During April–May 1999 a salvage excavation was conducted at Moshav Zippori (Permit No. A-3048*; map ref. NIG 2263/7395; OIG 1763/2395), in the wake of damage caused to antiquities while digging foundations for an electric pole, c. 150 m south of the Monastery of Anne and Joachim. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the Electric Company, was directed by A. Oshri, assisted by V. Essman (surveying), E. Belashov (drafting) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
Two strata were discerned. An upper layer (depth 1.7 m) of homogenous black clay was devoid of stones and contained fragments of glazed pottery vessels from the twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE. Two wall foundations of a building in Saffuriya, an Arab village that existed until 1948, were excavated into this layer.
The corner of a building from the Late Roman–Early Byzantine period (Fig. 1) was exposed in the lower layer, which consisted of reddish-brown soil. Three floor levels were discerned in the building, whose walls (W3, W4) were preserved eight courses high (c. 2 m).
Floor I was the latest plaster floor, overlaid with fragments of pottery vessels that included bowls (Fig. 2:2, 5), a cooking krater (Fig. ), kraters (Fig. 2:8, 11), cooking pots (Fig. , 14) and jars (Fig. , 19). A layer of ash on the floor may be indicative of a conflagration that caused the destruction of the building.
Floor II was a plaster floor paved with pieces of stone along its edges, next to the W3. The plaster covered and sealed a stone vat from Floor III.
Floor III was the earliest floor, set on bedrock into which a stone vat (diam. 0.50 m, depth 0.65) was somewhat embedded and may have been used for crushing or storage. Fragments of a bowl (Fig. 2:4) and a jar (Fig. ) were found.
The potsherds from all of the building’s phases were homogenous and probably represented a short period of time from the first half of the fourth century until the second half of the fifth century CE. The recovered pottery included ‘Sikhin’ kraters, dating to the fourth century CE (Fig. 2:6–10), several fragments of Late Roman Red bowls (Fig. 2:1–5), ribbed jar sherds, some of which were decorated with a white wash (Fig. –20), an amphora (Fig. ) and a flask (Fig. ), as well as fragments of glass vessels.
Numerous pieces of raw glass, some quite large, were retrieved from the plastered floors and are probably indicative of a glass workshop in the nearby vicinity.