Three areas (A, B, C; Fig. 2) were opened along the route slated for widening the road. In Area A, pit graves from the Ottoman period (Stratum 1) and two phases of a funerary structure from the Late Roman-Byzantine period (Stratum 2a–b) were exposed, and remains of another building and a sealed cist grave were documented. Stone quarries and an installation were excavated in Area B, and field walls, a burial cave and a stone quarry were documented in Area C.
Area A (Fig. 3). A northern and a southern building complexes were uncovered in the western part of the excavation. Two strata (2a–b, 1) were exposed in the northern complex. In the early stratum (2a) a rock-hewn tomb (L128), whose top was sealed with a large building stone that was especially hewn for this purpose, was discovered. The tomb, except for its northern side, was enclosed by ashlar walls two courses high (W104–106; Fig. 4). A notch was discovered on the western side of the covering stone, and a corresponding notch was found at the edge of the tomb (Fig. 5). An arcosolium containing human bones was exposed at a depth of c. 1 m (see Eshed below).
In the late phase (2b) the burial structure was expanded to include two more rooms (L110, L112). W104 was extended, and new walls (W102, W107, W109, W111), also built of ashlars and medium and large fieldstones, were constructed. They were preserved to a height of three courses (Fig. 6). A stone paving (L103) made of medium and large slabs, which was apparently the courtyard of the building, abutted Wall 111. The two building phases and the tomb are ascribed to the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. A Samaritan lamp (Fig. 7) that dates to the Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE) was discovered in the fill inside the building.
In Stratum 1, pit graves dating to the Ottoman period and oriented east–west were exposed inside the rooms of the building (L110, L112) and west of W109 (Fig. 8). Some of the graves were built of small and medium fieldstones and lined with medium and large stone slabs (Fig. 9), and some were covered with a row of medium-size fieldstones, and were not lined.
The southern complex was discovered when mechanical equipment cleared the ground. Tops of walls (W116, W118, W123, W124) of a building which was constructed of medium and large ashlars were documented (Fig. 10). An apse coated with white plaster (L127; Fig. 11) was exposed in W123; on either side of the apse stood bases for the marble chancel-screen that adorned it. An architectural element in the shape of a shell (Fig. 12), which apparently decorated the ceiling of the apse, was uncovered in the accumulations.
Part of a threshold was uncovered in W118, and a section of a step (L120), which was made of medium-size fieldstones and abutted the wall from the north. North of the building was a cist tomb (L129; Fig. 13; see Eshed below), which was sealed with a large stone that was especially hewn for the purpose. The space between the stone and the entrance to the tomb was sealed with small and medium fieldstones and gray mortar. A lead sarcophagus was discovered in the tomb (Fig. 14). Along the long sides of the sarcophagus runs a decorative strip of grape-tendrils and above it repeated shell motif (Figs. 15, 16). On the narrow side (Figs. 17, 18) is an image of Eros standing under an aedicule
—an arch supported by two columns—holding a grape cluster in one hand and a hunter’s stick in the other. Above the arch is a shell with two masks on either side of it. Similar sarcophagus was found in a burial trough in H
adera (Rahmani 1999
: Pl. 12, Fig. 22:150), and it seems that the two sarcophagi were manufactured in the same workshop. Judging by the pottery that was discovered in the tomb, the sarcophagus dates to the second–third centuries CE.
In Area B (Fig. 19), which is located 20 m east of Area A, three quarries were exposed, and on their rock surfaces were small rock-cuttings, hewing marks and severance channels. The imprints of two detached stones (1 × 1 m, height 0.4 m) were exposed on the rock surface of the quarry (L200), and on the rock walls, hewing marks and a severance channel were visible. A circular stone still attached to the rock (L203) with hewing marks around it, and two cupmarks (L209—diam. 0.2 m, depth 0.23 m; L210—diam. 0.1 m, depth 0.15 m), were also found. An installation hewn in the soft rock (L202; 1.8 × 2.0 m, depth 1.5 m) was revealed north of the quarries. A wall (W206) built of medium-size fieldstones was exposed in the western side of the installation. It was preserved to a height of four courses, and sealed the entrance to a natural cave. The hewing of the installation was not completed, probably because of the soft limestone rock. No pottery was found.
