundation for a wooden pillar, supporting a roof.
Unit 2 was separated from Unit 1 by a narrow east–west alley on its southern end (L8053). Only a very small section of Unit 2, including parts of a room with an entrance on its eastern side, was excavated.
Preliminary reading of the pottery suggests that both units were in use between the fourth and early eighth centuries CE. A large pottery concentration under the latest layer of destruction debris in Unit 2 was dated to the mid-seventh century CE. A handful of earlier potsherds in fill layers possibly indicate earlier habitation.
Architectural Survey (Fig. 8). The clearing of the site area after the bushfire enabled to conduct a systematic survey and map all the architectural features visible above ground on the upper plateau. All tachymetric data were immediately imported into the project database and helped the day-by-day documentation in the field, as well as the growing collection of three-dimensional measurements that will allow accurate digital modeling in the future. The survey of the plateau provided an accurate map of all the architectural features. Analysis of data collected in 2008 and 2010 revealed that the site covered an area of c. 30 dunams, rather than 12 dunams, as estimated before.
Cave Exploration. Three caves were explored. Cave 1 (map ref. 250653/754444), bell-shaped and filled with debris, was used as a cistern (depth c. 6 m). Cave 2 (map ref. 250602/754527; Fig. 9) also served as a cistern (depth c. 4.5 m), which was completely coated with gray hydraulic lime plaster. The cistern was crudely hewn and had rough walls. Soil and fallen rocks had accumulated on its base. At the bottom of the cistern’s western face was a square hewn opening (width 0.8 m, height 0.5 m, depth 0.2 m), blocked with soil. A recess (width 0.7 m, height 0.4 m, depth 0.3 m) was cut on its northeastern side. The nature of the hewing and the openings opposite each other suggests that this may have been a hiding cave. Cave 3 (map ref. 250606/754518) also functioned as a cistern. It is coated with gray hydraulic lime plaster, apart from the section widening to the northeast, where the bedrock is conspicuously lacking plaster, suggesting that the plaster coating was incomplete in this particular cistern.
Together with the well-known synagogues at Capernaum and Khorazin (both c. fifth– sixth centuries CE) and the recently discovered ones at Khirbat Hammam (second–third centuries CE) and Magdala (first century CE), the possible new synagogue discovered at Horbat Kur (tentatively dated to the fourth–fifth centuries CE) adds new evidence for a very tight net of synagogues in a relatively small area on the northwestern shores of the Lake of Galilee.
Excavations in domestic Area C produced important data about daily life in a Galilean village during the Early Christian and Talmudic periods. Excavations will be continued in 2011 to fully expose the synagogue and explore further domestic areas within this ancient village.
Tel Kinrot. Continued analysis of finds and findings from Tel Kinrot was focused on the reanalysis of the Early Iron Age architecture of Field II (former Areas K, M and W). This reassessment showed that Early Iron Age Kinrot gradually developed from a simple basal layout into a very tight architectural cluster. Traceable building stages in Field II included a sequence of at least six phases that illustrate a vivid and intense densification process at the close the eleventh and the beginning of the tenth centuries BCE. This consolidation of living space is less evident in Field I, where the original habitat did not undergo such dramatic changes during the main phase of the Early Iron Age at Tel Kinrot (HA-ESI121). However, evidence from Field II suggests that the lifespan of Early Iron Age Kinrot was considerable and could have covered up to 100–150 years. Furthermore, the examination of the street layout and its relation to the initial building of the terrace- and city-walls—the latter were a partial reuse of the Late Bronze Age fortification—proved yet once again the diligent and far-sighted architectural approach of the founders of the Iron Age I settlement (Fig. 10).
Further work on the finds from Tel Kinrot, including ceramics from Iron Age I (Fig. 11), as well as on the organic and textile remains, was undertaken. This work contributes to the progress of preparing the final report on the archaeological remains from this important site.