Area G (length 305 m, max. width 44 m; Fig. 2) was divided into eight main areas (G1–G8), which were further divided into 16 sub-areas. This area is a direct continuation of Area C (Nadav-Ziv, Haddad and Seligman 2023). The publication of Area G will be divided into four parts (Areas G1 and G2 [Haddad et al. 2024]; Areas G3, G4 and G8; Areas G5 and G7; and Area G6). The excavations in Area G exposed remains from a variety of periods, dating from the Iron Age to the modern era (Haddad et al. 2024: Table 1). Area G3 (38 excavation squares) revealed Iron Age graves, Byzantine pillared houses and kiln waste, Umayyad pottery kilns, and a grave, structural remains and a hoard of 425 gold coins from the Abbasid period. Area G4 (26 excavation squares) revealed structural remains and a large refuse heap from the Byzantine period, as well as Abbasid domestic dwellings. Area G8 (15 excavation squares) was opened northwest of Areas G3 and G4, revealing structural remains supplementing those found in these areas.
Area G3 (Figs. 3–5)
Stratum XVII or XII—The Iron Age or the Early Roman Period?
Two pit graves (T32142, T32143) in the northern part of the area were dug in light sand. Their date is unknown, but they could be stratigraphically dated to the Iron Age or the Early Roman period.
Stratum X—The Early Byzantine Period
This stratum yielded the earliest architectural remains from the excavation area; they were found throughout most of the area. These include sections of a pillared house (Building I), with open spaces to its north and south. An additional pillared house may have stood to the west of the northern open space. All architectural remains from this stratum were founded on sand.
Building I is an east–west rectangular structure (exposed dimensions c. 9.5 × 16.5 m). Only robber trenches remain of its northern (W32189) and southern (W32883) walls. Within the building are three north–south rows of pillars, each consisting of four pillars. Four pillar bases were preserved in the western row, three in the central row and a single base was preserved in the eastern row. The pillars within each row are spaced at a distance of 3.35 m, while the gap between the rows is 1.9–2.0 m. Only the northwestern pillar was preserved on its base; it was constructed of two rectangular dressed stones interspersed with two square stones. The other pillars preserved only their bases. An accumulation of brown earth above the sand and between the pillar bases (L32549, L32621) contained Byzantine-period pottery. Within the building were several similar patches of flooring; all were part of a single floor, made of pieces of white lime plaster. The collapsed ceiling of the building contained plaster fragments consolidated with seashells; its remains were found in an even layer (average thickness 0.15 m), at the elevation of the top of the pillar bases.
South of House I is an open space, preserving two patches of floor (L32840, L32863). North of House I is a complex of walls and floors of at least two spaces (Fig. 6); these are separated by a north–south wall (W32107; preserved length 14.8 m) that was cut at its northern and southern ends by robber trenches (W32189 and L32266, respectively). The wall was constructed of one row of ashlars with coarse gray bonding material between them. Its foundations are constructed of small stones and shells, bonded with coarse gray bonding material. On the western side of W32107 are two engaged pillars: the southern is a single ashlar, and the northern was only partly preserved. The entire eastern face of the wall is coated with a smoothed plaster layer (rolka). The wall is abutted on the east by a multi-phase floor made of layers of crushed white lime pieces, brown packed-earth layers and a thick layer of potsherds (L32165; Fig. 7). A floor of similar composition (L32288, L32626) was exposed west of the wall. The engaged pillars on the western side of the wall and the rolka on its eastern side indicate that to the west of the wall was a building, while to its east was an open, paved courtyard.
Stratum IX—The Late Byzantine Period
Stone workshop. West of W32107 and above a layer of soil (thickness 0.15 m) that had accumulated on Floor 32626 from Stratum X were scatters of ashlars for construction (L32559; Fig. 8). North of the ashlars were chalk and limestone chips, as well as tesserae fragments (L32557), indicating the presence of a mosaic workshop.
