In June 2020, a salvage excavation was conducted in el-Makr (Permit No. A-8759; map ref. 213143–60/759693–724; Fig. 1) after ancient remains were uncovered in trial trenches. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by A. Fedly, was directed by J.A. Sánchez Streger, with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), R. Be’eri (scientific guidance), A. Ibrahim (photography and photogrammetry), Y. Alexandre (pottery), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), H. Tahan-Rosen (finds drawing), G. Cinamon, archaeologists from the western Galilee district and laborers from Kabul.
The village of Kafr el-Makr lies in the western Galilee, approximately 5 km east of ‘Akko. Previous excavations and surveys in the village uncovered remains from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods, with most of the remains dating from the Byzantine period (Frankel et al. 2001:11, Site 18). Finds in the village include the remains of a church (Tzafiris 2001 [Fig. 1: A-728]), burial caves (Lieberman and Avi‘am 1994 [Fig. 1: A-1789]; Segal 1999; Shaked 1995 [Fig. 1: A-2023]), wall remains (Avi‘am 1999 [Fig. 1: A-2465]; Permit Nos. A-8015, A-8051) and quarries (Abu Raya 2015 [Fig. 1: A-7037]).
The current excavation area (3 × 8 m; Fig. 2) revealed a stone quarry (Stratum II), over which an industrial installation, probably a winepress (Stratum I), was erected after it was abandoned; three phases of activity were identified in the installation. The pottery dates the installation to the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE).
The quarry, parts of which were visible on the surface in the northeast of the area, contained stone-severance marks (Fig. 3). The quarry cannot be dated, but as it predates the overlying installation, it was probably in use earlier in the Byzantine period or possibly prior to that date. Other quarries were found previously in the vicinity (Abu Raya 2015).
Phase 3. A long, central wall (W100; Fig. 4) was built so that its northern part ran along the same alignment as that of the quarry. A single course of the wall was uncovered on the bedrock; at the southern end of the wall, where the bedrock dips to a lower elevation, four courses were revealed. The wall was abutted by a stone paving (L109) and by a mosaic floor (L117) of relatively large tesserae.
Phase 2. Wall 100 from the earlier phase continued to be used, and two additional walls were built (W108, W114; see Fig. 4). Wall 108 cut into W100 and canceled Mosaic Floor 117 (Fig. 5). Of W114, perpendicular to W108, only the foundation course was preserved; the alignment and construction method of W114 differed from those of W100, and it was probably a ‘new’ wall built along the same general alignment as that of W100. A mosaic floor (L101) abutted an upper course—now missing—of W114 (see Fig. 4), W108 and two walls to the south and east, which were not preserved. The mosaic floor was made of rather large tesserae laid in straight rows, and it was coated with plaster; it contained a visible repair (L102).
Another mosaic floor (L105; see Fig. 3) was revealed in the north of the area, in a hewn corner of the earlier quarry. The mosaic had a frame comprising three rows of rather large tesserae aligned with the quarry steps, with diagonal rows in the center. Most of the tesserae were white, with darker tesserae laid between them, possibly to create a decorative pattern. The mosaic bedding contained fieldstones.
Phase 1. A small part of a mosaic floor (L103) was uncovered in the southeast of the excavation area. Because of its proximity to the repair (L102), it may belong to Phase 2, but the considerable height difference between the two floors suggests that Floor 103 should be attributed to a separate phase.
The pottery assemblage from the installation includes numerous bowls (Fig. 6:1–4), cooking ware (Fig. 6:5–7) and jars (Fig. 6:8–10), as well as amphorae fragments and a juglet (not drawn). The ware is both local and imported, and it dates from the second half of the fifth–second half of the sixth centuries CE. A glass bead was found in an accumulation layer (L113) between W108 and W114.
A poorly preserved glass bead (L113, Basket 1014; Fig. 7) was recovered along with two undiagnostic body fragments of a glass vessel. The face of the bead is covered with weathering and pitting; some of it has greenish gray weathering spots, and both ends are severely pitted. The bead is made of poor-quality glass containing impurities. It is cylindrical but asymmetric—it is narrower at the ends—and has a wide perforation. The glass is dark and appears black. It is decorated with a thin white glass trail wound horizontally around it. In two places, the trails are drawn upward at a certain point to form a pattern. The bead is roughly worked, and the pattern is not uniform throughout. The poor quality of the glass combined with the slipshod workmanship suggest that the bead was locally produced.
Beads of this type, decorated with trails in a variety of patterns, are well-known in burial assemblages dated to the third–fifth centuries CE and are found across a wide geographic area, such as the beads found in Tomb 16 at Castra (Spaer 2001:102–103, Fig. 47, two top right-hand rows). A bead of this type with a slightly different bi-colored trail decoration was found in Burial Cave 3 at Kisra, which dates from the fourth–early fifth centuries CE (Stern 1997:17*, Fig. 14:75).
The question remains as to how the bead reached the accumulation layer. Was it part of a fill in a habitation level in this building or in an adjacent building? Is it a finished product that was traded, or a bead that was rejected in the workshop and reached a refuse pile? One possibility is that local residents used poor-quality beads from a nearby workshop that sold damaged goods unfit for marketing elsewhere.
Glassware and beads of various types and qualities dating from the Late Roman period were found in burial complexes previously excavated at Kafr el-Makr (unpublished).
Avi‘am M. 1999. Kafr el-Makr. HA-ESI 110:88*.
Lieberman R. and Avi‘am M. 1994. El-Makr. ESI 12:111–112.
Segal A. 1999. Kafr el-Makr. HA-ESI 110:10*–11*.
Tzafiris V. 2001. Kafr el-Makr. HA-ESI 113:11*.
Stern E. 1997. Burial Caves at Kisra. ‘Atiqot 33:103–135 (Hebrew; English summary, p. 17*).
Shaked A. 1997. Kafr Makr. ESI 16:29.
Frankel R., Getzov N., Aviam M. and Degani A. 2001. Settlement Dynamics and Regional Diversity in Ancient Upper Galilee: Archaeological Survey of Upper Galilee (IAA Reports 14). Jerusalem.
Spaer M. 2001. Ancient Glass in the Israel Museum: Beads and Other Small Objects. Jerusalem.