During May 2006, a trial excavation was conducted in the Nof Gil‘ad quarter of Bet She’an (Permit No. A-4798; map ref. 242610–30/710940–60), after ancient remains were damaged during construction work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Mamshin Company Ltd., was directed by W. Atrash (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi and Y. Lavan (administration), T. Meltsen (surveying), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing), R. Vinitsky (metallurgical laboratory), and G. Bijovsky (numismatics).
The excavation was carried out southeast of the Roman city’s southern 'Jerusalem Gate', which is mentioned in the inscription from the synagogue at Rehov as ‘Pyli de Campon’, and outside the Byzantine city walls.
Remains of a farmhouse from the Late Byzantine period were discovered in a previous excavation south of the city (HA-ESI 120
). Remains of walls and installations belonging to a farm that was deserted at the end of the Umayyad period were exposed next to the current excavation (HA
115:31*–33*). Dwellings, agricultural installation, channels and a cistern from the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods, and a street of shops from the Byzantine period were discovered southeast of the ancient city’s center (HA-ESI 116
, HA-ESI 121
A square was opened in farmland located on the southeastern fringes of Bet She’an and two strata were exposed. A section of a terrace wall, dating to the Umayyad period, was discovered in Stratum I and a layer composed of alluvium and sediment was excavated in Stratum II, ascribed to the Byzantine period.
A layer of alluvium (L102, thickness c. 1 m; Fig. 1) was founded on a layer of sterile gray soil (L103). The alluvium layer contained two coins (IAA 117669, 117670) from the fourth–fifth centuries CE and numerous lumps of travertine that had crystallized on potsherds dating to the Late Byzantine period, including a bowl (Fig. 2:1), cooking pots (Fig. 2:2–5) and a jar (Fig. 2:6). The layer of alluvium is indicative of free flowing water that conveyed archaeological material, upon which the lumps of travertine crystallized. It seems that this layer was formed after the residents of Nysa-Scythopolis destroyed the system of channels and dams at the end of the Byzantine period, during the Muslim conquest.
A terrace wall (W101; Fig. 3) built of a single row of basalt fieldstones is ascribed to this stratum. The wall, oriented north–south (length 2 m, width 0.4 m) and preserved a single course high, was founded on the layer of alluvium (L102). Potsherds from the Late Byzantine period and a cooking pot from the Umayyad period (Fig. 2:7) were found in the wall’s foundation. The nature of the wall’s construction and its location in the city’s agricultural hinterland show it was connected to the farming activity in the region. It seems that the agricultural land was not densely inhabited and scattered farms were located around.