Building F. At the northern edge of the area was a part of a long, narrow southeast–northwest building; its continuation was exposed to the east and west, in Areas G2 (Haddad et al. 2024) and G8 (below), respectively. The southern wall of the building (W32190) was found in a robber trench. About 3 m north of W32190, within the building, were two pillars constructed on sand, spaced 3.5 m apart. North of the pillars were sections of a layer (L32065) composed of pieces of white lime-plaster, gray bonding material with shells and small stones; these may be the remnants of a ceiling that collapsed into the building.
Additional Remains. A layer composed of pieces of white lime plaster and bonding material with numerous shells (L32198), similar to the layer found in Building F, was exposed east of W32107. As in Building F, this layer seems to be the collapsed remains of a ceiling, perhaps belonging to an additional pillared house that has yet to be exposed.
An east–west wall in the southwestern part of the area (W32747; length 4.65 m, width 0.4 m, preserved height 1.4 m; Fig. 9) was preserved three courses high in its eastern part. It was apparently intended to delimit the heap of kiln-waste to its south, in Area G4 (below), and prevent it from spilling northward.
Stratum VII—The Umayyad Period
This stratum comprises a small industrial area with three pottery kilns (L32036, L32175, L32606; Fig. 10; for a discussion of the kilns and their waste, see Tsuf 2022). The kilns were built as a single complex, and their state of preservation is not uniform. Kilns 32036 and 32175 were fully excavated, while Kiln 32606 was only partially exposed due to the good preservation of the firing chamber floor. North of Kiln 32036 were several walls, seemingly part of a structure associated with the kilns. The walls exposed in this stratum were built above architectural remains from Stratum X and cancelled them. East of the kilns was a layer of kiln waste (L32121), comprising hundreds of fragments of Gaza jars (LRA 4). This waste probably originates from these kilns.
Kiln 32175 is oval-shaped (2.2 × 2.4 m), partly preserved and built into a layer of sand. Part of its firing chamber floor, made of brick material and perforated, was preserved adjacent to its northern and southern sides, at 26.89 m asl. In the firing box were three pillars, supporting rectangular bricks (0.35 × 0.50 m) that laid on their narrow side that served as the base of the firing chamber. Northeast of the kiln, 2 m below its preserved top, was a northwest–southeast wall stub (W32279; length 1.67 m, width 0.55 m) constructed of three courses of stones. It may have been part of an unlocated system of walls abutting the opening of the kiln.
Kiln 32606 is round (diam. 2.88 m). Although only part of its firing chamber wall was preserved (preserved height 0.5 m), the floor of the firing chamber (L32709; diam. c. 2.3 m) was almost completely preserved at 27.43–27.57 m asl. It was constructed of several layers of brick material and has four north–south double rows of perforations (diam. 7–8 cm) at irregular intervals (0.25–0.35 m). Due to the good state of preservation of the floor, the kiln was not fully excavated. It is possible that its firing box comprised a two-three pillars, carrying the bricks that supported the chamber floor. The meager pottery found above the firing chamber floor cannot serve as evidence for the types of vessels fired in the kiln.
Kiln 32036 is round (diam. 2.3 m) and partly preserved. Its firing chamber floor was constructed at 28.13 m asl. The firing chamber itself was not preserved, and it appears to have been removed during activity at the site in Stratum VI (below). In the firing box were remains of three east–west pillars, constructed of fired bricks and supporting the firing chamber floor. Only the southern pillar was fully preserved. The pillars were placed on the sides of a narrow channel, which creates a rectangular shape at the bottom of the chamber. In the northern wall of the firing box was a stoking opening (0.3 × 0.7 m). A corridor (width 2.2 m) leading to the opening from the north was flanked by two parallel walls (W32174, W32669); it is possible that steps in the corridor allowed access to the kiln, but these were not preserved.
Additional Remains. In Building F, between two of its pillar bases (L32126 in Area G2, L32127 in Area G3; Haddad et al. 2024), runs an arched drainage channel (L32104; exposed length 9.5 m), which continues a channel (L31531) in Area G2.
Stratum VI—The Abbasid period (Fig. 5)
This stratum saw a change in the settlement pattern. The industrial activity that characterized the site in previous strata ceased, and the area became a residential area.