In Area C a partition wall aligned north–south (W311; length 30 m, width 0.5 m; Figs. 20, 21), which delineated the boundaries of the plot, was documented. A section of a wall running northwest–southeast (W308; length 2. 6 m, width 0.4 m) abutted it from the east. The walls were built of medium and large fieldstones set on brown soil fill.
About 30 m east of W311 was an open burial cave that had been plundered (Figs. 22, 23). Only its rock-hewn anteroom (L306) was excavated. The northern side of the room was enclosed by a wall (W310) built of medium fieldstones. The entrance to the burial chamber was by way of an arched opening (L301; width 1.2 m, height 1.6 m) that corresponded to a flat circular roll-stone (diam. 1.3 m, average thickness 0.3 m). The entrance led to a rectangular burial chamber (c. 4.0 × 4.8 m) with eight loculi hewn in its walls (0.8 × 1.9 m, average height 0.85 m). The cave had tamped-earth floor, on which lay modern debris. The only find was a stone sarcophagus in a loculus hewn in the southern wall of the burial chamber (Fig. 24). A medium-size stone-quarry (L309; Figs. 25, 26) consisting of two quarrying steps (Fig. 27), was documented above the cave. Hewing marks and severance channels (width 0.11 m) were visible on the rock walls. The quarrying steps allowed access to almost every corner and side of the stone while it was being quarried. The imprints of stones that had been detached from the rock (0.5–0.7 × 0.8 m, height 0.3 m) were uncovered on the floor of the quarry.
Jars (Fig. 28:1, 2, 4, 5) were found in the fill in Area A, and a jar (Fig. 28:3) was discovered in Area B; all the vessels date to the Byzantine-Umayyad period (fifth–eighth centuries CE). Vessels from the Ottoman period, such as bowls (Fig. 29:1, 2) and a jar (Fig. 29:3) were found in the accumulations in Area A, and a jar (Fig. 29:4), an amphora (Fig. 29:5) and a jug (Fig. 29:6) were found in Area C.
A heap of human bones was found on the eastern side of an arcosolium-like burial structure (L128), at a depth of c. 1 m. It included a skull and long bones, representing at least one individual, not in a primary burial or anatomically articulated. Based on the morphology and measurements of the long bones, the individual was a male, more than fifteen years of age. The burial was apparently disturbed in antiquity and may have been plundered.
A lead sarcophagus containing a single individual, in primary burial and anatomically articulated, was found in a hewn cist-like grave (L129). The individual was interred in a supine position, with the head toward the west and the feet in the east. The morphology of the long bones indicates that the individual was male, and judging by the extent of dental wear, he was 30–40 years of age.
The glass finds were discovered in Area A, and comprised mainly ancient glass-manufacturing debris. Traces of glass debris were found in other salvage excavations at the site (Ayalon, Neidinger and Matthews 1991
; Permit No. A-6037).
Some 70 small chunks of raw glass and glass-manufacturing debris were found in the current excavation, as well as c. 15 very poorly preserved fragments of vessels, among them a small juglet (Fig. 30:1) and a double-kohl bottle (Fig. 30:2) dating to the end of the Late Roman period and the beginning of the Byzantine period, and bowls. The vessels may have been part of funerary offerings that were left in one of the tombs, however since they were found together with glass-manufacturing debris, they cannot be linked directly to the burial structure. If they are not part of the burial assemblage, they date the glass debris.
