In April and May 2014, a trial excavation was conducted within the site of Et-Tuweiri in the avocado orchard of Kibbutz Sa‘ar (Permit No. A-7099; map ref. 212408–556/769796–70050), prior to preparing the area for agricultural use. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Kibbutz Sa‘ar, was directed by Y. Lerer (field photography) with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), J. Gosker (preliminary inspection and area supervision), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS), E. Belashov (plans), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing), I. Reznitzky (metallurgic laboratory), G. Bijovksy (numismatics) and C. Amit (studio photography).
The site of et-Tuweiri is situated in the southern part of Ha-Qoren Valley, c. 500 m south of a tributary of Naẖal Sha‘al. Various excavations and surveys have taken place at the site in the past Frankel and Getzov 2012: Site 42, and see references there). Among their noteworthy findings are a church (Smithline 2007; Fig. 1: A-4258) and a complex winepress, featuring an inscription that notes its renovation in the sixth century CE (Permit No. A-5162). Three excavation areas were opened (1–3; Fig. 2) revealing mainly meager construction remains and a substantial amount of pottery, dating from the Byzantine to the beginning of the Early Islamic and the Mamluk periods.
Area 1 (25 sq m) yielded a layer (thickness 0.1 m) of pebbles with numerous sherds from the end of the Byzantine period, including bowls (Fig. 3:1–3) and jars (Fig. 3:4–7), as well as an Umayyad fals (post-Reform; eighth century CE; IAA 149436). This layer seems to have formed when the finds naturally sank to the level of the pebbles, which were part of the floodplain of nearby Nahal Sha‘al.
Area 2 (75 sq m) yielded two field walls (W10, W11; Fig. 4), built of a combination of medium-sized dressed stones and small fieldstones. A natural layer of pebbles was found at the base of the wall, containing numerous sherds that date from the end of the Byzantine period, including bowls (Fig. 5:1–7), kraters (Fig. 5:8, 9), a cooking pot of a type which was still in use in the Umayyad period (Fig. 5:10) and jars (Fig. 5:11–15). A worn coin of the fourth century CE (IAA 149437) was also found. It seems the finds reached this location together with earth brought over to improve the local soil. Sherds found at the level of the walls date from the Mamluk period and include glazed bowls (Fig. 5:16, 17), a casserole (Fig. 5:18) and possibly sugar vessels (Fig. 5:19, 20). The field walls were apparently associated with agricultural activity involving the cultivation of sugar cane.
Area 3 (25 sq m) yielded a segment of a floor (Figs. 6, 7) comprised of large stone slabs. The soil accumulation above the floor contained a bowl dated to the end of the Byzantine period (Fig. 8:1), a bowl of the Umayyad period (Fig. 8:2) and late Byzantine jars (Fig. 8:3–5). A Roman Imperial coin from the beginning of the fourth century CE (IAA 149439) was found in the floor’s bedding. The floor was apparently part of a courtyard belonging to a late Byzantine structure, as suggested by the pottery. A Byzantine-period coin (408–423 CE; IAA 149435) was found on the surface nearby.
The excavation’s findings indicate activity at the site during the Byzantine–Early Islamic and Mamluk periods. Fragments of sugar vessels suggest an association with the sugar industry that flourished in Western Galilee during the thirteenth–fifteenth centuries (Stern et al. 2015). The site seems to have been part of an agricultural hinterland, consisting of interspersed areas of cultivation and habitation.
Frankel R. and Getzov N. 2012. ‘Amqa – 5 (The Archeological Survey of Israel).
Stern E.J., Getzov N., Shapiro A. and Smithline H. 2015. Sugar Production in the ‘Akko Plain from the Fatimid to the Early Ottoman Periods. In K.D. Politis ed. The Origins of the Sugar Industry and the Transmission of Ancient Greek and Medieval Arab Science and Technology from the Near East to Europe (Proceedings of the International Conference Athens, 23 May 2015). Athens. Pp. 79–112.