In December 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted on the outskirts of Khirbat Jannaba et-Tahta, near Ha-‘Ella Junction (Permit No. A-7274; map ref. 194999–5037/621414–562; Fig. 1), prior to widening Highway 38, which intersects the site. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y. Tsur, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), Y. Yolowitz (photography), M. Kahan (surveying and drafting) and N. Zak (plans).
Two cisterns, c. 70 m apart (L302 in the north and L400 in the south), which were damaged in the 1970s during the construction of Highway 38, were excavated. For safety reasons the cisterns were not completely excavated. Cistern 302 (diam. 2.8 m; Figs. 2, 3) consisted of two parts (L301, L304). Its surface was coated with light-gray plaster mixed with charcoal inclusions, pottery body-sherds and grog (Fig. 4); its opening was not preserved. The southern and western sides of the cistern wall were curved. A wall (W302) built of roughly hewn stones was exposed west of the cistern and apparently functioned as a retaining wall. Silt, collapsed building stones, and several pottery sherds dating to the Byzantine period, were discovered in the cistern. Cistern 400 (diam. 2.4 m, max. preserved depth 2 m; Figs. 5, 6) was round, and only the southern and northern sides of its wall were preserved; its western side and its opening did not survive. The surface was coated with light gray plaster (thickness 2 cm) mixed with bits of charcoal, body fragments of pottery vessels and red grog (Fig. 7). Silt and collapsed building stones (L401) were discovered inside it, and several pottery sherds dating to the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE) were recovered. It seems that the two cisterns were part of a large water system that served the local residents during the Byzantine period.
Previous excavations at the site uncovered remains of a religious structure with mosaic floor and an inscription from the sixth century CE (Dauphine 1976
), settlement remains dating to the fifth–eighth centuries CE (Avner 1995
), a ritual bath (miqveh
) containing pottery from the second century CE and a rock-hewn water reservoir, which probably dates to the third–fourth centuries CE (Permit No. A-7179).
Avner R. 1997. Khirbet Jannaba et-Tahta. ESI 16:114–117.
Dauphin C. 1976. Khirbet Jannaba et-Tahta. HA 57–58:27 (Hebrew).