A single square was excavated, revealing immediately below surface a floor of small tightly packed fieldstones (L103; Fig. 1), spread over the southern half of the square. Floor 103 was not associated with any wall. It extended over the top of two walls (W104, W106) and abruptly stopped in an uneven line. It superposed an earlier floor of larger stones with an earth fill between them (L107; Figs. 2, 3). Floor 107 overlaid a fill of packed earth and an additional layer of stones (L109; Fig. 4), which served as a support for the floor. The area between the southern balk and the southern face of W104 and W106 was occupied by Floor 107, which formed a unified unit with these walls.
Below the southwest corner of Floor 107 was an in situ series of ceramic-pipe sections (average length 53 cm), running in a northwest direction (Figs. 4, 5). The laying of the pipe cut W113 that was constructed from large basalt dressed stones and was the earliest excavated wall in the square. Wall 104 was built upon the remains of W113.
It preceded the construction of W106, which utilized its existence. Wall 104 consisted of rectangular blocks and had a step on its southern face, which was covered by Floor 107. Wall 106 was crudely built of two parallel rows of stones with a small-stone fill. Only the northern face of the wall had a relatively ordered façade with three courses of horizontal rectangular hammer-dressed stones placed on a layer of very hard mortar that was set above a course of vertically standing hammer-dressed stones (stone dimensions c. 0.25 × 0.50 m). The entire wall was erected on a leveling layer of small basalt stones (Fig. 6). The eastern extension of the upper courses and the adjacent paving (L107) were robbed and only the vertically standing, lowest course and the mortar above it survived. The southern face of W106 remained in an extremely coarse state, indicating that it was not exposed and that W106 functioned as a support wall (Fig. 7). A plastered surface, abutting the northern face of W106, was found c. 20–25 cm above the wall base, yet no plaster was evident on the wall itself. Wall 106 was further abutted by W112, which was slightly exposed at the bottom of the eastern balk (see Fig. 6).
This area (6.5 × 10.0 m; Figs. 8, 9) revealed the remains of a highly disturbed, paved installation with a furnace that was overlying an earlier structure. Its northwest corner was occupied by a late and unexcavated tomb that destroyed that portion of the installation. The exact size of the installation was not available, as no walls were found, all having been completely robbed. The southern portion of the installation appears to have been removed during a previous, undocumented earth-moving operation.
The installation was paved with tightly fitted square ceramic tiles (average dimensions 31 × 31 × 4.5 cm.), which had a slightly concave upper surface that evidenced a thin plaster application.
The poorly preserved remains of a furnace, of which three elements were discernible, were in the middle of the paved area northern portion. In the center and standing directly on the floor was a solidly built unit of hewn stones (W214), which were intensely burned. The unit was lined with bricks both on the east and west, which insulated it from ovens that flanked it. In addition to the brick insulation, W214 had a tabun-like insulating material as well. To the south of W214 were three bricks, separated c. 20 cm from each other. The western oven (L208) was nearly completely destroyed. The eastern oven (L213) was somewhat better preserved. It was partially sunken into the paving and sloped deeper in a northerly direction. The oven floor was assembled of tiles (average dimensions 23 × 23 cm) smaller than those in the rest of the installation. Five courses of bricks (average dimensions 23 × 16 × 4 cm) were preserved in the western wall of the oven, thereby insulating W214. Fragments of the furnace were found strewn in most areas of the pavement. Broken bricks and fragments from rectangular ceramic flues, similar to those found in Jalame, were very ubiquitous. None of the flues were found in situ. Other than the thick ash layer, bricks and flue fragments and a few charred early to middle Roman-period potsherds, nothing was found to enable a clear understanding of the furnace’s function, as well as that of the installation.
Below the eastern and western portions of the excavated installation were two sections paved with carefully laid ashlar blocks (L211 and L216) and separated by an area paved with medium-sized fieldstones (L217; Fig. 10). A small probe (L218) below the fieldstones revealed a fill of smaller stones.
A segment of a well-built ashlar and mortared wall (W212) was uncovered under the western paved section (L211; Fig. 11). A probe in the northwest corner of the area (L207) did not reveal the continuation of this wall.
The ceramic finds indicate that the earliest presence in this area of Banias was possibly during the Hellenistic period, as testified by the occurrence of several imported amphora fragments (not illustrated). The finds from the early Roman period in Area I were more significant and included two first century CE coins (Table 1), as well as a small amount of datable pottery, such as fragments from four knife-pared lamps (‘Herodian’; not illustrated). The large majority of the finds, however, was datable to the floruit of Roman Banias––the third–fourth centuries CE.
The pottery assemblage is characterized by the large number of distinctive flange-rim (Fig. 12:1) and ledge-rim (Fig. 12:2, 3) ‘Banias’ bowls. Several bowls of various sizes had a rounded ridge rim; the smaller examples had six ridges (Fig. 12:4), while the larger bowls had eight ridges. Although they are occasionally referred to as mortaria, their size is more amenable to their being termed bowls. Fragments decorated with gouging or incising (Fig. 12:5–8) were also found among the bowls. Ten kraters with a wide-flanged rim were recovered from Area I (Fig. 12:9). The cooking vessels were types common to the middle to late Roman period and included Havarit (Fig. 12:10–12) and Kefar Hananya forms (Fig. 12:13–16). Dozens of round-bodied juglets with a stump base (Fig. 12:17–19) were the most prevalent vessel type and possibly played an integral role in the function of the installation. A small number of juglets had a narrow neck with a circumventing ridge (Fig. 12:20). Several variants of Golan-type pithoi with a swirled base (Fig. 12:21–24) and handles with four ridges were prominent among the storage vessels.
Table 1: The coins
|End of fourth century CE
|End of fourth century CE
This limited excavation contributes to our knowledge of Banias. It was not known that Banias extended so far to the south, although this site is clearly outside the domestic confines of the city. Its distant location, as well as its being situated on an open hill, exposed to the elements, indicates its industrial nature. While no physical connection was established between the two excavated areas, they appear to be parts of a single unit with fragments of bricks and flues, originating in the Area II installation and emerging in Area I as well. The pipeline uncovered in Area I is directed toward the Area II installation. Few hints as to the function of the installation were discernible. A single circular tile that may be part of a bathhouse was found out of context near the plaster surface of Area I. In addition, the prevailing vessels in the excavation were the dozens of juglets, which may be associated with a bathhouse, serving as dispensers of oils and perfumes. Wasters that could point to the existence of a pottery production center were not found. The ceramic and numismatic finds indicate that this site was contemporaneous with the major site of Banias, as well as with sites in the Golan Heights, such as Horbat Nimra, with its very similar assemblage and Bab el-Hawa. The earliest remains, unfortunately, were exposed in such a limited area that no coherent plan could be extrapolated.