The Early Phase. A square structure (c. 272 sq m) was exposed. Most of the walls were built of two rows of medium and large flint and limestone, some of which were roughly hewn, with smaller stones bonded with brown soil and deposited in-between. Some of the building’s walls were built of mud bricks. The walls delimiting the structure (W200–W203, W224; width 0.85–1.00 m) were preserved five–eight courses high. An entrance to the building (L767) was set between Walls 200 and 224.
A row of five rooms (6–10; Fig. 4) was exposed in the southern part of the structure. It was delimited on the north by two walls (W204, W211; width 0.65–0.75 m), which were preserved three–five courses high. An opening (L756), connecting the southern row of rooms with the inner courtyard (1) and built of carefully hewn stone doorjambs (0.30×0.37×0.40 m), was set between W204 and W211. The openings of Rooms 6–9 were fixed in the inner walls that separated the rooms from each other. All of the openings were aligned east–west and were built of rectangular stone doorjambs. A modern disturbance that damaged the ancient remains was discerned in Room 6. The floor of the room (L732; Fig. 5) was composed of tamped loess, lumps of chalk and gray plaster, above the bedrock. The floor was covered with stone collapse, white plaster and brown loess (L705, L723) that originated from the walls of the room. Tabun fragments were discovered next to a row of stones in the room and an ash layer was visible nearby (L753). Fragments of pottery vessels were discovered in the room, including Fine Byzantine Ware bowls (Fig. 6:4, 6), a FBW cup (Fig. 6:13), two jar rims (Fig. 6:26, 27), a flat base of a jug (Fig. 6:35), an almost complete sandal lamp, fragments of a piriform lamp decorated with a floral pattern (Fig. 6:38, 39), fragments of a vessel decorated with white circles (Fig. 6:41), as well as fragments of glass vessels dating to the Late Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (below). Room 7 was filled with loess, small stones, mud-brick material and ash (L754). An ash pit (L758) that damaged the wall of the room (W216) was discovered in the room’s northwestern corner; it apparently belonged to the phase when the site was abandoned. Several potsherds were discovered in Room 7, including the base of a Late Roman C bowl decorated with a cross (Fig. 6:5), a body fragment with a mold-made decoration (Fig. 6:42), a closed cooking pot and a lid (Fig. 6:17,21), as well as fragments of glass vessels dating to the Early Islamic period (see below). An LRC type bowl dating to the Byzantine period was discovered in a fill inRoom 8; the floor of this room was not excavated. Rooms 9 and 10 might have been initially one large room that was subsequently made smaller by the construction of a wall (W205). Mud-brick material and loess, as well as fragment of a red-slipped bowl (Fig. 6:1), were discovered above the floor (L788) in Room 10. A habitation level, composed of a thin layer of ash mixed with loess (L740) and placed on leveled bedrock, was also discovered in Room 10. Very little of Room 9 was excavated.
Two rooms (3, 5) were exposed in the western part of the building. Room 3 (3.30×5.35 m) was delineated by inner walls (W209, W215, W218; width 0.55–0.60 m) built of mud bricks and preserved four courses high. A foundation of small stones was exposed in W209. An installation (L771; 0.70×0.75 m, depth 0.21 m), built of mud-brick material and small stones and coated with white plaster that contained ash, was exposed in the room’s southeastern corner. The floor of the room (L775), composed of brown loess and ash, was laid on top of the bedrock. The floor was overlain with fragments of mud bricks, ash and white plaster (L762). A concentration of ash (L799) was discovered near W215. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Early Islamic period were discovered in the room, including bowls (Fig. 6:9, 11), the upper half of a jar (Fig. 6:25) and glass vessels (see below). Wall 209 separated Room 3 from Room 5 (3.1×3.9 m). The doorway of Room 5 was apparently set in W218; however, it did not survive. The fill above W218 (L786) contained fragments of a glass bottle from the Early Islamic period (see below). The room was covered with orange-brown loess (L707, L719, L766) that originated from the mud bricks of Walls 209 and 218 and stone collapse. A raised white plastered surface (L796; 1.7×3.1 m; preserved height 0.39 m; Fig. 7) was exposed in the southern part of the room. The raised surface might have been used as a bench for sleeping, in which case the room was used as a dwelling. The floor in the northern part of the room (L797) consisted of tamped brown loess on top of bedrock that was not leveled. Fragments of pottery were discovered in the room, including FBW cups (Fig. 6:14–16), a cooking pot lid (Fig. 6:22) and Mafjar type jugs, some of which with mold-made decorations (Fig. 6:29, 30, 34) and glass vessels from the Early Islamic period.
