In October–November 2018, a salvage excavation was conducted at Na‘ura (Permit No. A-8370; map coordinates 237359–85/724570–602) prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was conducted by N. Feig, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘akobi (administration), M. Peleg (photogrammetry), H. Tahan-Rosen (plans and pottery drawing) and workers from Yafi‘a.
The village of Na‘ura is located on the eastern slopes of Givʽat Ha-More, at the edge of the Jezreel Valley. In the northeastern part of the village is an archaeological site that has been surveyed numerous times in the past. The surveys revealed infant burials from the Middle Bronze Age I; a rock-cut tomb used in the Intermediate Bronze Age, the Middle Bronze Age II and the Late Bronze Age; sherds from the Intermediate Bronze Age, Iron Age and Hellenistic period; tombs and burial caves from the Roman and Byzantine periods; and remains of a settlement from the Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid and Mamluk periods (Fig. 1; for further information about past surveys and excavations at the site [marked in Fig. 1], see Kovello-Paran 2014; Dalali-Amos 2018).
One excavation square was opened (Figs. 2, 3), revealing a stones surface and remains of a tabun (Stratum I) dated to the late Byzantine and Umayyad periods, and rock-cuttings (Stratum II); only a small part of the stone surface was removed during the excavation. The excavation yielded pottery sherds from the Iron Age I and the Hellenistic period, but mainly from the late Byzantine and the Umayyad periods. Prior to the excavation, mechanical equipment was used to remove an upper fill of soil (thickness c. 1.2 m).
Stratum I. The stone surface, comprising two superimposed fieldstone layers (L100; 1.8 × 3.5 m), was discovered in the middle of the square. The lower layer was of medium-sized stones, and the upper one consisted of larger stones. The surface was delineated on the west and the east by two walls (W102, W104), which were built of one row of fieldstones set directly on the bedrock and preserved to a height of three courses (0.5 m). North of the stone surface were two large stones, and to their west was a high bedrock surface; the large stones may have been part of a wall that delimited the stone surface on the north. North of the stone surface and near the northern end of W104 were remains of a ṭabun (Fig. 4); on its floor were fragments of a gray jar from the Umayyad period.
Stratum II. Therock-cuttings were found around the stone surface. The bedrock surface uncovered west of the stone layers and of W102 (L101; Fig. 5) had a deep, irregular pit, which extended beyond the boundaries of the excavation. In the southern part of the bedrock surface, which was slightly leveled, two round cupmarks were hewn into a small depression. A quadrangular pit (L106) with a sump in its floor was hewn to the east of W104; the pit also extended beyond the excavated area. A rock outcrop (L103) with a few rock-cuttings was unearthed to the north of the stone surface.
Finds. The excavation revealed pottery from the Iron Age I, the Hellenistic period, and the late Byzantine–Umayyad periods (sixth–eighth centuries CE). A grinding stone (Fig. 6; L101, B1006) was found along with the pottery from the Umayyad period. Coarse white tesserae, typical of mosaic pavings of industrial installations, were found scattered throughout the site.
A few Iron Age I pottery sherds were found clustered in Rock Cutting 101. These included two kraters (Fig. 7:1, 2) with a sharp carination and a flaring, everted rim. This type of krater was common throughout the country in a variety of types, differing from each other in the form of their rim and in details of the body. Similar kraters were found in the north of the country, at sites such as Tel Kison (Tell Keisan; Stratum 9c; Briend and Humbert 1980: Pl. 78:1) and Tel Megiddo (Stratum VI; Loud 1948: Pl. 85:4). The assemblage also included a cooking krater from the Iron Age I (Fig. 7:3) with a thickened rim, of a type also found in Stratum 9 at Tel Kison (Briend and Humbert 1980: Pl. 64:2).
The potsherds from the Hellenistic period, most of which were found on the bedrock surface (L103) near the Ṭabun, are made of light-colored sandy clay. They belong to a wide variety of vessels, including a red-slipped and burnished krater (Fig. 7:4) resembling deep kraters found at Dor and dated from the fourth to the early second centuries BCE (Guz-Zilberstein 1995:297, Type KR 6.12); a casserole with a gutter rim to hold a lid (Fig. 7:5), which first appeared in the third century BCE and became common in the second century BCE; and jars with a thickened rim (Fig. 7:6–8), resembling bag-shaped jars with a ridged body, which were very common in the north of the country, such as at Tel Dor, where they were dated from the second half of the second century to the first half of the first century BCE (Guz-Zilberstein 1995:299, Type CP5 6.20). Also unearthed was a fragment of a handmade oil lamp with a pinched spout (Fig. 7:9), which was common in the second century BCE, but is also found in first-century BCE contexts Judah.
