During September 2008–March 2009, two seasons of a salvage excavation were conducted in the Berenice Aqueduct (Permit Nos. A-5504, A-5603; map ref. 251036–337/742561–673), prior to the construction of a sewage pumping station. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Tiberias Municipality, was directed by A. Mokary, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kunin (surveying), Y. Arnon (pottery reading and sorting), H. Smithline (field photography) and M. Hartal (guidance).
The site is located east of Shikun A, c. 400 m from the shore of Lake Kinneret. Several excavations had been conducted nearby in the past; c. 20 m southeast of the current excavation, remains that dated from the fourth until the end of the eleventh centuries CE were uncovered (Permit No. A-5057); Y. Hirschfeld exposed a structure from the Late Roman period c. 50 m north of the current excavation, which has been suggested to be identified as a bet midrash (IAA Reports 22:5–13), and a building from the Fatimid period, in which a hoard of metal vessels was discovered (IAA Reports 22:62–67).
Architectural remains that are attributed to four periods: Middle Roman, Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid, were exposed in the current excavation (210 sq m; Figs. 1, 2).
Middle Roman Period. Wall segments, founded on virgin soil and built of roughly hewn basalt stones, do not join to form a comprehensive plan. Floors of packed gravel, placed on soil fill, abutted the walls. A terracotta pipe was set below the floor that abutted the northern side of Wall 858. Fragments of cooking pots, jars and juglets that dated to the second–third centuries CE were found on the floors.
Umayyad Period. A building that consisted of at least four rooms, generally oriented north–south, was exposed above the wall remains from the Roman period. A doorway, which separated the two middle rooms, was set in Wall 826. The tamped-earth floors of the rooms were overlain with fragments of jars, cooking pots, jugs, juglets and lamps, dating to the seventh and the first half of the eighth centuries CE. It was impossible to determine why the building ceased to be used because no evidence of destruction was found; however, it is clear that the inhabitants in the Abbasid period built a new structure. It is possible that they had first cleared the remains of the Umayyad building.
Abbasid Period. The building ascribed to this period was partially set on the foundations of the structure from the Umayyad period. Wall 796, for example, was founded on Walls 894 and 895. The building included a large courtyard (L864) that extended across the southwestern quarter of the excavation area. The courtyard was surrounded by rooms on the south, east and north and was reached by way of several openings. Two cesspits (A, B) were installed in the courtyard. A staircase that led to a second story was located in the northeastern corner of the building, alongside Wall 842. On the tamped-earth floors of the rooms were fragments of jars, jugs, bowls and cooking pots that dated from the middle of the eighth to the tenth centuries CE.
Fatimid Period. The building from the Abbasid period continued to be used, but several changes were made to the courtyard. A wall (W801), dividing the courtyard in two, was built. The area south of W801 was enlarged and covered with a roof; Walls 843 and 844 from the Abbasid period were negated and a tamped-earth floor was set down; two columns (C, D) that supported the roof were positioned atop it. A staircase leading to a second story was built next to the courtyard’s western wall (W780). The area of the courtyard north of W801 remained uncovered. It was paved with basalt flagstones and two ovens (E, F) were installed on top of it. Another staircase was built adjacent to Wall 782 and it too ascended to a second story. The ceramic artifacts included mostly cooking pots, jars and lamps from the eleventh century CE.