The Early Phase (VIb) yielded a pit grave and structural remains. The grave (T32141) is oriented east–west; it is located within Building F but dates to a later period. The head of the interred was found above Channel 32104 from Stratum VII. The grave was stratigraphically dated to the Early Islamic period.
Directly above the remains of Building I from Stratum X are the remains of two buildings, western and eastern, separated by a corridor. The eastern building was poorly preserved, and only its western part survived (length 7 m). Three of its walls were exposed, bounding the building on the north (W32123), west (W32124) and south (W32512). The floor of the building was likely made of packed earth.
In the western building (width 7 m), the western (W32587), southern (W32867, W32775) and eastern (W32581) walls were exposed; the northern wall was not preserved. Within the structure, adjacent to its southern wall (W32775), was a tabun (L32798, diam. 0.63 m, height c. 0.3 m); a ceramic tube was inserted into its northern wall for stoking.
A north–south corridor (length 5.8 m, width 2 m) extends between the eastern and western buildings. Its entrance (width 0.85 m) was set in the south. The floor of the corridor, made of crushed stones (L32624), was laid on a sand bedding.
The Late Phase (VIa). The remains from this stratum cancel some of the remains from Stratum VII. The nature of the settlement in this stratum continues the domestic character of Stratum VIb.
The center of the area revealed remains of a large, north–south rectangular building (8 × 18 m). It comprises at least four wings, surrounding a central courtyard. Part of the western wing was exposed in Area G8. The outer walls of the building (W32095, W32096, W32516, W32521) were dry-constructed with small stones and preserved three course high. The central courtyard (3 × 4 m) was apparently open; its floor was made of packed earth (L32611). On the floor (L32554) were stone items, including a lower grinding stone and a mortar and pestle for grinding grains and food preparation. Installations and other finds in the surrounding rooms provide further evidence of grain grinding for cooking or baking.
In the southern room of the eastern wing is a stone floor (L32116), incorporating a basalt grinding stone. On the floor (L32011) were some stone items, including basalt and limestone pestles, indicating grain grinding activity. A living surface (L32151) in the central room of this wing shows at least six stages of repair or raising, indicating a long period of use. Cooking and baking installations set into the surface included five tabuns (L32122, L32131, L32145, L32146, L32196), each of which was likely installed during a subsequent stage of the renewal of the surface. Pottery collected during the exposure of the different stages of the surface and above the surface (L32139) included an intact Abbasid lamp.
In the southwestern room of the building, above a stone floor (L32526), were earth accumulations (L32506). These yielded stone items related to food preparation, as well as pottery dating from the Abbasid period.
In the southeastern corner of the building is a rectangular cesspit (L32772; 1.75 × 2.14 m, preserved height 1.27 m), dug into the ground and lined with small and medium-sized fieldstones. In the lower part of the cesspit was an intact buff-ware jug dating from the Abbasid period (L32726; Fig. 11).
About 12 m north of the building were the remains of a wall foundation (W32537). Adjacent to the wall were a floor (L32115) and a cesspit (L32187). Although the wall, floor and cesspit share the same orientation as the building to their south, they probably relate to another building that was not preserved. A pottery vessel west of W32537 (L32501, B325038) contained 425 Abbasid gold dinars (Nadav-Ziv at al. 2022: Fig. 14). It is probable that the owner of the building cached the coins in his home with the hope of recovering them in the future.
Area G4 (Fig. 12)
Stratum X—The Early Byzantine Period
This stratum yielded a pillared hall, a concentration of jars and a refuse heap, all of which continued in the adjacent Areas G3 and G8.
Pillared Hall. Six pillars were exposed, three in the eastern part of the area (W33529, W33530, W33531) and three in its western part (W33539, W33540, W33544); they were founded on light sand over bedrock. The pillars in the eastern part of the area continue the southern and central rows of pillars of Building I in Area G3 (above). An additional pillar (W43128) continuing this row was found in Area G8 (below). Several floor levels of packed, crushed lime plaster (L33489) abut the eastern pillars.
