Late Hellenistic period (late second century – first century BCE)
Area D (Figs. 2, 3). A horseshoe-shaped pool (width c. 2.5 m, depth 0.55 m) built in hamra soil was exposed. The southern part of the pool was damaged by mechanical equipment working at the site. The walls of the pool (preserved height 1.25 m) were constructed of small and medium-sized basalt fieldstones; only their inner face was carefully arranged. The floor of the pool was built of small stones placed on a fill consisting of large basalt stones; the floor’s bedding was bounded by the pool’s walls. Three layers of light gray hydraulic plaster were applied to the pool’s walls and floor. The plaster extends onto the upper part of the walls in the pool’s northeastern corner, where there might have been an inner ledge or step that led down into the pool. Collapsed stones and pieces of plaster from the walls were found inside the pool. It also contained alluvium mixed with cattle, pig, sheep and goat bones, as well as pottery sherds dating from the second–first centuries BCE. These included a cooking pot (Fig. 4:1), jars (Fig. 4:2–4) and a juglet with a spout and filter, the upper part of which is slipped red both inside and outside (Fig. 4:5).
Roman and Byzantine periods (second–sixth centuries CE)
Area A (Figs. 5, 6). A wall (W17) aligned in an east–west direction was exposed. It was built of one row of dressed basalt stones in secondary use; small basalt fieldstones were arranged between the dressed stones and on the northern face of the wall. The wall was founded on hamra and was preserved to a height of one course. Building remains exposed west of the wall were constructed of small and medium-sized basalt, limestone and travertine fieldstones founded on hamra; it seems that this construction adjoined W17. This construction presumably served as an infrastructure or foundation for walls that had not survived. On the western side of the wall, between W17 and the fieldstone construction, was a fill consisting of brown soil, small stones and travertine pebbles. Alluvium exposed south of the wall was mixed with numerous travertine pebbles, indicating that water flowed there at one time. The beginning of construction running in a north–south direction and collapsed stones were uncovered in the eastern part of the area. Small, worn fragments of pottery vessels from the middle of the Roman period and the Byzantine period were discovered in the area (not drawn).
Area B (Figs. 7–9) yielded two perpendicular walls (W3, W4) that were constructed of various-sized stones, both of limestone and basalt, mainly fieldstones but some roughly hewn. The walls were founded on hamra and survived to a height of two courses. The southern part of W3 was damaged as a result of work carried out at the site prior to the excavation. Wall 4 continued west beyond the limits of the excavation. East of these walls were the meager and fragmented remains of another wall (W5) that adjoined W3 from the southeast. Wall 5 was built of small and medium-sized basalt fieldstones preserved one course high. It was founded on hamra containing pottery sherds, and its elevation was higher than that of the other walls. Several basalt stones were uncovered northeast of W5, probably part of a wall that did not survive. A large, roughly hewn basalt stone, evidently part of a wall, abutted W4 on the north; it was set on a bed of small basalt and limestone fieldstones that lay on hamra containing pottery sherds. The elevation of the stone was higher than that of Wall 4. An occupation level consisting of dark gray soil was discovered throughout the excavation square. The sherds discovered in Area B were very small and date from the middle of the Roman period to the end of the Byzantine period (not drawn).
Area C (Fig. 10). Wall stumps and collapsed stones, comprising dressed stones and limestone and basalt fieldstones, were exposed. Among the stones were a lower millstone and a small fragment of a hard limestone column. The area was damaged on all sides as a result of earthworks. The excavation in the area was not completed due to time constraints.
The Hellenistic-period pool is probably related to some agricultural activity, since it is located outside the city limits and no other remains were discovered in its immediate vicinity. It might be part of a Hellenistic-period farm that has yet to be discovered in the environs of Nysa-Scythopolis. The construction remains from the Roman and Byzantine periods are probably related to farm buildings and installations, indicating extensive agricultural activity there during these periods. Presumably, the construction in Area A is the foundation of a water-related installation, whereas the walls in Area B belonged to an agricultural structure that was built in the middle of the Roman period and was expanded northward and eastward in the Byzantine period. The finds uncovered in the excavation add another important tier to our understanding of the agricultural hinterland of Nysa-Scythopolis in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.