A square (F6; Figs. 5, 6) was excavated at the top of the hill, next to the stone building, and five construction phases (1–5) were discerned, dating to the Hellenistic, Byzantine, Umayyad and Mamluk periods.
1. A pressing installation was ascribed to the earliest phase. It included a rectangular surface that was hewn in an east–west direction with a circular depression hewn in its eastern corner (L160; diam. 0.6 m, depth 0.2 m). On the basis of the installation’s stratigraphic location beneath the Hellenistic phase it should predate the Hellenistic stratum.
2. A gray plaster floor (L159) was exposed above the installation and negated it. Several potsherds were discovered, including the rims of a bowl (Fig. 7:3) and a jar (Fig. 7:4) from the Late Hellenistic period.
3. A crushed chalk floor (L157) was exposed at an elevation of 0.15 m above Floor 159. A rim of a LRC bowl that dates to the end of the Byzantine period (late sixth–early seventh centuries CE; Fig. 7:8) was discovered in the soil fill above the floor.
4. Sections of a chalk floor (L151) were uncovered at an elevation of c. 0.5 m above Level 3. Meager ceramic artifacts from the Umayyad period were discovered, including the rims of a krater (Fig. 7:9) and a jar (Fig. 7:10).
5. Architectural remains from the Mamluk period were discovered in the latest phase; three secondary phases were discerned. A wall (W21) built of indigenous stones founded on Floor 151 and aligned north–south is ascribed to the earliest secondary phase. A column fragment was incorporated in its construction and only its western side was exposed. Patches of a plaster floor (L147) that abutted the wall from the west were exposed. Soil fill discovered above the floor yielded a handmade bowl, decorated with red paint (Fig. 7:20) and very common to the Mamluk period. A wall (W22; width 0.5 m, preserved height 0.25 m) built above Floor 147 is ascribed to the middle secondary phase. It was oriented north–south and built of stones collected in the vicinity and architectural elements, among them a column fragment and a small stone-pressing installation (Fig. 6). Wall 22 was abutted from the east by a pale yellow chalk floor (L126), upon which evidence of a fire was discovered. Several potsherds from the Mamluk period, including a jug (Fig. 7:31), were found on the floor. A wall (W20; width 0.7 m, preserved height 0.3 m) that was built parallel to W22 and in a similar manner is ascribed to the latest secondary phase. A fragment of a stone column was incorporated in the wall in secondary use. A gray plaster floor (L121; thickness 0.2 m) abutted the western side of the wall. Two glazed bowls were exposed on the floor, one has a dark green monochrome glaze (Fig. 7:16) and the other has a multi-colored glaze in shades of yellow and brown (Fig. 7:18). These bowls date from the second half of the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries CE. Two glass bracelets (Fig. 7:37) dating from the thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE were also found on the floor.
Four squares (F2–5) were opened and architectural remains from the Hellenistic, Mamluk and Ottoman periods were excavated on the hillside.
Hellenistic Period. Sections of walls, discovered in Squares F2 and F3 (Fig. 8), were destroyed when the area was leveled in the Mamluk period. A wall section (W16; width 0.6 m; Fig. 9) founded on bedrock that had been quarried level was exposed in Sq F2. The wall was aligned east–west and built of large coarsely dressed stones, with smaller stones inserted among them for reinforcement; it was preserved two courses high (max. 0.5 m). The eastern side of the wall was destroyed by the construction of a cist grave in the Ottoman period (L161; below), while the western side of the wall was severed by the construction of a modern farming terrace. Potsherds recovered from the soil fill south of the wall (L119) and north of it (L129) included rims of a red slipped bowl (Fig. 7:2) and jars (Fig. 7:5, 7), dating to the Late Hellenistic period.
Sections of two parallel walls (W10, W14; width 0.7 m; Fig. 10), aligned east–west, were exposed in Sq F3. They were founded on a layer of fine soil fill that had accumulated on the bedrock and were built of large square and rectangular stones, with small fieldstones incorporated around for reinforcement; they were preserved two courses high (0.5–0.8 m). The two walls continued east beyond the limits of the excavation. The western side of the walls was fragmented. The rims of a bowl (Fig. 7:1) and a jar (Fig. 7:6) dating to the Late Hellenistic period were exposed in the soil fill between the walls (L144, L156).
Mamluk Period. Architectural remains were discovered in all of the squares, but it is unclear if they belonged to one or more buildings. Several construction phases from the Mamluk period were identified in some of the squares. A wall of a building (W1; length 5 m, width 0.9 m; Figs. 8, 11) was exposed in Sq F2. It was constructed on a leveled light yellow chalk foundation (L116) in a north–south direction from stones that were well-dressed on their outer side; it was preserved three courses high. The wall continued north beyond the boundaries of the square. Two bowls (Fig. 7:11, 27) that date to the Mamluk period and a glass beaker decorated with a white stripe on its rim (Fig. 7:36), which is typical of the Mamluk period, were discovered in the wall’s foundation.
