During October 2009, a salvage excavation was conducted along the route of the salt-water conduit south of Shiqmim Beach (Permit No. A-5754; map ref. 252567/740801), following the discovery of a well and ancient remains during the installation of the salt-water pipeline. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Hartal (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), M. Kunin and R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting).
A habitation level attributed to the Early Islamic period was exposed beneath the surface. Below it was an alluvial layer devoid of any finds and superposed the well, which was discovered filled with collapse of mostly large roughly hewn building stones and several ashlars, with loose soil. The well was elliptical (inner dimensions 2.25×3.25 m, presumed depth 7.23 m; Fig. 2), rock-hewn and lined with a wall (height 3 m; Fig. 3) built of fieldstones and partly hewn stones in dry unplastered construction. The space between the well’s wall and the bedrock was filled with small fieldstones. The eastern part of the wall was mostly destroyed and all that survived were remains of its bottom courses and a foundation that was set on the bedrock. The quarrymen reached hard basalt bedrock in the northern part of the well and in the south they had to quarry to a greater depth (the rock cutting was c. 0.5 m deep beneath the wall’s foundation, at 210.23 m below sea level). A layer of clay soil saturated with water was revealed at the bottom of the well; its level was lower than the average water level of the Kinneret and it seems that it was hewn to the horizon of the aquifer. A layer of clay soil (thickness c. 1.2 m) containing medium-sized stones and many potsherds had accumulated above the bottom of the well. The layer of alluvium into which the well was dug separated the walls of the well from the habitation level. It seems that the well descended from the habitation level; the upper part of the well collapsed in antiquity and the stones that lined it had accumulated at the bottom of the well. The pottery discovered at the bottom of the well was mostly buff colored and several fragments were made of brown clay. Most of the pottery fragments are those of saqiye-type vessels with a cylindrical form that narrows slightly toward the rim and base. The opening of the vessel is broad, with an everted rim; the walls of the vessel are thick and have a shallow depression in the middle of the side. A small loop handle is attached to the bottom part of the side and the base of the vessel is flat (diam. 0.1 m, height 0.24 m, volume c. 1 liter; Fig. 4). The vessels were of poor quality. The elliptical shape of the well and the numerous saqiye jars found at its bottom indicate that water was drawn from the well by means of a saqiye installation. The quarrying of the well at such a short distance from the Kinneret and the construction of the saqiye installation indicate that a large amount of water was needed for the habitation level.
Architectural remains that included a surface (3.8×4.1 m, thickness of the foundation c. 0.4 m; Fig. 5) of white material surrounded by low enclosure walls built on virgin soil were exposed c. 50 m south of the well. Most of the surface had crumbled; however, the material in its western corner was tamped and it seems that it was originally the state of the entire surface. Furthermore, walls were preserved in this corner to a single course high (height 0.27 m, width 0.5 m). Several potsherds dating to the tenth and eleventh centuries CE were discovered on the surface. It seems that the surface was part of an array of surfaces that had previously been excavated (HA-ESI 121
). Another surface was visible in the section south of the well.
The excavation has supplemented our knowledge about the site that was located outside the city limits and was not part of a residential quarter, of the kind known elsewhere in Tiberias. Most of its area was used for constructing broad surfaces that were probably enclosed. Service buildings were discovered next to the surfaces (Permit No. A-5676). The surface found in the current excavation shows that these surfaces extended across an area that was larger than previously known. The well exposed in the excavation indicates that the activity carried out on the surfaces or nearby, required large amounts of water.