In March 2017, a brief educational excavation was conducted at Horbat ‘En Nashut (Permit No. A-7943; map ref. 264990/768750; Fig. 1). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by O. Zingboym and R. Assis, with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), K. Covello-Paran (scientific guidance), R. Liran (surveying) and students from Mazkeret Batya, residents of Qidmat Zvi and laborers. The excavation was part of the activities of students participating in the Ministry of Education’s Shelah (Field-Nation-Society) program.
The site was first surveyed by Y. Gal in 1969, and in 1971 it was surveyed by S. Bar-Lev and M. Hartal (Ben-Ari 1972
; Urman 1972
; Fig. 2). A plentiful spring flows c. 800 m to the north of the site, as do several small springs at its foot. The surveys identified building remains, two oil presses and a synagogue.
The synagogue, excavated in 1978–1979 (Maoz 1993), was built in the fifth century CE on a terrace at the northwest end of the settlement; remains unearthed beneath it were dated to the third–fourth centuries CE. The synagogue had particularly fine basalt architectural elements decorated with geometric and vegetal motifs, images of animals, of a seven-branched menorah, of an altar and of a nine-branched menorah. Inscriptions, coins and pottery were also found. The building was renovated in the sixth century CE and continued to be used until the end of the sixth or early in the seventh century CE. Ornamental elements that originally came from the synagogue were taken to the villages of ed-Danqala and ‘En Samsam, including a stone with a relief of a person raising his arms in prayer flanked by lions and eagles, as well as a pillar base and a capital, both decorated with a seven-branched menorah.
In 1985, an oil press that operated during the fourth–sixth centuries CE was excavated in the southern part of the site (Ben David 1998:5–12). The oil press was located inside a building: on one side were a crushing basin (yam) and stone (memmel) for pulverizing the olives, and the other side had a base for a screw press and a collecting vat for extracting and storing the oil. To the south of the site, on the south bank of Nahal Meshushim, lies the cemetery of the ancient settlement, which was discovered by chance during the construction of a military facility. The cemetery yielded the lids of two sarcophagi with inscriptions in Aramaic and Greek, as well as five fragments of the covering slabs of a cist grave or a coffin.
The current excavation comprised two areas on in the northeast part of the settlement, where remains of an oil press and a massive building were unearthed. The site was abandoned in the seventh century CE and was never repopulated, leaving the settlement’s plan and architectural remains visible on the surface.
Area A: Oil Press (Figs. 3, 4). A crushing basin and the tops of walls were visible on the surface in an area that was probably on the northeastern fringes of the settlement’s built-up area. The oil press was cleaned; it seems that the crushing stone (diam. 1.8 m) remained in situ. It was surrounded by walls (W1–W6) built of undressed basalt stones, some consisting of one row of stones, and others—of two. Due to the limited extent of the excavation, the plan of the building is not clear, but W1 and W2 probably form its southwest corner. The pottery dates from the fourth–sixth centuries CE.
Area B: A Building (Figs. 5, 6). Prior to the excavation, the tops of two walls were visible on the surface (W1, W2). The walls, built of roughly dressed basalt stones, formed the corner of a building. The excavation unearthed two additional walls (W3, W4) that ran parallel to them. These seem to belong to a later construction phase, as they served to buttress Walls 1 and 2; the space between the two sets of walls was filled with small stones. This created a corner of a massive structure whose walls are visible for c. 25 m beyond the excavation area (Fig. 6). A small section of the building was excavated in its northeast corner, which was slightly raised above the surrounding area. The nature of two wall stumps (W5, W6), also visible on the surface, could not be determined. It is unclear when the building was constructed, but based on its location, size and construction style, it was probably a public building.
The excavation cleaned and made a start on unearthing an oil press and the remains of a public building, which existed at the site in addition to the previously excavated synagogue. The massive structure and the rich finds found at the site in the past attest to the strength of the Jewish settlement that thrived here until the beginning of the seventh century CE.
Ben Ari M. 1973. The Golan: The Synagogue at ‘En Nashut. HA 45:1 (Hebrew).
Ben David H. 1998. Oil Presses and Oil Production in the Golan in the Mishnaic and Talmudic Periods. ‘Atiqot 34:1–61 (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 5*–6*)
Maoz Z. 1993. ‘En Nashut. In NEAEHL 2. Pp. 412–414.
Urman D. 1972. The Golan: Edriah. HA 41–42:1 (Hebrew).