A room (2.9×3.0 m; Figs. 12, 13) was exposed in Sq F4, c. 10 m east of W1; three construction phases were discerned. The room continued north beyond the limits of the excavation. The room was covered with a large amount of stone collapse, which contained voussoirs indicative of an originally vaulted ceiling (L122). A bowl from the Mamluk period (Fig. 7:15) was found in the fill of the room. The outer walls of the room (W5–W7; width 0.8 m, preserved height 1.5–1.8 m) were built in the early phase and in the center of the room were narrow partition walls, preserved a single course high (W11–W13), which delimited a small room (1.3×1.4 m). A corridor of sorts was situated between the outer and inner walls. The walls of the room were built of different size dressed stones in secondary use. An engraved cross was discerned on one of the stones in Wall 5 (Fig. 14). The entrance to the room (width 0.5 m) was set in Wall 6; another entry that included a threshold stone (width 0.5 m) was installed in Wall 13 and led to the inner room. A chalk floor (L146) was discovered in the inner room. The corridor on the eastern side of the room was paved with stone (L135), while on the southern side was a chalk floor (L140). A staircase (L138) that led to a second story was exposed in the southern part of the corridor. A new chalk floor was installed in the inner room in the middle phase and the stone pavement in the corridor continued to be used. A worn coin (IAA 119622) dating to the fourteenth century CE and fragments of two glazed bowls (Fig. 7:13, 17), very common to the Mamluk period, were discovered on the corridor’s pavement. The rims of a krater (Fig. 7:23) and a cooking pot (Fig. 7:28) from the Mamluk period were on the floor of the inner room. The corridor and the inner room were nullified in the latest phase and a chalk floor was laid down in the entire area of the room. The floor was fragmented and the potsherds above it included a large bowl (Fig. 7:26) from the Mamluk period.
A room delimited by three walls (W20–W22; Figs. 15, 16) was exposed in Sq F5, c. 7 m from the room in Sq F4. The foundations of the walls were built of fieldstones and coarsely dressed stones. A round plastered pit (L136; diam. 1.2 m, depth 0.7 m) surrounded by a light colored plaster floor (L150) was exposed in the room. The room might be part of an olive press, whose collecting vat was only exposed. Potsherds from the Mamluk period were discovered on the plaster floor and inside the pit, including two glazed bowls (Fig. 7:12, 14), three handmade bowls decorated with red paint (Fig. 7:19, 22), a krater (Fig. 7:25) and a jar (Fig. 7:30). A handmade bowl decorated with red paint (Fig. 7:21), a jug rim (Fig. 7:34) and a flask (Fig. 7:35), dating to the Mamluk period, were found in the soil fill beneath the plaster floor (L153). The pit was negated in the latest phase when a chalk floor (L131) was installed and a wall was built (W8; width 0.7 m). Wall 8, oriented north–south, was built of fieldstones and coarsely dressed stones; it was preserved three courses high. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Mamluk period were discovered on Floor 131 and in the fill above it (L133), including a handmade bowl decorated with red paint (Fig. 7:24), a jug rim adorned with a red geometric decoration (Fig. 7:32), a jug base (Fig. 7:33) and a jar rim (Fig. 7:29).
Ottoman Period. Wall 1 (Fig. 8) continued to be used in the Ottoman period in Squares F2 and F3. Fragments of a pale yellow chalk floor, installed east of the wall (L109), were exposed. A base of a glazed bowl (Fig. 7:39) and a pipe fragment (Fig. 7:43) that date to the Early Ottoman period were found on the floor. A cist grave (L161; 0.5×1.0 m, depth 0.4 m; Fig. 9) built of flat stones was exposed south of W1; the upper part of the grave was discovered opened. This was a short grave suitable for burying an infant. The grave, excavated into the foundation of W1, was therefore dug after the wall had been built. It seems that the wall was constructed in the Ottoman period, although the exact time of its construction is unknown.
Renovations were made to the room that was built in the Mamluk period in Square F4, including repair and expansion of Walls 5 and 7 and the installation of a new chalk floor (L113; Fig. 12). The staircase continued to be used in this phase. On top of Floor 113 were body fragments of handmade pottery vessels adorned with red painted geometric decorations and a complete small bowl (Fig. 7:40) dating to the beginning of the Ottoman period, a small bronze bowl that might have been used as a balance scale pan (Fig. 7:42) and animal bones.
Wall 8 continued to be used in Sq F5 and the habitation level was raised with the installation of a new chalk floor (L128; Fig. 15) during the Ottoman period. A wall (W9) aligned east–west and adjoining W8 was also revealed in the square. The two walls enclosed an area to their south. The finds above Floor 128 included two bowls from the Ottoman period, one was plain (Fig. 7:38) and the other a bowl adorned with a red geometric decoration (Fig. 7:41), as well as Israel Defense Force (IDF) rifle bullets. A broad staircase built in a north–south direction of different size coarsely dressed stones was exposed south of W9, adjacent to W8; its eastern side was destroyed (min. width 3 m). The staircase led from Nahal Timna to the settlement on the hill. Modern artifacts were found on the steps, including IDF ammunition. Steps were visible on the surface west of W8 and modern finds, including IDF ammunition, were discovered on them.
On the basis of the architectural remains discovered in the excavation, it seems that a settlement existed at the site continuously from the Byzantine until the Umayyad period and then, from the Mamluk to the Ottoman periods. No architectural remains from the Byzantine and Umayyad periods were discovered in Area B, the lower area on the hill. Thus it seems that during these periods the settlement was smaller and only located near the hilltop, while in the other periods—the Hellenistic, Mamluk and Ottoman—the settlement extended across a larger area on the hill. The principal finds in the excavation are the settlement remains from the Mamluk period, which indicate that the settlement reached its zenith in this period; the remains from the Ottoman period are a continuation of this settlement. This phenomenon is in keeping with a process that emerged in the Mamluk period of migrating inland as a result of the destruction of the main coastal cities. This process led to the flourishing of settlements in agricultural regions inside the country (Drori 1981:30–44).