The excavation area extends over a nari and chalk hill on the eastern border of the ‘Akko plain. Three sites are known in the vicinity: Sha‘ab village to the east, Horbat Beza‘ to the south and Horbat Ya‘anin to the northwest. Three previous excavations at Sha‘ab exposed burial caves from the Middle and Late Roman periods (Aviam 1997; Mokary 2000; Shaked 2000). Excavations at Horbat Beza‘ (License No. G-65/2007) exposed remains of an olive-oil press from the Middle Roman period. No excavations have yet been conducted at Horbat Ya‘anin, but a survey conducted there yielded pottery from various periods, ranging from the Bronze Age through to the Ottoman period (Getzov, pers. comm.).
Inspections preceding the excavation identified 24 sites, ten of which were excavated (Fig. 2), including three rock-cut winepresses (1–3), three ashlar quarries (1–3), a cistern, a limekiln and two tumuli (1, 2). A farming terrace and cupmarks were also documented. Fourteen stone-clearance heaps were not excavated.
Winepress 1 (Figs. 3, 4) comprises a square treading floor (L300; c. 2.5 × 2.7 m, max. depth 0.5 m) and a small collecting vat (L301) on its western side. After the winepress went out of use, the collecting vat was enlarged and converted into a cistern (min. depth 2 m) with a round mouth (diam. 1.3 m); its bottom was found filled with silt. The treading floor and the cistern were covered with terra rossa soil that contained body sherds of pottery vessels characteristic of the Roman period.
Winepress 2 (Figs. 5, 6) comprises a treading floor (4.0 × 4.2 m), a settling tank (L102; c. 0.6 × 0.9 m, depth 0.7 m) and a collecting vat (L103; 2.1 × 2.5 m, depth 1.75 m; Fig. 7). A large depression for installing a screw press was cut into the treading floor (L105). In the southeastern part of the treading floor were two large building blocks, and several additional blocks were found in its northeastern part. A rock-cut channel connected the base of the screw press to the settling tank, which was cut into the center of the western side of the treading floor and was fully coated with grayish plaster. An additional channel connected the settling tank to the collecting vat, whose floor was coated with white plaster. The collecting vat was found blocked by two layers of soil: the upper one (thickness 0.1 m) was free of stones and probably of alluvial origin, and the lower one consisted of a uniform accumulation of grayish soil mixed with small fieldstones and numerous jar fragments. Embedded on the sides of the vat were large jar fragments and small fieldstones that served as a base layer for plaster that was not preserved. On the northern side of the vat were five steps, mostly destroyed. A work surface (width 0.5 m) extended around the vat.
Three square and shallow auxiliary surfaces surrounded the treading floor: one in the south (L100; 2.5 × 2.8 m) and two in the east (L111—1.8 × 3.0 m, L112—1.8 × 2.5 m). All three surfaces slope toward the treading floor and each has a small, round collecting pit cut at its bottom (diam. and depth 0.45–0.60 m); a small quarry was revealed at the northwestern corner of Surface 112. The building blocks appear to be part of a wall that was not preserved and point to a later stage in the winepress, when the treading floor was reduced in size and the two eastern auxiliary surfaces were canceled. This is further supported by the small quarry in Surface 112. The entire winepress was probably coated in hydraulic plaster.
The ceramic assemblage from Collecting Vat 103 and its lining included jar rims (Fig. 8:9) characteristic of the Late Roman period (third century CE), dating the construction of the press, its period of use and the phase following its use to the Late Roman period.
Winepress 3 (Figs. 9, 10) comprises a treading floor (L302; 3.0 × 3.1 m) and a square collecting vat (L306; 1.5 × 1.5 m, depth 0.7 m). A rectangular notch (0.2 × 0.4 m, depth 0.35 m) was cut into the center of the treading floor for installing a screw press. The connection between the treading floor and the collecting vat was not preserved. A square pit (L304; 0.5 × 0.6 m, depth c. 0.3 m) cut into the northwestern corner of the vat’s floor served as a settling depression. The treading floor was found mostly exposed, but the collecting vat was found covered with terra rossa soil that contained potsherds characteristic of the Roman period.