Parts of W218 and Floor 797 were destroyed when a later grave was dug (L792). Part of a human skeleton was discovered in the grave; it was examined and left in place. The bones were identified as representing a female c. 20 years of age.
Fragments of a glass bracelet from the Mamluk period were discovered in the grave (see below). An opening, built of meticulously hewn stone doorjambs (0.25×0.35×0.57 m) and two threshold stones, was set between Walls 215 and 218. The opening connected Rooms 3 and 5 to a portico (12), delimited on the east by four stone pillars that opened onto the courtyard; the three southern pillars were exposed in the excavation. The second pillar from the north (L776; 1.0×1.1 m, preserved height 0.28 m) was built of different size stones that were not uniformly worked. Near the pillar were fragments of a FBW bowl (Fig. 6:10), a complete FBW cup from the Early Islamic period and a lump of glass. Fill above the floor (L761, L774) was discovered near the third pillar from the north (0.55×0.75 m, preserved height 0.53 m); it contained potsherds, including jugs (Fig. 6:33) and fragments of glass vessels. The fourth and southernmost pillar (0.7×0.7 m, preserved height 0.62 m), built next to W204, was abutted from the west by a raised surface (L803; 0.41×0.90×1.80 m), which was exposed beneath fill consisting of orange-brown soil, ash and white plaster (L726). The fill contained a small amount of potsherds, including a base of a jug (Fig. 6:36), fragments of glass vessels from the Umayyad period (below) and a piece of a millstone (Fig. 8:1).
Another room (11; 3.0×3.6 m) was exposed in the northeastern corner of the building. An opening blocked with stones was discovered in its southern wall. The room was filled with stone collapse (L721). The floor of the room was tamped chalk and stones and a level of ash mixed with brown loess (L724, L779) was overlaying it. An installation enclosed with stones (L798; 1.2×1.8 m) was exposed in the room’s northwestern corner. Only a scant amount of ceramics was discovered in Room 11, including a bowl (Fig. 6:7), a jug (Fig. 6:32), a ceramic fragment decorated with incising (Fig. 6:40) and a fragment of a quern (Fig. 8:2).
The building’s courtyard (c. 78 sq m) was bordered by the pillars of the portico and walls; it was only partially excavated. A raised surface (0.95×2.70 m, height 0.62 m), delimited by a wall (W214), was exposed in the southern part of the courtyard, next to Wall 211. A step (length 0.9 m, width 0.23 m) was built on the eastern side of the surface. It is unclear what the surface was used for; it might have been connected to the activity taking place on the roofs of the rooms. It is possible that the courtyard was bigger at first and extended into the area of Room 11. The courtyard floor was exposed near Doorway 756; it consisted of brown loess mixed with ash that was placed on the leveled bedrock (L772, L773, L781). Fragments of pottery vessels were discovered above the floor (L765), including a bowl (Fig. 6:8), a cooking pot (Fig. 6:20), a jar (Fig. 6:24) and a jug (Fig. 6:31), all dating to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, and several fragments of glass vessels from the beginning of the Early Islamic period. An ash pit (L801) was exposed near W203, in the eastern part of the courtyard. The pit cut through mud-brick material (L800), possibly of a wall that did not survive. The finds from Pit 801 included several fragmentary pottery vessels, among them a cooking pot lid (Fig. 6:23) and jars (Fig. 6:28). Stone collapse and soft gray loess (L749, L782), which contained fragmentary pottery vessels, including cooking pots (Fig. 6:18, 19), were exposed in the area of the courtyard, near Room 11.
The Late Phase. Three rooms constructed along the exterior of the building were exposed. Part of a room (13), whose construction resembled the rest of the building, was revealed next to the northeastern corner of the building. A habitation level consisting of loess mixed with ash (L742) and placed on the bedrock was exposed in the room. The finds in the habitation level and the collapse above it (L717) included several fragmentary pottery vessels, among them a bowl (Fig. 6:3) and a krater (Fig. 6:12) that dated to the Late Byzantine and the Early Islamic periods. It seems that another large built space (14) was south of Room 13. A section of another wall (W207), which might have delimited Space 14 from the south, was exposed next to the southeastern corner of the building. Several fragments of pottery vessels were discovered on the surface of Space 14 and in the collapse (L746, L750), including a LRC bowl rim (Fig. 6:2) and a fragment of a flask (Fig. 6:37) that dated to the Late Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. A room (4; c. 12 sq m) located on the exterior, next to the northwestern corner of the building, was exposed in 1977.