Concentration of Jars and Refuse Heap. At the southern edge of the area was a circular row of adjacent Gaza jars (Figs. 13, 14). The jars were found upside down, in situ. Adjacent to the row of Gaza jars were two bag-shaped jars, standing upright. All jars date from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE). Their purpose is unclear, but it is possible that they bounded an adjacent refuse heap.
Stratum IX—The Late Byzantine Period
Activity in the area reached its peak in this stratum. The pillared hall from Stratum X remained in use, but its size decreased. A massive north–south wall (W33310) was built in the western part of the hall, connecting two of its pillars (W33539, W33540). In W33310, to the north of and adjacent to Pillar 33540, was a threshold. At its southern end, W33310 abuts a massive east–west wall (W33497) with an ashlar buttress (W33375) on its southern side.
The refuse heap at the southern end of the area (diam. c. 20 m, max. height 2.5 m; Fig. 15) continued to grow in this stratum. It was excavated to its full depth and seems to extend beyond the excavation area. The heap primarily comprises pottery production waste, including intact and broken vessels, glass vessels, coins, animal bones and organic material. The composition of the heap is characteristic of an industrial activity area; most of it is industrial waste and the remainder is byproducts of human activity within the industrial area, such as food remains and daily items. The refuse was evidently discarded from south to north and to the sides. As the heap expanded, the row of upside-down Gaza jars that delimited it in Stratum X was completely covered. A new delimiting wall (W33426), apparently the continuation of W32747 from Area G3 (above), was constructed to the north of the heap, into a layer of potsherds at its northern edge. This wall was likely intended to keep the heap from advancing northward, but its upper courses were robbed, and the heap eventually covered it completely.
Strata VIII–VII—The Late Byzantine–Umayyad Periods
Although these strata yielded no architectural remains, it appears that the refuse heap from the earlier strata remained in use, albeit on a very modest scale. Based on the few Umayyad potsherds found at the top of the heap, its use seems to have ceased in the late seventh–early eighth centuries CE.
Stratum VI—The Abbasid Period
In this stratum, Abbasid living surfaces and fills abutted the refuse heap from the previous strata from the north and primarily from the east (Area G3), completely covering and cancelling it.
The Early Phase (VIb). During this phase, the area was converted into a domestic enclosure. Two structures, eastern and western, were exposed. Their floors were raised and laid over an earth fill (average thickness 0.5 m).
The eastern structure runs in an east–west orientation; its eastern side was exposed in Area G3. The excavation revealed the northeastern corner of the structure (W33037, W33344) and the remains of a corridor attached to it from the east and north. The structure’s western and southern walls were not located. Within the structure was an east–west row of three pillars (W33085, W33110, W33148), evenly spaced at a distance of 2.4 m from each other. The eastern (W33085) and central (W33110) pillars are oval-shaped; they were constructed of a cluster of medium-sized fieldstones and preserved one to two courses high. The western pillar (W33148) was constructed using a column base in secondary use, likely robbed from an older building; similar column bases were uncovered in the storehouses of the wineries in Area C1 (Nadav-Ziv, Haddad and Seligman 2023Seligman, Haddad and Nadav-Ziv 2023) and in Area G1 (Haddad et al. 2024). The pillars are abutted by several floors (L33131, L33177), made of packed earth with patches of plaster and chalk; they protrude about 0.2 m above the floors.
The western structure preserved two rooms, northern and southern, separated by a long and narrow corridor. The walls of the rooms abut walls of the earlier strata. The northern room preserved its southern wall (W33071), as well as its western wall (W33124), which was built during the late Byzantine period and continued in use in this stratum. A plaster floor (L33538) abuts W33071 from the north; on the floor were potsherds dating from the Early Islamic period (L33535). The southern room preserved its northern (W33137) and southern (W33154) walls, abutting on the west W33310 from the late Byzantine period, which was renovated at this time. Within this room was a floor (L33463).