The small juglet (Fig. 30:1), which was found on the surface in the northern complex, has a very delicate funnel-rim, decorated with a thin trail wound twice below it, and a short neck with a decorative trail surrounding its base; the handle was drawn from the shoulder to below the rim, and folded up. The glass is a very light shade of green, the trail is greenish blue and the handle is the color of the vessel, and made of poor quality glass containing black impurities. The vessel is covered with sandy weathering, silverish and crumbing. Fragments of other glass vessels in this basket (B1003), include bowls with a hollow rim folded out, a fragment of a hollow ring-base of a bowl, an inward folded rim of a bottle and a fragment of a thin, twisted bracelet. Fragments of bowls were also found above the level of walls of the northern complex. Rims and bases of the same types of bowls were found at many sites, in assemblages that date to the end of the Late Roman–beginning of the Byzantine periods, such as at H
‘a, north of Z
ur Natan and other sites in the vicinity (Gorin-Rosen 2012
:53, Fig.2:3, 12, 13).
From the double-kohl bottle
(L108, B1014; Fig. 30:2) only a section of one tube and a small part of the other survived. The glass is greenish blue, covered with silver and white weathering, some of it pitted, and over it sandy encrustation. The vessel is decorated with a turquoise trail wound several times around it; sections of three windings survived. This type of double-kohl bottle
was found in a burial cave at Bet She’an, dated to the end of the Roman–beginning of the Byzantine periods (Gorin-Rosen 2000
:66*, Fig. 2:24). Other examples, decorated with trails the color of the vessel, were found at Caesarea (Israeli 2008
:380, 406, Nos. 128, 129).
Glass-Manufacturing Debris: most of the fragments that were found in the excavation area are small (max. 3 cm); the majority of them are flakes of raw glass, clean of debris from the walls of the kiln. Most of the flakes have a triangular cross-section. The cross-section and fresh fractures distinguish the flakes of raw glass from the waste that underwent further melting in the kiln, and its walls are not sharp. Some of the chunks have a little kiln debris adhering to one side. Three deformed light-greenish blue fragments were also found, two of them with calcareous kiln-debris (L108, B1014; Fig. 30:3). These fragments were found together with the double-kohl bottle
(Fig. 30:2). Three more baskets contain chunks of glass (L100, B1026; Fig. 30:4; L101, B1011; Fig. 30:5; L100, B1003; Fig. 30:6). Figure 30:5 shows a cluster of greenish blue, pale-greenish and greenish yellow flakes, as well as one larger bluish green flake, with remnants of kiln-wall debris (length 3.2 cm). Figure 30:6 shows a cluster of flakes that were found with the small juglet (Fig. 30:1). Most of them are a light-bluish green shade, a few are a greenish, and one is yellowish. Most have a triangular or a square/trapezoidal cross-section; a few have one rounded side, due to exposure to heat during the cooling phase. Given the quantity of debris that has been found at the site so far, this was presumably a glass workshop, similar to workshops like the one that was found at H
‘a (Gorin-Rosen, 2012
The excavated area is part of Khirbat Majdal, and many periods are represented in it. The lead sarcophagus that was discovered on the hilltop in Area A, was dated to the second–third centuries CE by comparison to a sarcophagus that was found in Hadera. The intact Samaritan lamp from the fill overlying the building, reinforces the evidence that this was a Samaritan settlement. The pottery fragments dating to the fifth–sixth centuries CE from inside the building, indicate the continued use of the structure in the Byzantine period, and the ones that date to the seventh–eighth centuries CE attest to the end of the settlement in the late Umayyad period. The pit graves and the Late Ottoman finds inside the building constitute the final phase in Area A, and testify to a Late Ottoman settlement at the site. Stone quarries were exposed in Areas B and C, next to large quarries that were documented and excavated in previous excavations (Permit Nos. A-5435, A-5909), southwest of the current excavation area (Fig. 1). The quarries were important for the economy of the site, because the rock was particularly easy to quarry. The glass artifacts included mainly glass-manufacturing debris and several vessels that date to the end of the Late Roman–beginning of the Byzantine periods. The remains of glass kilns on the eastern slopes of the site (Permit No. A-6037), taken in conjunction with the glass-manufacturing debris, apparently reflect glass production. The absence of architectural finds on the eastern slope (Areas B, C), other than quarries, agricultural installations and burials, indicates that Area A is the eastern limit of the residential area at the site.