The Glass Finds
Several fragments of glass vessels and glass bracelets were discovered in the excavation. In addition, small non-diagnostic body fragments were discovered. The glass vessel fragments are dated to the Early Islamic period, the Umayyad and the beginning of the Abbasid periods (Fig. 9:1–7). The glass bracelets are dated to the Late Mamluk and Ottoman period (Fig. 9:8–10). The decision to publish this assemblage stems from its Early Islamic composition, particularly a fragment of a mold-blown vessel that belongs to a group of rare and special vessels that are mainly known from collections (Fig. 9:6).
To date, very few Early Islamic glass assemblages have been published from the Negev, despite the wealth of remains from this period that was exposed in many excavations. A group of bottles dating to the eighth century CE was discovered in an excavation at Horbat Liqit (Laqiya) (HA-ESI 114:97*–98*). Several fragments of glass vessels from the Early Islamic period were discovered in the church at Horbat Karkor ‘Illit (Katsnelson N. 2004. Glass Objects. In P. Figueras. Horvat Karkur ‘Illit, A Byzantine Cemetery Church in the Northern Negev: Final Report of the Excavations 1989-1995 [Beer-Sheva Archaeological Monographs 1]. Be'er Sheva. Pp. 265–291), in excavations at Nizzana (Harden D.B. 1962. Glass. In H.D. Colt, ed. Excavations at Nessana [Auja Hafir, Palestine] I. London. Pp. 76–91) and in excavations at Tel ‘Ira in the northern Negev (Lehrer-Jacobson G. 1999. Glass Bottles of the Early Islamic Period. In I. Beit-Arieh, ed. Tel 'Ira. A Stronghold in the Biblical Negev [Monograph Series of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University 15]. Pp. 442–444).
Most of the vessels discovered in the excavation are covered with a thick layer of weathering that damaged the side of the vessel, causing severe pitting. Due to the weathering, it is difficult in most instances to determine the original color of the glass. Most of the vessels are simply decorated; based on the material and the manner in which it was done it appears they are a product of the local glass workshop. Fragments of four bottles (Fig. 9:1–4), two decorated body fragments (Fig. 9:5, 6) and a fragment of a mixing stick (Fig. 9:7) were identified. Fragments of four different glass bracelets were discovered in a tomb of a young woman (L792), which cut a floor of the Early Islamic period. Two of the bracelets are of the same type (Fig. 9:8, 9) and the other two are different types (Fig. 9:10; one of them was not drawn). The bracelets date to the Mamluk period.
The bottles in Fig. 9:1, 2 were discovered together (L738) and belong to the same type bottle that has a rim folded inward, a short cylindrical neck and a spherical or oblate body. The typical base of these bottles is low concave or slightly flat. Fragment 1 is made of pale yellow-brown glass, and is covered with silvered weathering that severely damaged and pitted the side of the vessel. The glass is perforated and grooved as a result of the weathering. The rim is folded in unevenly and the connection between the neck and rim is asymmetrical. The second bottle consists of three fragments of colorless glass that are covered with thick silvery white pitted weathering and a sandy coating. It is difficult to determine the color of the vessel due to the thick weathering. The side is very thin. The rim is almost complete and folded inward unevenly. The shoulder is square and it is unclear if this is a flaw or if the vessel was ribbed. Both the quality of the material and the level of craftsmanship are relatively poor.
The bottle in Fig. 9:3 (L786) includes a neck, shoulder and part of the body. It is made of greenish blue glass and is covered with pitted silvered weathering and brown weathering stains. Two of the bottle’s features are noteworthy: its ridged neck, which is made of sections of a sort and whose bottom two were preserved, and the square cross-section, of which three ribs survived. The quality of the glass is poor. Small bottles with a square cross-section are very common in the Abbasid period; many of them were decorated in a variety of ways and there are those that have no decorations on the body and their neck is made of sections.
