Area A (Fig. 1)
Stratum 1. A layer of lake sediment was discovered at the bottom of the excavation (Fig. 2). Two foundation trenches were dug into this layer, into which two walls (W2—preserved length 5 m, W4—preserved length 7 m, preserved height of both walls 0.7 m; Fig. 3) were built of medium-sized fieldstones, one side of which was roughly hewn. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Late Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE) were discovered in the foundation trenches. Another wall (W1) was uncovered in the southern part of the area, but its relation to W4 was not ascertained in the excavation. It seems that the three walls belong to a building from the Byzantine period. A straightened level of gray-white mortar, resembling plaster (L109), was discovered at the height of the second course of Walls 1, 2 and 4. This might be the remains of a floor, overlain with a habitation level of the building from the Byzantine period. A uniform burnt layer was exposed inside the building between Walls 2 and 4, of which a material resembling asphalt was preserved.
Stratum 2. A new wall (W3) was built above W4 of Stratum 1 and negated the latter. Wall 3 adjoined the upper course of W2 of Stratum 1 and utilized that wall to delimit a room. An opening was set in W3, built of roughly hewn basalt stones (Fig. 4). A well-dressed threshold stone was not discovered in situ, but rather next to the opening in the stone collapse between Strata 1 and 2. Several potsherds from the Mamluk period were close to the walls of Stratum 2 in this collapse level, including painted and glazed bowls and also a handmade cooking pot, jugs and jars that are richly adorned with rich geometric designs. It seems that the remains in Stratum 2 belong to the southwestern corner of a building from the Mamluk period, probably dating to the thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE.
Stratum 3. Fieldstone collapse, consisting of roughly hewn masonry stones and a large amount of modern refuse, was discovered in the area of the building above Stratum 2. A concrete floor was exposed at almost the highest elevation in the excavation, directly below the lawn of the holiday village, and slightly above it were several remains of the Circassian village of Samra (Fig. 5). Fragments of pottery vessels from the Ottoman period, iron tools and a large amount of debris from the time of the Circassian village were discovered in this layer. On the basis of the mixed finds it seems that the upper part of the site was cultivated and disturbed in the modern era.
Area B (Fig. 6)
Stratum 1. Remains of a bathhouse that was built inside a layer of lake sediment were exposed. The foundations of the building’s walls were supported by fieldstones and constructed in foundation trenches that were filled with very hard, grayish white mortar. Pottery from the Byzantine period was exposed in the foundation trenches indicating that the bathhouse was built no earlier than the end of the sixth–beginning of the seventh centuries CE. Two rooms (A, B; Fig. 7) separated by a passage were revealed in the building. The southern Room A was bounded by walls that were built of ashlars bonded with mortar and plastered. The room was paved with excellent quality stone tiles (L119; size of tiles 0.5 × 0.5 m). Remains of colonnettes built of ceramic tiles (0.2 × 0.2 m; Fig. 8) were discovered in the room; some of them were square and some were circular. Remains of tubuli that were engaged in the walls’ plaster were also discovered in Room A. The remains in Room A indicate that it was used as a hypocaust. The three walls (W6, W9, W11) and floor (L123) in Room B were coated with plaster. Benches built of ceramic colonnettes and plastered were discovered along the three walls of the room (Fig. 9). On the floor of the room (L120) were numerous fragments of pottery vessels, including a complete cooking pot from the Umayyad period (Figs. 10; 11:5). The plan of the room and the plaster on the walls, benches and floor indicate that this room was also part of the bathhouse and might have been used as a pool. A layer of soil was discovered beneath the floor of Room B (L123). The soil was mixed with a few small fieldstones and potsherds, among them a fragment of an imported LRC bowl (Fig. 11:1) that dates to the late sixth and early seventh centuries CE, a fragment of a deep CRS bowl (Fig. 11:2) that usually appears with two horizontal handles and its date is similar to the first bowl, and also two deep kraters (Fig. 11:3, 4) and three jar fragments (Fig. 11:8–10) dating to the Umayyad period. Two ceramic lids (Fig. 11:6, 7) possibly dating to the Roman period were discovered above the floor of Room B. Potsherds from the Abbasid period were discovered in one basket from the surface level. On the basis of the ceramic assemblage below Floor 123, it seems that the floor of Room B was built at the earliest in the late seventh century CE.
Stratum 2. The passage between the two rooms was closed in a later phase. A wall (W5) was built in the eastern side of Room B, delimiting the eastern side of the room. It seems that in this phase the floor of Room B (L118) was raised and a staircase that led to the room from east to west was built (L117; Fig. 9). Ceramic artifacts dating to the Umayyad period (end of the seventh century CE) were discovered on the floor of the room. It seems that in this phase the two rooms of the bathhouse, exposed in Stratum 1, went out of use, or perhaps they were used for some other domestic purpose. An iron rifle bayonet was discovered west of Room B, between ancient building stones that were dislodged from W9 by modern cultivation. The bayonet was poorly preserved, but its shape points to a possible date in the mid-twentieth century.
Area C (Fig. 12)
A room bounded by three walls (W7, W12, W13), built of medium-sized fieldstone in dry construction, was exposed. The floor of the room (L125) consisted of crushed chalk and tamped earth, and a column drum not in situ, was discovered above it. A small amount of potsherds, mostly dating to the Umayyad period (late seventh–early eighth centuries CE) and worn as a result of the intensive irrigation, were discovered on the floor. Two of the potsherds are unusual in that they are fragments of flasks (Fig. 13); one is decorated with a star and belongs to a mold-made flask dating to the Early Islamic period, and the other is adorned with an arch-like decoration of a magnificent building and dates to the Crusader and Mamluk periods. The ceramic artifacts from the room include domestic vessels, such as jars, cooking utensils and serving dishes.
Four main phases were exposed in the excavation. The earliest phase, at the end of the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE), consisted of a building and a bathhouse that included a hypocaust and a pool. These continued to be used in the Umayyad period, in the seventh century CE. The bathhouse indicates that this was a rich community. A mosaic floor of a church from the Byzantine period, which also reflects the wealth of the settlement, had previously been exposed near the current excavation. The excavator of the church suggested that a monastery might also have been located at the site. The bathhouse may have exploited the saltwater and hot water springs near the site for its operation and was apparently part of the monastery complex. During the Umayyad period, in the second phase, changes were made to the two rooms of the bathhouse and they were adapted for domestic use. The room in Area C, which was probably part of a domestic complex, is also ascribed to this phase. In the third phase, remains of a building from the Mamluk period were exposed inside the building in Area A. In the latest phase, the Circassian village of Samra was built in most of the excavation area, while utilizing the ancient architectural remains at the site. In the 1980s, the building remains of this village were demolished and an upper layer of remains from the village was created in the area together with ancient remains, irrigation pipes and much debris.