Quarry 1 (L400; 4 × 8 m, depth 1.2 m; Fig. 11). A rectangular chalk quarry consisting of three quarrying steps (height c. 0.4 m each) surrounding a central pit. The quarrying steps comprised severance channels, stones that were quarried but still connected and negatives of stones that were removed from their place. A cupmark (L411; diam. c. 0.3 m, depth 0.2 m; Fig 12) cut into the floor probably served as an anchor point for a lifting device.
Quarry 2 (L304; 4 × 7 m, depth c. 1 m; Figs. 13, 14). A rectangular chalk quarry sloping west, consisting of three quarrying steps surrounding a central pit. The quarry comprises severance channels, stones that were quarried but still connected and negatives of stones that were removed from their place.
Quarry 3 (L307; 2.0 × 2.5 m, depth 0.65 m; Fig. 15). A small quarry with two quarrying steps surrounding a shallow central pit. In its northern part were a partially cut stone and two severance channels. The central pit was filled with terra rossa soil containing potsherds, including a Kefar Hananya Type 1E cooking bowl (Fig. 8:6), characteristic of the end of the Roman–beginning of the Byzantine period (mid-third–early fifth centuries CE).
Cistern (Fig. 16)
A cistern was exposed and partially documented during inspections preceding the excavation. Its opening is round (diam. 1 m), and it was found filled with terra rossa soil and rocks that dislodged from the ceiling.
Limekiln (Fig. 17)
A limekiln (L403; diam. c. 3 m, depth c. 3 m) was exposed on the slope of the hill. Its lower part is rock-cut, and its upper part was constructed of large and medium-sized fieldstones.
Tumulus 1 (diam. c. 8 m, max. height c. 0.5 m; Figs. 18, 19) is a shallow heap of small and medium-sized fieldstones interspersed with earth and bounded by two walls. Two layers were identified: an upper layer (L305) with dark brown earth and a lower layer (L308) with light brown earth. Pottery collected in both layers included cooking bowls of Kefar Hananya Type 1C (Fig. 8:2, 3) and Type 1D (Fig. 8:4, 5) characteristic of the end of the Roman–beginning of the Byzantine period (mid-third–late fourth centuries CE), Kefar Hananya Type 1E cooking bowls (Fig. 8:7) characteristic of the end of the Roman–early Byzantine period (mid-third–early fifth centuries CE) and two jar rims (Fig. 8:12) characteristic of the Late Roman period (third century CE).
Tumulus 2 (L404; diam. c. 10 m, height 0.5–1.5 m; Fig. 20). A large tumulus, situated on a slope descending to the south. It is surrounded by a wall of four courses, constructed of large fieldstones placed on bedrock, with small stones between them. A probe (L405; 1.2 × 2.5 m, depth to bedrock 0.4 m; Fig. 21) was sunk at its southern side. Pottery from the surface of the tumulus included Kefar Hananya Type 1E cooking bowls (Fig. 8:8) characteristic of the end of the Roman–middle of the Byzantine period (mid-third–early fifth centuries CE) and jars (Fig. 8:11) characteristic of the Late Roman period (third century CE), similar to those found in Tumulus 1. Pottery from the probe included a jar rim and the base of a fusiform juglet (not drawn) characteristic of the Hellenistic period, Kefar Hananya Type 1B cooking bowls (Fig. 8:1) characteristic of the Roman period (late first–early second centuries to the mid-fourth century CE) and a jar rim (Fig. 8:10) characteristic of the Early Roman period.
Scores of cupmarks (diam. 0.1–0.3 m, depth 0.1–0.2 m) were identified on the hilltop and on the southern slope of the hill, most on rock surfaces all over the excavation area and near the winepresses (Figs. 22, 23). They appear to have served as anchor points for awnings and for holding support poles for vines.
The excavation revealed the common rural landscape in the chalk hills east of the ‘Akko plain. This landscape was suitable for farming, as well as for agricultural installations and for quarrying of building blocks. Most agricultural activity in the area appears to date from the Late Roman period.