Stratum VII – The Persian Period (fifth century BCE)
Remains of a robbed wall were exposed; however, it is insufficient to indicate the essence of the site.
Stratum VI – The Early Roman Period (first century BCE–early second century CE)
Some remains were exposed in the southern part of the excavation, including a well-built wall aligned east–west and a paved room beneath a round building of Stratum V.
Stratum V – The Byzantine Period (fifth century CE)
Most of the building walls of from this layer were robbed and used for the construction of later walls, some of which were built on top of the earlier ones. A circular structure whose walls were inclined and seem to have supported a dome was exposed in the southern part of the excavation area (Fig. 2). Part of an olive press was exposed next to the northern side of the building. To its east was a large crushing stone that had been brought to the site for the purpose of dressing it edges and installing it. For reasons unknown, the edges were never dressed and the stone was incorporated in a wall of Stratum III (Fig. 3). Sections of walls were uncovered in the middle of the excavation area. At the foot of the walls were large stones that had collapsed from the wall; the collapse was found covered with debris layers from Stratum IV.
Part of a stone-paved building, several of whose walls were dismantled in a later phase, was exposed in the north of the excavation area. Some of the structure’s walls were very thick and were probably meant to support an upper story. The collapse of an ashlar-built vault was discovered in the southeast of the excavation. The walls and building remains might have been part of an underground vaulted storage unit.
Stratum IV – The Late Byzantine and Umayyad Periods (late sixth–seventh centuries CE)
Several narrow units that might have been used for storage could be discerned in the southern part of the area. The building plan is incomplete because some of the stratum’s walls served as a base for the walls of Stratum III and some were dismantled and used in later periods. Sections of walls were exposed in the center of the area and in the western squares, numerous layers of ash, which contained glass industrial debris, were discovered leveled one on top of the other, separated by several centimeters. Part of a residential building (Fig. 4) that had ashlars and marble tiles incorporated in its floor was discovered in the northern part of the area. The northern end of the area was damaged by the floors of Stratum III set on top of it; however, based on the few walls that survived, one can discern other rooms in the building. Large amounts of stone collapse were discovered; some of it was not removed and the floors of Stratum III were set in place directly on top of it (Fig. 5). Two stone lintels with a hewn groove that held wooden roofing beams were discovered in the collapse in the northeast of the excavation.
Stratum III – The Crusader Period (twelfth century CE)
Several walls, stone paved floors and pottery fragments were uncovered in the north of the excavation. It seems that the construction in this period was focused in the northern part of the site and the buildings were completely destroyed. A small entrance threshold was uncovered near a well that still exists today, which might have been used to convey water to the building. A stone circle, an outer addition to the round building of Stratum V and a thick wall that severed the building in the north were exposed in the southern part of the area. The wall delimited a building from the south, of which two rooms and pillars had survived. The thick wall that separated the rooms suggests that their roof was a barrel vault. A wall that faced east and might have delimited the western side of another room was exposed northeast of the building. South of the building was a built and covered aqueduct, aligned east–west, and traversed the area widthwise (Fig. 6).
Stratum II –The Mamluk Period (fourteenth century CE)
Remains of one wall that adjoined the round building in the south of the excavation were exposed, and the recovered potsherds dated it to the Mamluk period. The potsherds from this period were also found scattered on the surface in the northern part of the site. On the basis of the scant finds, it can be assumed that the site was temporarily inhabited during the fourteenth century CE.
Stratum I – The Ottoman Period (seventeenth–eighteenth centuries CE)
The principal find from this stratum is the cemetery in the southern part of the excavation. In addition to it, three ovens, with clay tobacco pipesaround them, were discovered.
The site has multi-strata but the finds in the layers do not indicate a large settlement, but rather country estate houses that were built one atop the other over the years. The finds in Strata VI and VII are too meager to provide a clear picture of the settlement in these periods at the site. The shape of the building in Stratum V resembles that of a villa that was revealed at H
orbat ‘Aqav in Ramat Ha-Nadiv (Hirschfeld 2000: Fig. 43
). Hirschfeld attributed that ruin to a villa rustica
, whose foundations were storage vaults; it had an olive press located a short distance away and is similar in shape to the one exposed in the current excavation.
The short time that elapsed from the destruction until the construction of the stratum above it is indicative of a violent event. The massive construction that is apparent in the reinforcing of the walls, which was done by adding rows of stones, raises the possibility that this was the same family from Stratum IV who renovated its house that had been destroyed in Stratum V. Destruction followed by immediate resettlement could be attributed to an earthquake. There are two layers in the excavations at H
orbat ‘Aqav, which chronologically overlap the strata of the current excavation. The renovated building of Stratum IV is similar in shape to the farmhouses at H
orbat ‘Aleq and ‘En Z
ur (Hirschfeld 2000
). The farmhouse’s economy apparently relied on a glass workshop. The angles of the stones that fell in the collapse and the amount of alluvium that accumulated between the floor and the stone collapse indicate neglect and abandonment rather than a disaster. Part of the building exposed in Stratum III was probably a private estate house, possibly a courtyard house. A tower of a residential building might have been exposed in the excavation conducted on the other side of the road. Most of the potsherds from this stratum dated from the beginning of the twelfth century CE to almost the end of that century. The location of the building, which is not strategic and has a definite disadvantage of being below the mountain ridge, might have resulted in its abandonment during the fighting against Saladin. The short-lived settlement in Stratum II was uncovered mainly in the southern part of the site. It seems that the northern part of the site was already destroyed in this period or that the remains from this period, if any, were subsequently damaged and nothing had survived of them. Little was left of the site from Stratum I, when it was used primarily for burial.