During June 2001 a salvage excavation was conducted in Tirat Karmel (Permit no. A-3442*; map ref. NIG 1979/7400; OIG 1479/2400), prior to paving a road. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Almog Civil Engineering Company, was directed by O. Segal, with the assistance of Y. Dangor (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), T. Kornfeld (drafting) and T. Sagiv (photography).
Two areas, 50 m apart and west of Tel Tirat Karmel (ESI –53), were opened.
Area A. Five squares, aligned north–south, revealed the remains of two winepresses. A square collecting vat (3.0 × 3.5 m; preserved depth 2 m; L118; Figs. 1, 2) in the northern winepress, built of dressed kurkar blocks, was excavated. Three steps, descending to the bottom of the vat, were installed along its southern wall. The interior face of the walls, the vat and the steps were coated with hydraulic plaster and the vat’s floor was paved with a coarse white mosaic. A small, white-mosaic paved settling pit (L122) was set in its northwestern corner.
The pottery recovered from the collecting vat consisted of potsherds from the end of the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth century CE), including three imported Cypriot bowls (Fig. 3:1–3), a krater (Fig. 3:5) and a jar (Fig. 3:6) and from the Early Islamic period (eighth century CE), namely a krater (Fig. 3:4) and jars (Fig. 3:7, 8). Ribbed potsherds of black fabric, dating to the end of the Byzantine period, were discerned in the walls of the collecting vat, as well as in a layer underlying the hydraulic plaster on the walls. Layers of ash and carbon indicated that the vat was used as a charcoal kiln in the modern era.
The southwestern corner of the treading floor (presumed size 4 × 4 m) survived in the southern winepress, which had two phases (Figs. 4–6). The white-mosaic floor with the coarse tesserae was ascribed to the early phase, whereas the mosaic floor that consisted of delicate tesserae with a blue rhomboid decoration (L126) was assigned to the later phase. A circular screw base (diam. 1.5 m) with a square hole (0.4 × 0.4 m) that became wider along two of its sides was found on this floor. Wall 304 enclosed the treading floor on the southern side. To its south, separate sections of mosaic and plaster were attributed to at least two storage cells (Loci 128, 129) that were separated by Wall 306. Based on elevation differences, it is presumed that the collecting vat was north of the winepress and that another collecting vat and storage cells were located around the treading surface. Byzantine pottery, similar to that recovered from the northern vat, was found on the treading surface, dating the time period when the winepress was no longer used.
Three other squares revealed no architectural remains but contained potsherds that mainly dated to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods (Fig. 3:9).
Area B. Nine half squares, oriented north–south and consisting of sections of buildings and walls that were ascribed to the Byzantine, Mamluk and Ottoman periods (Figs. 7, 8), were opened.
The Byzantine Period. Two construction phases were assigned to this period. The stump of Wall 612 (width 0.65 m, length 0.55 m, height 0.3 m) and L420 nearby belonged to the early phase and dated to the fifth–sixth centuries CE, based on pottery vessels, such as imported Cypriot bowls (Fig. 3:10, 11). Wall 606, sealed by a Mamluk floor, and Wall 608, preserved three courses high but having no abutting floor, were ascribed to the later phase.
The Mamluk Period. A plaster floor, founded on top of a small-stone layer (L423) overlaid with fragments of pottery vessels from the Mamluk period, including handmade jars or jugs, decorated with geometric patterns (Fig. 9:1–3), was attributed to this phase. A tabun (L432; diam. 0.7 m; preserved height 0.8 m) lined with square limestone pieces (0.2–0.3 m) was exposed at the same elevation.
The Ottoman Period. Most of the remains in this area were ascribed to the Ottoman period and included walls, aligned north–south (W609, W610) and east–west (W600, W605, W607, W611, W613). The walls, preserved two–three courses high, were built of limestone (width c. 0.3 m), whereas their foundation consisted of fieldstones and white bonding material (preserved height 1.0–1.2 m), protruding c. 0.1 m from the exterior face of the walls. Architectural remains, haphazardly built of fieldstones without bonding material, were uncovered alongside the walls (Fig. 8). The retrieved potsherds were mixed. Some dated to the Mamluk period, e.g., a green glazed bowl from the thirteenth century CE (Fig. 9:5) and some was Ottoman, such as glazed bowls (Fig. 9:4, 6, 7), a Gaza bowl and a krater of dark fabric (Fig. 9:8, 9), jars and jugs of dark fabric (Fig. 9:10–13) and clay pipes (Fig. 9:14, 15). A modern sewage pipe was placed on top of W601.
The limited excavation area revealed an industrial complex, dating to the Byzantine period and remains of dwellings from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, which were similar in construction to several buildings that survived from the Arab village of Et-Tira, abandoned in 1948, along the southern bank of Nahal Gallim (c. 200 m east of Area B).