In October–November 2016, an excavation was undertaken at Kafr Yasif (Permit No. A-7821; map ref. 2150–10/7620–03; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was conducted by H. Aboud-Abu ‘Uqsa (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), R. Liran (surveying and drafting), I.E. Delerson (plans), J. Gosker (metal), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery and glass drawing) and K. Kovello-Paran and N. Getzov (consultation).
The excavation (c. 75 sq m), which was opened in the southwestern part of Kafr Yasif, revealed remains of three buildings (I–III; Fig. 2) and a long wall (W123), both founded on bedrock. The pottery was dated mainly to the Byzantine period, and the glass finds (Gorin-Rosen, see below)—to the late Byzantine and early Umayyad periods.
Guérin (1987:3) documented ashlars and cisterns at the site. Past surveys and excavations in the vicinity revealed construction remains from the Hellenistic and Byzantine–Mamluk periods and sherds dating from the Persian to Mamluk periods (Aviam 1998; Frankel et al. 2001: Site 33; Syon and Stern 2014 [Fig. 1: A-3272]; Zedan 2017 [Fig. 1: A-7595]; Sánchez Streger 2020a [Fig. 1: A-8683], and see there further references and permits numbers of excavations in the vicinity; Sánchez Streger 2020b [Fig. 1: A-8423]; Permit Nos. A-6013, A-7650).
Building I comprises two wall segments (W104, W113: Figs. 3, 4) that form a corner. They were built of dressed stones on the outer face and worked stones on the inner face. Wall 113 featured a threshold (width c. 1 m) with a rock-cut socket. In front of the doorway was a crushed limestone floor (L111).
Building II comprises two wall segments (W108, W1140; Fig. 5) that form a corner. They were built of dressed stones on the outer face and worked stones on the inner face; a threshold stone was incorporated in W108 in secondary use. West of W108 was a crushed limestone floor (L106). The southeastern part of W114 was built on top of a rock-cut installation (L121). A cistern was discovered inside the corner formed by the two walls; its upper part was built, and its lower part was rock cut. A crushing stone from an olive oil press in secondary served as the cistern’s opening. The cistern was found empty down to a depth of 3.5 m; it was not excavated further down. A covered water channel (W115) led water to the cistern. Around the cistern’s opening was an area that had been covered with crushed limestone (Fig. 6), probably to facilitate water collection. South of Channel 115 was another crushed limestone floor (L120), on which a coin from the Late Roman period (324–408 CE; IAA 162929) was found.
Building III. The top of a wall (W110; Figs. 7, 8) and a patch of a crushed limestone floor (L117) that abutted the wall on the east were uncovered. Dressed building stones were found in a heap of debris on the floor.
Wall 123. The top of this wall could be discerned on the surface running in a northeast–southwest direction (length c. 12.5 m; Fig. 2); its northern end was not excavated. The wall was founded on the bedrock, and a feature that may have been a stone floor was found at its southern end. Although this wall appears to have been part of a large structure, it cannot be associated with any of the buildings uncovered in the excavation.
The pottery from the excavation dates from the Byzantine period, apart from two Hellenistic sherds. The latter belong to rims of straight-shouldered jars (Fig. 9:1 ,2); they were found on the bedrock. The finds from the Byzantine period include imported bowls (Fig. 9:3–10), closed cooking pots (Fig. 9:11, 12), open cooking pots (Fig. 9:13, 14), a cooking pot lid (Fig. 9:15), jars (Fig. 9:16–20), amphorae (Fig. 9:21, 22) and lamps (Fig. 9:23, 24).
A metal plate (length 7 cm, width 1 cm, thickness 1 mm; Fig. 10) made of a copper alloy was found on the surface. The plate, which was curved and had a thickened back (2 mm), was probably used as a blade. Given that most of the pottery from the excavation is dated to the Byzantine period and none of the finds are later than this period, the blade should probably be dated to this period as well. Blades in the Byzantine period were usually made of iron; as this blade is made of a copper alloy, it probably served for some delicate use or a one that required a rust-resistant tool.
