Stratum 3. Remains of the earliest stratum were found only in Sq G4: a layer of potsherds embedded in gray-brown clayey soil containing patches of ash (L121; Fig. 3). The pottery dates from the Byzantine period (below) and includes fragments of storage vessels—Gaza jars and bag-shaped jars; cooking ware—pots, kraters and mortaria; and tableware—bowls and jugs. Faunal skeletal remains, glass and a fourth-century CE coin (IAA 162926) were also recovered.
Stratum 2. Strata 3 and 2 were separated by brown soil that contained hardly any finds. A level of potsherds dating from the Byzantine period discovered in Sq G4 (L113; Fig. 3) included an assemblage similar to that described in Stratum 3, dating to the fifth–sixth centuries CE. Faunal skeletal remains and glass finds were also uncovered (Late Roman–Byzantine periods; Ouahnouna, below). Part of a three-walled structure (W106, W107, W110; Fig. 4) was exposed in Sq E4. Its foundations, of which 1–3 foundation courses were preserved, were built of two rows of small–medium fieldstones, with smaller stones between them. The excavation of the tamped hamra soil inside the building (L105) yielded storage vessels, cooking vessels, tableware, animal bones, glass and a fourth-century CE coin (IAA 162923). North of W107, on the same level as its foundation, was a rich layer of potsherds (L108, L120) in the hamra soil. It comprised mostly of storage vessels, cooking ware, and tableware dating from the fifth–seventh centuries CE, as well as two coins, one from 17/18–24/25 CE (IAA 162924) and the other from 351–361 CE (IAA 162925). A wall (W111; Fig. 5) built of two rows of medium-sized fieldstones and preserved to the height of a single course was exposed in Sq D4. A coarse plaster floor (L118) founded on tamped hamra soil, from which only a few potsherds were recovered, abutted the wall on the west. Negatives of a similar floor were discerned east of the wall (L115); the potsherds found above it were mostly fragments of jars from the fifth–seventh centuries CE.
Stratum 1. A segment of a wall (W114; Fig. 5) was unearthed in Sq D4. It was built of two rows of medium-sized fieldstones and ashlars bonded with material containing small stones and was preserved to the height of two courses. The wall ran perpendicular to W111 of Stratum 2 and abutted it on the west, and thus seems to represent a later construction phase, either to form with W111 an additional room or to buttress the foundations of a building which eventually did not survive or extends beyond the excavation area. In any case, the construction of W114 probably cut through Floor 118 of Stratum 2, but due to the poor state of preservation of Floor 118, this could not be ascertained.
A section of a coarse plaster floor (L109; Fig. 6), overlaying dark hamra soil, was exposed in Sq F4. The accumulation (L103) found above the floor yielded pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels, cooking ware and tableware, as well as fragments of roof tiles, glass and a coin from 364–375 CE (IAA 162921). Poorly preserved remains of a floor in Sq G4 (L104; Fig. 7) seem to be the continuation of Floor 109. It yielded pottery and a fragment of a marble vessel dating from the late fourth–late seventh centuries CE, as well as an eighth-century CE Umayyad post-reform coin (IAA 162922).
The ceramic finds from the three strata date from roughly the same period and are therefore described herein typologically.
Tableware. Most of the tableware consists of bowls and jugs. Most of the bowls were imported from the Mediterranean region, including various Phocaean bowls (PRSW; Fig. 8:1, 2) and Cypriot bowls (CRSW; Fig. 8:3, 4). They are characterized by well-levigated orange fabric with a thickened rim that is red-slipped; some are decorated with a linear plastic decoration on the interior and exterior (Hayes 1972: Figs. 71, 82; 2008: Fig. 39; Calderon 2010). A few fragments of jugs with an upright rim and neck were also found. They were made of well-levigated light orange fabric and bear light-colored slip on the exterior. Jugs made of a similar fabric have been found in the coastal plain and in the hill country. A few fragments of FBW jugs were also recovered.
Cooking ware. Cooking pots, cooking kraters, lids for cooking ware, and mortaria were recovered. The mortaria fragments discovered in the excavation are of a local type, with a thickened rim, a thick body and combed decoration. Another type discovered belonged to mortaria produced in northern Syria (Fig. 8: 5), with a square rim and a thick flat base made of dark-brown fabric containing white, brown, gray and orange inclusions (Calderon 2000:149–150, Pl. XXV:78). The cooking pots and kraters were made of orange-red fabric and were used for cooking over an open fire; the vast majority of them were charred from use. The cooking pots (Fig. 8:6, 7) have a closed, mostly straight rim (Vincenz and Sion 2007: Fig. 2) and a ribbed hemispherical body. The casseroles (Fig. 8:8, 9) have a deep, ribbed body, a horizontal handle and a straight rim that is beveled to accommodate a lid (Fig. 8:10; de Vincenz and Sion 2007: Fig. 2).
