During June–July 2004 a salvage excavation was conducted at Khirbat esh-Shubeika (Permit No. 4202*; map ref. NIG 2163/7690; OIG 1663/2690), in the wake of damage to antiquities caused by digging a pit for the installation of an antenna. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Pelephone Communications Company, was directed by D. Syon, with the assistance of H. Smithline (area supervision), Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying) and L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory). Special thanks are extended to D. Avshalom-Gorni (ceramics).
From 1991 to 2001 four excavations were conducted at Kh. esh-Shubeika, revealing a settlement site that was probably founded in the Hellenistic period (second–first centuries BCE). The main finds and buildings dated to the Late Roman (fourth century CE), Byzantine (fifth–seventh centuries CE) and Early Islamic (eighth–tenth centuries CE) periods. The exposed features included parts of a residential neighborhood, part of a monastery, a church and burial caves (Eretz Zafon:219–349).
Two adjacent squares (total size 4.5 x 10 m), c. 50 m east of the dwellings excavated in 1991 and c. 30 m north of the church excavated in 2001, were opened. Two agricultural terraces from the Early Islamic period and fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Byzantine period were discovered.
Two parallel walls (W13, W16) one course high, built on an incline perpendicular to the slope and aligned north–south were exposed. The walls, set directly on the soil, were constructed from natural chalk stones and dressed blocks of nari, apparently in secondary use. They possibly served as terraces. Several pottery fragments found near the walls indicated that they should probably be dated to the beginning of the Early Islamic period (the middle of the seventh–middle of the eighth centuries CE).
A layer of terra rosa soil (thickness 0.2 m) that contained a large amount of small stones, as well as numerous fragments of pottery vessels from the end of the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE; L14) was uncovered c. 0.3 m below the walls and was not connected to them. This layer was exposed in the central and eastern parts of the excavation area and it overlaid another terra rosa layer (L15) devoid of ancient finds. This was the case with regard to two probes dug by mechanical equipment northeast and northwest of the excavation area; the probes yielded terra rosa soil on bedrock that was void of ancient finds. Unlike most of the sites from the Byzantine period, only a few fragments of glass vessels were found.
Seventy-nine rims of locally produced and imported vessels, dating to the Byzantine period, were counted. The pottery assemblage from this excavation is similar to the one discovered in the 1991 excavation. The local vessels, which constitute 34% of the finds, included cooking pots with plain everted rims and folded everted rims; frying pans with cut inverted rims and one frying pan fragment with an elongated handle, and a large group of barrel-shape jars, dating to the Umayyad period. The jars are well-fired and have (1) a flat, thickened rim and a short neck; (2) a folded everted rim with a rectangular cross-section, and (3) two rounded rims with a high neck. Jar lids with a rounded rim and an interior gutter were also present. The imported vessels constituted 66% of the finds and included imported red slipped bowls, which are divided into their different types according to Hayes’ classification:
Basins with a flat everted rim, a triangular cross-section and an incised decoration on the rim were also found, as well as amphorae with a flat everted rim, produced of buff-colored clay that contained many small black inclusions.
The results of the pottery analysis reveal a remarkably large number of imported vessels, mainly bowls, in contrast to the few locally produced vessels, which are predominantly barrel-shaped jars. The overall majority of the finds is from the Byzantine period (sixth century and the beginning of the seventh century CE). Only three vessel fragments from the Early Islamic period were discovered, unlike the previous excavation, where these vessels were the dominant factor.
The layer of soil that contained the pottery fragments should probably be ascribed to the settlement phase from the Byzantine period. The area may have served as a refuse dump for the settlement, and was covered with soil after its use ended. In the Early Islamic period, two meager walls that may have functioned as terraces were built above it.
The primary contribution of the excavation is in defining the northeastern border of the ruin, which was badly destroyed by a stone quarry south of the Nahariyya–Ma‘alot road.