In August 2018, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Bet Eli‘ezer neighborhood in Hadera (Permit No. A-8338; map ref. 19447–53/70434–44; Fig. 1), prior to development. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Ganey Snir Yizum Vebniya company, was directed by A. Chocron, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography) and R. Be’eri (guidance).
The excavation was conducted about 1 km south of Nahal Hadera, on agricultural land characterized by clayey soil above hamra soil, and it revealed the remains of a bedding and a Byzantine-period fish-breeding pool (Fig. 2).
Past excavations in the area revealed the remains of a settlement and agricultural installations dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods (for background and references, see Torgë 2015) and glass kilns that testify to a glass production workshop at the site (Gorin-Rosen 2000).
The southern part of the excavation revealed a segment of a bedding made of stones and potsherds overlain by remains of Roman concrete (L12, L17; Figs. 3, 4). Among the potsherds in the bedding were a bag-shaped jar from the Roman period (first–early second centuries CE; Fig. 5:1), as well as a CRSW bowl (Fig. 5:2) and an amphora (Fig. 5:8), both from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE).
The norther part of the excavation revealed the remains of a fish-breeding pool (L10; Figs. 6–9). Only the western part of the pool was excavated, exposing three of its walls (W14–W16; max. preservation height 0.8 m) and its floor (L11). The walls were constructed of poured Roman concrete, of the type found over the bedding. Projections on the outside face of the concrete walls served to buttress them. Remains of ledge-like elements along the inside of the walls apparently served to support spawning jars; some fragments of these were found. A stone-covered channel (Fig. 11) led to the pool from the south and probably fed it with water from a nearby tributary of Nahal Hadera. The pool had a white mosaic floor, decorated with a cross within a circle (Fig. 12). A round depression in the center of the floor—a settling pit —was also paved with mosaic. Round, shallow depressions observed in the floor may have resulted from the removal of decorated mosaic sections. A wall (W21; Fig. 13) abuts the pool on the west, but its context is not clear. Byzantine-period pottery was found in the pool; it included a CRSW bowl (sixth–seventh centuries CE; Fig. 5:3), a cooking pot (fifth–seventh centuries CE; Fig. 5:4), a casserole (sixth–seventh century CE; Fig. 5:5), a bag-shaped jar (sixth–seventh centuries CE; Fig. 5:6) and an amphora (fifth–sixth centuries CE; Fig. 5:7).
Similar fish pools with a settling pit were found at Khirbat Sabiya (Ayalon 1979) and in Caesarea (Area E; P. Gendelman, pers. comm.). Fish-breeding pools are common in the Roman world and in Israel (for a discussion, see Dalali-Amos and Tepper 2017). These findings expand our understanding of the Byzantine-period settlement at the site. Already known for its importance to the glass industry of the period, the practice of fish farming should now be added to the activities undertaken by the site’s inhabitants.
Ayalon E. 1979. The Jar Installation of Khirbet Sabiya. IEJ 29:175–181.
Dalali-Amos E. and Tepper Y. 2017. ‘Illu
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Gorin-Rosen Y. 2000. The Ancient Glass Industry in Israel: Summary of the Finds and New Discoveries. La route du verre (TMO 33). Lyon. Pp. 49–63.