Storage vessels. Fragments of Gaza jars, bag-shaped jars and amphorae were recovered. Gaza jars (Fig. 8:11, 12) have a typical low rim, no neck, a ribbed shoulder, a cylindrical body and a conical base. The jars are common in Israel in assemblages from the third–seventh centuries CE (Vincenz and Sion 2007:25, Fig. 3:1–4). Some examples had a low, upright rim (Types 1 and 2; Sion 2007: Figs. 3, 8; Majcherek 1995: Pl. 3:1, 2), and others had a low, out-flared rim (Types 3 and 4; Majcherek 1995: Pl. 3:3, 4). The bag-shaped jars (e.g., Fig. 8:13) have a thickened and sometimes out-flared rim, an upright neck that is sometimes thickened in the center, a ribbed shoulder, a wide body and a wide, slightly curved base. Jars of this type were common in the region during the Byzantine period, and examples have been found at nearby Khirbat el-Niʻana (Sion 2007: Fig. 3). A single fragment of an Egyptian-made bag-shaped jar (L108, not drawn) from the Umayyad period was recovered. The bag-shaped and Gaza jars were probably locally made, like those from the pottery kilns recently unearthed in Yavne (Yannai 2014) and nearby Gedera, where many layers of similar jar fragments were found. Fragments of imported amphorae from North Africa and the Aegean Sea were also collected (not drawn). They are characterized by a thick, flaring rim with a ridge beneath it, a thick conical base and are made of a rather light-colored fabric compared to that of local vessels. The imported ware was found along with locally made storage vessels.
Oil lamps. Two local mold-made lamps were found (Fig. 8:14, 15). They bear a pattern resembling Greek letters and palm fronds and are dated to the sixth–seventh centuries CE (Sussman 2017:103–104, Fig. 80).
Roof tiles. Several roof-tile fragments were recovered (not drawn); they were probably imported from Cyprus.
Glass Finds
Brigitte Ouahnouna
About 180 glass shards were found during this excavation. Almost all are very small body fragments (less than 1 × 1 cm). The few diagnostic shards are dated to the Late Roman–Byzantine periods. All the vessels were blown, made of bluish or greenish glass. They bear a silver layer of weathering and iridescence and are generally covered with sand deposits. The glass found in this excavation is similar to Late Roman–early Byzantine glass assemblages from other sites in the region, such as Khirbat el-Ni‘ana, where burials and remains of a glass workshop were discovered (Gorin-Rosen and Katsnelson 2007), and Khirbat el-Fatuna (Jackson-Tal 2007). Six shards are described below (Fig. 9).
No. 1 is a fragment of an out-folded, flared rim with a hollow fold, which belongs to a bowl. Bowls of this type were deep or shallow with curved walls. All known parallels have a low tubular ring base (Gorin-Rosen and Katsnelson 2007:79–80, Fig. 2:2).
Nos. 2 and 3 are fragments of upright rounded rims that belong to bottles. These bottles have generally a wide cylindrical neck and a cylindrical or squat body (Gorin-Rosen and Katsnelson 2007:140, Fig. 35).
No. 4 is a fragment of bottle with a folded-in funnel mouth. This type has an elongated neck and a sloping shoulder (Jackson-Tal 2007: Fig. 3:7).
No. 5 is a fragment of a large bottle with a rounded rim and a funnel-shaped mouth decorated with three thick applied horizontal trails. This group presents variants of bottles that were common during the fifth-sixth centuries (Gorin-Rosen and Katsnelson 2007:100–103, Fig. 13:4).
No. 6 is an almost complete thickened and hollow ring base, pushed in and concave in the center, which belonged to either a beaker or a jug. Such pushed-in bases were common during the Late Roman period (Gorin-Rosen and Katsnelson 2007:93, Fig. 8:11).
The importance of this small assemblage lies in its similarity to vessels at other sites in the region, particularly those found at Khirbat el-Ni‘ana (Gorin-Rosen and Katsnelson 2007).
The three strata exposed in the excavation contained rich finds from the Byzantine period, as well as pottery and glass dating from the Late Roman to the beginning of the Early Islamic period. Remnants of buildings containing domestic artifacts, such as cooking ware and tableware, were discovered in Stratum 2, which was the main occupation stratim. The imported cooking ware and tableware and some of the storage vessels and building materials attest to a population that had trading links with the coastal region, the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, as well as with the interior of the country, where glass and pottery production centers were located. Based on the finds from within the building, the exposed strata probably reflect changes and additions throughout the site’s occupation. One item of pottery and a coin from the beginning of the Early Islamic period may come from a later deposit or may indicate that the site continued to be occupied for a short time during this period.