In January–February 2018, a trial excavation was carried out at Horbat Hermesh (Permit No. A-8193; map ref. 206199–364/727826–979; Fig. 1), prior to laying a water line. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and funded by the Mekorot Water Company, was directed by L. Talmi, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), A. Dagot (GPS), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), D. Kirzner (photography), P. Gendelman (pottery), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), N. Zak (plan) and K. Sa‘id, district archaeologist. A. Oshri conducted test probes at the site prior to excavation.
Horbat Hermesh extends over a spur that descends eastward toward Naḥal Yoqne‘am on the eastern slopes of Mount Carmel. The ruin was surveyed in the past as part of the Daliya Map Survey, revealing building remains, installations and tombs, as well as sherds from the Persian, Hellenistic, Byzantine, the Early Islamic and Crusader periods (Olami 1981: Site 41). About 500 m north of the excavation are Me‘arot Elyaqim, a cluster of burial caves with arcosolia and kokhim, one of which has a Samaritan or Aramean inscription in Early Hebrew script (Olami 1981: Site 40). A 1994 excavation conducted c. 700 m south of the ruin uncovered a winepress and a mosaic floor from the Byzantine period (Oshri 1998), and a 2008 excavation conducted c. 650 m southeast of the ruins uncovered dwellings remains and four copper axes from the Intermediate Bronze Age (Permit No. A-5382).
Six excavation squares were opened on the northeastern slope of the spur (Fig. 2); the squares were excavated down to bedrock. Heaps of fieldstones were uncovered (Fig. 3)—perhaps the remains of agricultural terraces built on the outskirts of the ruin—and soil accumulations. The excavated soil accumulations (L106, L107, L112, L113, L115) contained pottery sherds from the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman–Abbasid periods. Accumulations 107 and 112 included hemispherical bowls (Fig. 4:1, 2), mortaria (Fig. 4:3, 4), a cooking pot (Fig. 4:5) and jars (Fig. 4:6–8), all dated to the Persian and Hellenistic periods. Accumulations 106, 113 and 115 contained a jar from the Roman period (Fig. 4:9), jars from the Byzantine period (Fig. 4:10, 11) and a jar from the Abbasid period (Fig. 4:12). The area of the excavation had apparently served as a refuse heap. The results of the excavation expand our knowledge of Horbat Hermesh and the area it covers.
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