Stratum III. Part of a rectangular building (5.5×12.0 m) and an adjacent installation were exposed. The northern wall (W13, W14; length 8 m, width 0.9 m) was built of medium-size kurkar stones (0.10×0.30×0.45 m) set on a bed of small fieldstones (0.1×0.1×0.1 m); to its east only the foundation trench (L128) was preserved. Another wall (W17), only partly exposed, implies that the building had a northern wing that extended beyond the excavated area. The building was delimited on the east by a wall (W7; length 5 m, width 0.65 m; Fig. 3) built of roughly hewn medium-size kurkar stones (0.20×0.25×0.25 m), preserved three courses high. Wall 16, bounded with W7 and perpendicular to it (see Fig. 3), may indicate that the building had another wing that extended eastward. The western wall (W8; exposed length 1.35 m, width 0.7 m) was constructed of medium-size kurkar stones (0.20×0.25×0.25 m). Another wall (W9; exposed length 1.9 m), built of medium-size kurkar stones (0.2×0.3×0.6 m), ran through the center of the building; its function is unclear. The floor of the building (L109, L119) was made of tamped light brown earth, into which three Gaza jars were set upside down (Fig. 4). The jars’ bases are missing, and one of their sides was deliberately broken so that the vessel could fit along the northern section of W7. The broken jars were probably used as storage installations. A fourth jar, set up right into the floor, had also been intentionally broken; its broken part was placed beside a fieldstone that lay on the floor.
A plastered installation (W11, W12) that was dug in the ground was partly exposed in the south part of the building. Wall 12 slanted southward (exposed length 5.5 m, preserved height 0.7 m; width at the base of the wall 0.4 m, width at the top of the wall 0.3 m; Fig. 5). It was built of limestone blocks (0.1–0.3×0.1–0.3×0.1–0.3 m) bonded with gray mortar mixed with charcoal chips and shells. The outer face of the wall was coated with layer of plaster (thickness 1.5 cm) applied on a layer of sherds. Wall 12 is bonded with Wall 7 (see Fig. 3), indicating that the installation was part of the building. Wall 11 was built 1 m from Wall 12, and its top is c. 0.6 m lower than that of Wall 12, in keeping with the natural slope of the hill. Its base was thickened (0.2 m). The upper part of the southern face of Wall 11 was partially preserved of (0.1×0.2 m; Fig. 6). No floor came up to the walls. The installation was found filled with soil (L125) mixesd with numerous pottery sherds, including a whole Gaza jar. South of Wall 11 was soil fill (L127) mixed with a large amount of sherds, most of which belonged to Gaza jars. A cluster of sherds (L116), possibly a shallow accumulation of refuse (0.1 m), was found in the east of Square I10.
The ceramic finds from the building and the fill of the installation date to the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE). It included bowls (Fig. 7:1–4), one of which is an imported Late Roman type decorated with a stamped floral and geometric pattern (Fig. 7:1); a cup (Fig. 7:5); kraters (Fig. 7:6–10); cooking pots (Fig. 8:1, 2); cooking jugs (Fig. 8:3, 4); a jar with a ridge on the neck (Fig. 8:6); Gaza jars (Fig. 8:7–9); a juglet (Fig. 8:10); and jugs (Fig. 9:11, 12). A coin (IAA No. 141918), probably from the fifth century CE, was found on the floor of the building. In addition, a broken base of a limestone potter’s wheel with a conical top (Fig. 9:1) and a ceramic loom weight (Fig. 10:1) were found.
Stratum II. Parts of buildings and a courtyard from this stratum were found in several places in the excavation area. A square room, only partially exposed, was built over the installation: two parallel walls (W3, W10; exposed length 2 m, width 0.55 m) built of medium-size kurkar stones (0.20×0.24×0.25 m), that abut W12, which was now utilized in secondary use as a wall of the building. The room was paved (L114, L123) with small kurkar slabs (0.1×0.1×0.1 m) and tamped light brown soil set on a bedding of soil and stones of different sizes.
A room and an open courtyard, constructed over the accumulation of sherds (L116), were found in the western part of the excavated area. Two combined walls, perpendicular to each other, were uncovered (W5 – exposed length 1.5 m, width 0.35 m; W6 – exposed length 1.75 m, width 0.45 m); both were built of medium-size kurkar slabs (0.15–0.25×0.25–0.35×0.60–0.65 m). The floor of the room (L113) was made of tamped earth and many pottery vessels were found on it. Its foundation was made of small kurkar stones (0.1×0.1×0.1 m). Outside the building was a courtyard (L107, L117) that had a floor made of small stones, tamped soil and marble fragments in secondary use. Another wall (W1; exposed length 1.2 m) founded on the accumulation of sherds (L116) belonged to this stratum. Its connection to the building was unclear.
The pottery from Stratum II dates to the Early Islamic period (eighth–ninth centuries CE) and included bowls (Fig. 11:1, 2), one of which is treated with a blue-green glaze (Fig. 11:1); a krater (Fig. 11:3); bag-shaped jars (Fig. 11:4, 5); jugs (Fig. 11:6, 7); a jug handle made of buff colored clay coils (Fig. 11:8); and mold-made lamps made of buff colored clay (Fig. 11:9, 10). One whole lamp is decorated with a pattern of vine tendrils (Fig. 11:9). A broken base of a limestone potter’s wheel with a conical top (Fig. 9:2) and a limestone statuette (1.8×2.0×5.0 cm; Fig. 10:2) depicting the schematic human image with a shaped head (Fig. 10:1) were found, as well as three coins: two from the fourth century CE (IAA Nos. 141915, 141916) and an Umayyad fals (post reform; 697–750 CE; IAA No. 141917).
Stratum I. Remains of this layer were only found in Square I11: a circular cooking oven (L124; diameter 1 m, depth 0.55 m; Fig. 12) that was dug into the natural soil of the hill and penetrated the floor of Stratum III. The oven’s walls were made of fired clay; its floor was made of medium size fieldstones (0.3×0.3×0.3 m) and it was found filled with ash.
The ceramic finds from Stratum I, which were disocvered in the oven, date to the Mamluk period (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries CE) and included a cooking pot (Fig. 13:1), a portable cooking installation (Fig. 13:2) and a handle of a hand-made pottery vessel decorated with red-brown stripes (Fig. 13:3). A metal instrument that was probably used for incising was found; both of its ends are pointed and in the middle is a surface for gripping it (Fig. 14). A coin that dates to the fourth century CE was also found (IAA No. 141919).
Evidence of habitation during three periods was discovered in the excavation. On the basis of the numismatic finds, the beginning of the settlement at the site can be dated to the four or fifth century CE. In the fifth–seventh centuries CE a rectangular building was constructed there that included a plastered installation. The installation was probably built of two plastered, stepped basins that were used as levigation pools in a pottery workshop. Indirect evidence of this assumption is the two pottery wheel bases that were found in the building that was exposed in Strata II and III. In the seventh century CE the installation and the building went out of use. In the eighth century CE new buildings were constructed on top of the walls of the building and installation of Stratum III. In the ninth century CE this part of the site was abandoned. After approximately 400 years the settlement at the site was renewed in the fourteenth century CE and it continued to exist for about another 200 years. Evidence of this is the cooking oven from the Mamluk period.
Baumgarten Y. 2001. A Pottery Kiln near the Giv‘ati Junction. ‘Atiqot 42:43–50 (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 323–324).
Conder C.R. and Kitchener H.H. 1882. The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography and Archaeology 3: Judea. London.