The rim of the bottle in Fig. 9:4 (L762) is made of pale green glass with olive green veins. The glass is inhomogeneous and filled with black impurities and bubbles. The fragment is covered with silvery and gold weathering. The material is of poor quality and the workmanship is slipshod. The rim is inverted and rounded. The neck is unevenly ridged and the side is relatively thin. Bottles with a ridged neck, which have several horizontal ridges, occur in the Umayyad period and continue to appear in the Abbasid period as well. Bottles of this type were discovered in large numbers throughout the country, including the Negev (Gorin-Rosen Y. 2010. Chapter 10: The Islamic Glass Vessels. In O. Gutfeld. Ramla: The Excavations North of the White Mosque [Qedem 51]. Jerusalem. Pp. 233–235, Pl. 10.6:7–10). Two fragments of vessels made of blue glass and a tiny fragment of a hollow base ring of a wine goblet were discovered in the same basket together with Bottle 4.
The fragment in Fig. 9:5 (L726) is a body fragment adorned with a broad wavy trail of uneven width that is characteristic of the decoration on the neck of large bottles and jugs from the Umayyad period. This is one of the prominent features of the period (Gorin-Rosen 2010:224, Pls.10.1:14, 10.2:8, 12). It was not possible to discern the color of the glass because of a layer of hard pitted weathering. There is a sandy encrustation on top of the layer of weathering. The neck of the vessel is cylindrical and the wall thickness is uneven.
The body fragment in Fig. 9:6 was blown in a mold with an intricate pattern (L762). The glass is colorless and covered with silvery black weathering. The side is exceptionally thin. The pattern is unclear; however, this fragment seems to belong to the group of square/hexagonal vessels decorated with different motifs and Jewish, Christian and other symbols, which are referred to as eulogia vessels. These vessels date to the Late Byzantine period (Israeli Y. 2003. Ancient Glass in the Israel Museum: The Eliahu Dobkin Collection and Other Gifts. Jerusalem. Pp. 270–271) and according to recent studies it is now clear that they continued to appear in the beginning of the Early Islamic period. The discovery of this type of vessel in an excavation of a rural settlement in the Negev, in an assemblage attributed to the beginning of the Early Islamic period, is important both for understanding the geographic distribution of the type and for corroborating the dating of the group, which also continues into the eighth century CE.
The fragment in Fig. 9:7 is a pointed end of a mixing stick (L773). The glass has a greenish blue color and is decorated with a dark blue trail woven through it. The mixing stick is thin compared to other sticks; its cross-section is round and the end is pointed. Glass mixing sticks appear already in the Roman period, mostly in burial assemblages, and they date to the first century CE. They reappear after a gap at the beginning of the Early Islamic period. Mixing sticks were discovered, among others, in excavations at Ramla, Bet She’an and Tiberias (Gorin-Rosen 2010:254, Pl.10.11:7, 8).
The bracelets in Fig. 9:8 (L766), 9 (L792) belong to a multicolored type of bracelet that has a D-shaped cross-section and a prominent knob. The bracelet is made of a dark colored glass hoop and has large patches of yellow glass and a delicate trail that encircles the bracelet above the patches. The inside of the bracelet is flat and the outside is convex. These bracelets are known in the Mamluk period (Spaer M. 1992. The Islamic Bracelets of Palestine: Preliminary Findings. JGS 34:44–62, Type D3  d, p. 52, 55, Fig. 13).
The bracelet in Fig. 9:10 was discovered together with the former bracelet (Fig. 9:9). This bracelet fragment is made of dark glass, decorated with a glass trail occurring in various shades of yellow.
Another bracelet, not drawn, was discovered together with the bracelet in Fig. 9:8. It is made of dark colored glass, covered with gold and white weathering and is undecorated. It has a D-shaped cross-section.
A large building dating to the Early Islamic period was exposed in the excavation. The size of the structure, the manner of its construction, including a portico, and its location at the top of a spur that overlooks the region, seems to indicate the importance of the building. It was probably a villa rustica or a farmhouse belonging to a wealthy individual. Presumably, the building was constructed in the Late Byzantine period (seventh century CE) and was used until the Abbasid period (late eighth century CE). It was apparently abandoned in an orderly manner and after a period of time, ash pits were dug in its ruins, e.g., in the courtyard and Rooms 2 and 7. During the Mamluk period, a young woman was buried in Room 5, causing damage to the wall and floor of the room.