A salvage excavation was conducted in November 2000 at Bet Nehemya (Khirbat Beit Kufa; Permit No. A-3332*; map ref. NIG 197/654; OIG 147/154; HA–ESI 116) following damage to ancient remains while preparing the area for construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y. Arbel, with the assistance of Y. Rahamim (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), A. de Vincenz (ceramics) and M. Shuiskaya-Argov (pottery drawing).
Remains of a structure with a plastered floor and walls were discerned in a section of a trench that was dug by mechanical equipment. A single excavation square (c. 4 x 5 m) was opened, revealing two walls (W107, W108) that formed the southeastern corner of a building (Fig. 1), which was in use during two phases: an early phase from the Byzantine period, followed by a gap, and a later phase from the Mamluk period.
The Early Phase. The building was used as a pool during this phase; its original dimensions cannot be estimated owing to its poor state of preservation. The inner faces of the walls (preserved height 0.5–0.7 m; W107––preserved length 2.8 m, width in early phase 0.7 m; W108––preserved length 2.45 m, width in early phase 0.4 m) and the floor of the pool were coated with a layer of plaster (thickness c. 2 cm). The plaster remains discerned on the outer faces of the walls indicate that other pools or installations may have been adjacent to this pool. The ceramic finds discovered on the floor of the pool and in the stratum associated with the walls consisted of pottery fragments dating to the end of the Byzantine period, including storage vessels (Fig. 2:1), cooking vessels (Fig. 2:2) and Late Roman ‘C’ bowls (Fig. 2:3–5).
The Later Phase. The plan of the pool’s structure was changed in the second phase, as well as its use. The walls were made thicker, using additional construction (width 0.50–0.55 m) that was affixed to their outer faces. The reason behind this could stem from the undermining of the walls after the dismantling of the installations that were bordering on the pool. A layer of crushed chalk (thickness 0.5 m) was deposited on the floor of the early phase, serving as bedding for a floor that consisted of beaten-earth, plaster and ash. The ceramic finds from this phase included several pottery fragments and two open lamps with a high base (Fig. 2:6), dating this phase to the Mamluk period. The purpose of the structure in this phase is unclear.