In May 2013, a trial excavation was conducted at ‘Elabbon (Permit No. A-6783; map ref. 23769–79/74975–85; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of a sewer line. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Peleg Ha-Galil Water and Sewage Corporation, Ltd., was directed by G. Cinamon (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), A. Shapiro (surveying and GPS), D. Avshalom-Gorni (scientific guidance), E. Stern (ceramics), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing) and laborers from Kafr Kanna, Tur‘an, Bu‘eine Nujeidat and Tiberias.
Six squares (1–6; c. 150 sq m; Fig. 2) were opened in the excavation, midway up the western slope of the spur where the ancient core of the village is situated; this part of the settlement is densely built-up with stone houses. Judging by the marks made by mechanical equipment on the bedrock in the excavation area (Fig. 3) it seems that previous development work damaged ancient remains. Rock-cuttings, as well as pottery sherds from the Iron Age II, and the Roman, Byzantine, Mamluk and Ottoman periods, were discovered in the excavation.
Rock-cuttings were found in several of the excavation squares, suggesting that this area was used in antiquity as a quarry for building stones. In Sq 1, for example, the negative quarry remains of a detached building stone (0.3 × 0.5 m; Fig. 4) could be discerned. Body fragments of storage vessels, serving vessels and cooking vessels dated to the Iron Age II (tenth–ninth centuries BCE), Roman (second–fourth centuries CE) and Byzantine (fourth century CE) periods were discovered in the excavation squares. Most of the ceramic finds date from the Mamluk period (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE) and include coarse, hand-made kraters (Fig. 5:1–3), a greenish-brown glazed krater with a handle (Fig. 5:4), coarse glazed kraters (Fig. 5:5), hemispheric bowls with a yellow and pale green glaze on the inside (Fig. 5:6), glazed bowls with a straight wall (Fig. 5:7, 8) and hemispheric bowls slipped white on the inside and on the rim, glazed green or greenish-brown on the inside and painted on the outside (Fig. 5:9, 10). Ottoman-period pottery was also discovered, including hemispheric bowls glazed both on the inside and outside, probably dating from the sixteenth–seventeenth centuries CE (Fig. 6:1); a cooking pot with a short neck, globular body and ledge rim (Fig. 6:2), dating from the fourteenth–sixteenth centuries CE; a pithos (Fig. 6:3) probably dating from the sixteenth–seventeenth centuries CE; store jars characterized by a thickened rim and ridges on the neck (Fig. 6:4, 6), including a Gaza Ware jar made of dark gray fabric (Fig. 6:4); and a jar with thumb-indented ridges on the neck (Fig. 6:7).
The ceramic artifacts show for the first time that ‘Elabbon was already inhabited in the Iron Age II. It seems that the settlement in the Roman and Byzantine periods extended across the entire spur. On the basis of the pottery recovered in the excavation there was apparently a hiatus in the habitation of the site that spanned the Early Islamic period. The site was resettled during the Mamluk period and continues to this day.
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