The Late Phase (VIa). During this phase, the domestic area expanded northward and activity in the residential units from the previous phase continued, leading to an increase in the domestic character of the area.
The northeastern part of the area revealed part of a structure with at least three rooms arranged in a north–south row. The northern room (1) yielded three tabuns (L33292, L33293, L33364), whereas the southern room (3) yielded only one tabun (L33033).
The corridor that originally separated the northern and southern rooms of the western structure of Phase VIb was cancelled, and a wall (W33034) was built over it to separate the rooms. The rooms of the structure utilized W33310 from Stratum IX to their west, raising it to the level of the living surface of this stratum (L33438). Two tabuns (L33397, L33422) installed into the living surface, adjacent to the southern wall of the southern room of the structure, were separated by a short partition wall (W33541).
Area G8 (Fig. 16)
Stratum X—The Early Byzantine Period
A pillar at the southwestern edge of the area (W43128; 0.85 × 0.85 m, preserved height 1.2 m) continues the pillars in House I of Areas G3 and G4 (above); its base and four courses were preserved. The outer faces of the pillar were constructed of rectangular dressed stones, interspersed with small stones.
Additional elements from this stratum include sections of floor beddings and floors, made of chunks of crushed and packed chalk (L43089, L43114, L43125, L43129, L43143, L43147). The floor beddings were laid on sand; they seem to extend westward beyond the excavation area and eastward into Areas G2 (Haddad et al. 2024) and G3 (above).
Stratum IX—The Late Byzantine Period
Several architectural units were exposed; some were established in this stratum on sand and bedrock, while others are additions and changes to architectural units from Stratum X.
The northern part of the area revealed bases of three pillars (W43026, W43040, W43053), continuing the row of pillars in Building F of Areas G2 (Haddad et al. 2024) and G3 (above). The central pillar (W43026), preserved one course high, was constructed of rectangular ashlars. The two other pillars preserved only their bases, which were made of a casting of gray plaster, small fieldstones and crushed shells.
Above the floor beddings of Stratum X was part of a structure with three walls abutting each other (W43081, W43136, W43137); they divided the structure into at least four rooms (1–4). To the southwest were sections of two additional rooms (5, 6), aligned northeast–southwest. In Room 6, a packed lime-plaster floor (L43106) abuts the walls of the room.
Stratum VI—The Abbasid Period
The Early Phase (VIb). This phase yielded meager finds, comprising only two floor sections in a poor and fragmentary state of preservation: one (L43046) made of a packed chalk, and the other (L43101) made of packed earth mixed with potsherds.
The Late Phase (VIa). Remains from this phase were found throughout most of the excavation area, primarily cancelling previous remains. They comprise parts of two buildings, northern and southern. The northern building preserved only the foundations of its southeastern corner (W43014, W43033). A floor bedding (L43119), likely of a room, abuts the building from the north. Of the southern building, only the southeastern wing was exposed; it apparently continues westward, beyond the excavation area. This wing comprises two parallel walls (W43001, W43002). The southern end of W43002 abuts an additional wall (W43017), creating a corner. To the east of the northern part of W43002 is a short partition wall (W43003), dividing the structure’s interior. The plan of this building is similar to that of the Abbasid courtyard structure exposed in Area G3 (above), suggesting it may be the western continuation of that building. South of W43017 is another architectural unit, perhaps of the same structure. Within the unit were cooking and baking installations, including a round tabun (L43027; diam. 0.65 m) and a semicircular installation (L43066; diam. c. 1.4 m) constructed of medium-sized fieldstones. Within the installation were several layers of soft ash. Adjacent to the west of the tabun is a short north–south wall segment (W43076).
In the southwestern part of the area was a rectangular cesspit (L43037; internal dimensions 0.9 × 1.6 m, preserved height 1.75 m), dug in sand. Three of the pit’s walls were exposed; they were lined with small and medium-sized stones. Square openings at the bottom of the walls allowed liquids to drain from the pit. Within the pit (L43098, L43107) were potsherds dating from the Abbasid period. An almost intact small jar was found at the bottom of the pit (Fig. 17).