In March–April 2020, a trial excavation was conducted at Horbat Burgeta, northeast of Kefar Yona (Permit No. A-8730; map ref. 195445–512/691671–711; Fig. 1), prior to development. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Mekorot Company Ltd., was directed by A. Massarwa, with the assistance of D. Massarwa (area supervising), Z. Lotan and Y. Amrani (administration), A. Dagot (GPS), I. Jonish (field and drone photography), Y. Gomani and S. Emmanuilov (surveying, drafting and photogrammetry), P. Gendelman (pottery), Y. Tepper (guidance) and A. ‘Azab from the IAA Central District, with the participation of inspectors of the IAA Central District and workers from other IAA units.
Horbat Burgeta extends over the southern slope of a hamra hill. In 1874, the site was surveyed by the PEF team, who documented a Crusader fortress that was preserved 19 m high (Conder and Kitchener 1882:178). An excavation conducted at the site in 1983 exposed remains of a Medieval tower and later structures (Pringle 1986). A survey conducted at the site as part of the Kefar Yona Survey Map identified remains of a tower and vaults (Yanai 2017: Site 50). Today, only part of the tower’s southern wall, its loophole and a partly preserved barrel vault on the ground floor are visible.
The present excavation comprised six squares, located about 50 m south of the remains of the tower (Fig. 2); these exposed remains of a limekiln and a habitation level from the Byzantine period.
Limekiln (Figs. 3, 4). Squares D4 and E4 yielded the round firing chamber of a limekiln (L112; max. diam. c. 4.5 m, max. depth c. 2.5 m), which was dug into the hamra soil. The kiln was lined with medium-sized dressed dolomite blocks bonded with earth that turned red due to the high temperature within the kiln. Three steps were installed in the wall of the firing chamber. The upper step (W116; diam. c. 4.5 m, width 0.5 m) was constructed three courses high. The middle step (W117; diam. c. 3.5 m, width c. 0.45 m) was constructed four courses high and was topped by a hamra layer (thickness c. 0.3 m). The lowest step (W118; diam. c. 3 m, width c. 0.45 m) was constructed two courses high. Several repairs are visible in the kiln’s wall. Some of the stones in the firing chamber show evidence of damage from exposure to high temperatures, while others bear traces of a mudbrick covering. Numerous scattered stones in the firing chamber may be part of the collapsed roof. Below these stones, at the bottom of the chamber, were limestone blocks arranged in circles, apparently intended for burning as part of the lime production but left within the chamber. Below these stones was a thin layer of lime (thickness c. 0.15 m) that rested on an ash layer (thickness c. 0.2 m).
On the western side of the kiln, at the center of the second step, was the opening of a ventilation channel (width 0.3 m), constructed of two upright-standing dolomite blocks. The east–west ventilation channel (L114; exposed length c. 7 m, width c. 0.5 m, depth c. 0.5 m; Fig. 5) is trapeze-shaped. It was dug in the ground and lined and covered by large, dressed dolomite blocks; its roof was partly preserved. The channel slopes eastward, from the surface to the firing chamber.
The kiln yielded bowls (Fig. 6:1) and jars (Fig. 6:2, 3) from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE), as well as a Samaritan lamp (Fig. 6:4) dating from the sixth century CE. An earth accumulation in the firing chamber yielded bowls (Fig. 7:1, 2) and jars (Fig. 7:3) from the Ottoman period (fifteenth–sixteenth centuries CE), which were probably washed into the chamber.
Habitation Level (Fig. 8). Square J4 revealed a poorly preserved habitation level (L111, L113; c. 0.7 × 1.0 m), comprising small fieldstones bonded with earth and interspersed with potsherds. On the habitation level and around it were bowls (Fig. 9:1), casserole (Fig. 9:2) and jars (Fig. 9:3–10) from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE).
The limekiln and a habitation level from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE) documented in the excavation along with the finds from previous excavations conducted at the site suggest a continuity of settlement from the Byzantine period to the modern era.
Conder C.R. and Kitchener H.H. 1882. The Survey of Western Palestine II: Samaria. London.
Pringle D. 1986. The Red Tower (al-Burj al-Ahmar): Settlement in the Plain of Sharon at the Time of the Crusaders and Mamluks A.D. 1099–1516 (BSAJ Monograph Series 1). London.