The excavation yielded 140 glass fragments, 50 of which were identified and dated. Most of the fragments belong to vessels, and 12 of them are industrial glass waste. Glass finds were discovered throughout most of the excavated areas. The vessel fragments were dated to the late Byzantine and early Umayyad periods (late sixth and seventh centuries CE). Glass vessels from these periods were discovered also in previous excavations at Kafr Yasif (Gorin-Rosen 2010; 2014).
Glass vessels. This group of vessels includes a large bowl, wineglasses, bowl lamps and bottles. The large bowl has a folded, hollow rim (Fig. 11:1) and is made of greenish blue glass covered with hard, sandy encrustation. The wineglasses include plain, slightly inverted and fire-rounded rims, one of which is a delicate rim (Fig. 11:2) made of greenish blue glass covered with silvery weathering and sandy encrustation; everted, fire-rounded rims decorated with horizontal trails darker in color than the vessel that are wound on and under the rim, including a light greenish blue rim with dark turquoise trails (Fig. 11:3)—two thick strips, one on the edge of the rim and the other below it, and a thin trail wound twice between them; and wineglasses with a hollow ring base and a partly hollow stem with the remains of a pontil scar (Fig. 11:4), made of greenish blue glass covered with silvery weathering and sandy encrustation. The bowl lamps (Fig. 11:5) have a solid, cylindrical and beaded stem made of greenish blue glass covered with silvery weathering and and iridescence, and the base bears a pontil scar that truncated its end. Also found were rounded bottle rims (Fig. 11:6) made of greenish blue glass covered with some sandy encrustation; bottles or jugs with a funnel-mouth (Fig. 11:7) made of light greenish glass covered with silvery weathering, pitting and sandy encrustation, decorated with a delicate trail under the rim of the same color as the vessel; as well as bottles with inverted rims with necks decorated with horizontal trails and pushed-in bases of plain bottles (not drawn). Wineglass bases and stemmed lamps resembling those in this assemblage were found in excavations at ‘Akko, where they were dated to the Byzantine and early Umayyad periods (Katsnelson 2016:82–84, Fig. 3.9:57, 59, 60).
All the types of glass vessels found in the excavation are well known from late Byzantine-period assemblages in the Galilee and elsewhere. A similar assemblage from Ahihud (Permit No. A-6895) features all the types depicted above, as well as a large quantity of industrial glass waste. The vessels found in the current excavation may have been manufactured in one of the workshops whose remains were found in the many of the excavations carried out in the village, or they may have been made in another workshop, such as the one found at Ahihud. It is also possible that each village had its own small workshop for manufacturing glass for local consumption.
Industrial glass waste. The excavation yielded clean chunks of raw glass intended for melting in a kiln prior to the production of vessels and objects. These chunks are of various forms, but most are triangular in section. Medium-sized and small greenish blue chunks were found in Loci 101, 102, 107, 111, 117 and 119. Two raw glass chunks were found with a layer of limestone and waste from the wall of a kiln (L101). Three deformed vessel fragments were also found; it is unclear whether these are wasters from a glass workshop or vessels that were deformed by heat from some other source. No clear evidence was found of glass-blowing waste, nor were there any in situ remains of furnaces.
There is a great deal of evidence—almost from every excavation that was carried out in Kafr Yasif—that points to the presence of a glass industry at the site during the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. An examination of these finds leads to the conclusion that this industry consisted of two phases of production: primary production—kilns for manufacturing raw glass; and secondary production—furnaces for manufacturing vessels and objects (for a summary on the subject and further references, see Gorin-Rosen 2014). The waste was found with glass vessels dated to the Byzantine and the early Umayyad periods. The finds from the present excavation confirm the existence of a glass industry that produced vessels and objects during the Byzantine period in Kafr Yasif.
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