Numerous pottery sherds from the late Byzantine period and the early Umayyad period were uncovered on the surface, on Stone Surface 100 and near the Ṭabun. The finds include Kraters, cooking vessels, jars, jugs and a flask. Several kraters are made of brown clay (Fig. 8:1–3) and have straight or rounded walls, a grooved rectangular rim (Fig. 8:1, 2) and a high base (Fig. 8:3); the rim of Krater 2 bears a rope decoration. These vessels, known as Bet She‘an kraters, were uncovered at the Bet She‘an youth hostel site (Avissar 2014:68, Fig. 3:6–10), at Capernaum and at Pella in Transjordan, where they began to appear in the fourth century and continued in use until the mid-seventh century CE (Loffreda 1974:54–60, Figs. 14.3–14, class D). Also found was deep krater with handles, white-slipped on the outside and bearing a red-painted decoration on the one handle that survived (Fig. 8:4). This type of karater was common throughout the north—it was found, for example, at the Bet She‘an youth hostel site (Avissar 2014: Fig. 22:1) as well as in Amman, Jerash and Pella—and is dated to the beginning of the Umayyad period; this vessel seems to have originated in Transjordan. The cooking vessels included deep casseroles (Fig. 8:5), a casserole lid (Fig. 8:6) and closed cooking pots (Fig. 8:7–9). Cooking Pot 7 had a short, everted neck and a thickened rim; similar vessels were found in Pella, where they were dated to 500–600 CE (McNicoll, Smith and Hennessy 1982: Pl. 138:7, 9). Cooking Pots 8 and 9 have a folded rim; similar vessels were found at the Bet She‘an youth hostel site (Avissar 2014: Fig. 6:8, 9) and at Pella, where they were dated to the sixth century CE (McNicoll, Smith and Hennessy 1982: Pl. 138:8, 10). The jars included Palestinian bag-shaped jars (Fig. 8:10–12), which were common on both sides of the Jordan River and were apparently used to store wine. Jars 11 and 12 have a folded rim. Similar jars were found at Ramat Ha-Nadiv, where they were dated to the sixth–seventh centuries CE (Calderon 2000:127–128). The jug (Fig. 8:13) has a high neck, and the juglet—an imitation of a Fine Byzantine Ware vessel—is made of well-levigated clay (Fig. 8:14). The flask has a narrow, short neck, resembling a cup (Fig. 8:15), which is typical of assemblages from the Umayyad period, uncovered for example at Bet She‘an, Bet Yeraḥ, Capernaum and Pella.
The late Byzantine and Umayyad periods (seventh–eighth centuries CE) remains and the finds uncovered in the excavation, like previously uncovered remains from these periods (Dalali-Amos 2007; Dalali-Amos 2011; Mokary 2016), are apparently part of a rural settlement that was founded in the seventh century CE, in the late Byzantine period, and continued to exist throughout the Umayyad period.
Avissar M. 2014. The Ceramic Finds from the Late Roman to the Ottoman periods at Bet She‘an (Youth Hostel). ‘Atiqot 77:65–146 (Hebrew; English summary pp. 119*–128*).
Briend J. and Humbert J.-B. eds. 1980. Tell Keisan (1971–1976): Une cité phénicienne en Galilée (OBO.SA 1). Fribourg.
Calderon R. 2000. Roman and Byzantine Pottery. In Y. Hirschfield. Ramat Hanadiv Excavations: Final Report of the 1984–1998 Seasons. Jerusalem. Pp. 91–165.
Guz-Zilberstein B. 1995. The Typology of the Hellenistic Coarse Ware and Selected Loci of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. In E. Stern ed. Excavations at Dor; Final Report I, B: Areas A and C. The Finds (Qedem Reports 2). Jerusalem. Pp. 289–433.
Loffreda S. 1974. Cafarnao II: La ceramica (SBF Collectio Maior 19). Jerusalem.
Loud G. 1948. Megiddo II: Seasons of 1935–39 (OIP LXII) (2 vols.). Chicago.
McNicoll A., Smith R.H. and Hennessy B. 1982. Pella in Jordan 1: An Interim Report on the Joint University of Sydney and the College of Wooster Excavations at Pella 1979–1981 (2 vols.). Canberra.