In the current excavation, five squares (c. 125 sq m; Fig. 2) were opened, on a moderate slope of a hill. Architectural remains and sections of alleys were exposed only in the three western squares. These remains were probably related to the structures previously uncovered by Shmueli (2013
). The antiquities date from the Late Roman to the Early Islamic periods.
Late Roman–Byzantine Period (Stratum III). Pottery sherds, mainly of Ashqelon jars (Fig. 3:1), were identified with certainty to this period (third–fifth centuries CE). Additionally, glass fragments of vessels typical of the fourth–fifth centuries CE, include bowls and bottles, two mold-blown body fragments, and several handles (not illustrated). In the absence of a clear context, it is difficult to know if some of the buildings and alleys already existed at this time.
Late Byzantine–Beginning of the Early Islamic Periods (Stratum II). Corners of two buildings (1, 2), two alleys (3, 4) and a section of a wall (W5) of an installation(?) (Figs. 2, 4, 5) were exposed. Construction on the slope forced the builders to consider the topography and erect fairly massive walls that faced the slope (W3, W4, W6; thickness 0.8–1.0 m). The outer faces of the walls were built of several courses of large, roughly hewn kurkar stones (0.5–0.7 m) bonded with gray mortar, and the inner faces and upper part of the walls were constructed of small and medium-sized stones. Wall 7, adjacent to W4 and built of medium-sized (0.36 × 0.50 m) and large stones (0.5 × 0.7 m), probably served as a retaining wall (Fig. 2: Section 1–1). Two sections of paving stones survived from among the floors in the buildings: one section (L509) near W3 in Building 1 and another (L519) near W1 in Building 2. The elevations of both sections of pavement were nearly identical.
An alley (3; L543, width c. 2 m; Fig. 6) paved with small stones was exposed between Buildings 1 and 2; numerous pottery sherds were found in the alley, particularly fragments of Gaza jars. Over time, the alley became covered over with collapse (L529, L541) and ceased to be used. Another alley (4; L540, width c. 3 m; Fig. 4) was revealed between Buildings 1 and 2, as well as a wall (W5; width c. 0.6 m), to their west, which may have been part of an installation (see Figs. 2, 4). Wall 5 was constructed of roughly hewn kurkar
stones (0.5 × 0.5 m) and coated with plastered. The floor of Alley 4 was built of stones, and tamped kurkar
soil and contained pottery sherds (L540). It abutted a concrete surface (L549), part of which was arched because of a terra-cotta pipe (Fig. 7) beneath it. A narrow space (L535; see Figs. 4, 5) of unclear function was found between the floor of the alley and W5. The floor was covered with a layer of ash mixed with loess, small stones and brown earth (L533, L539), collapsed stones (L527, L538) and accumulations of soft brown earth (loess?) mixed with stones (L534, L547). Numerous pottery vessels were found on the floor of the alley and in the overlying layer, mainly bowls, including a slipped bowl with a short everted ledge rim (Fig. 3:2), Type 3H LRC bowls (Fig. 3:3, 4; Hayes 1972
, Fig. 68), Type 10C LRC bowls (Fig 3:6–9; Hayes 1972
, Fig. 71) and Type 9B CRS bowls (Fig. 3:5; Hayes 1972
, Figs. 81, 82). Other ceramic finds included a base of a bowl (Fig. 3:10); kraters (Figs. 3:11–13; 8:1–3); cooking pots; casseroles and a lid (Fig. 8:4–8); several bag-shaped jars (Fig. 9:1); Gaza jars (Fig. 9:2–8), some of them early (Fig. 9:2–4); a cooking jug with a trefoil rim (Fig. 9:9); a juglet (Fig. 9:10); and a lamp (Fig. 9:11; see Sussman 2004
). A number of coins were also uncovered, including a Byzanto-Arab coin (IAA 154937) dating to the years 647–670 CE. Based on the finds, the end of this stratum is dated to the late seventh century CE.
Early Islamic Period (Stratum I). Alley 3 was covered with a tamped layer of soil and small stones (L526) that abutted W2 in Building 2. Based on the style of its construction and its elevation, this wall postdated the other architectural remains. Unlike the other walls, it was built of a single row of small and medium-sized kurkar stones bonded with black mud, and it was higher than W4 in Building 1 (this section was dismantled during the excavation) and adjacent W6 (Fig. 2).
The floor of Building 1 was also covered with tamped soil fill (L511). Two habitation levels (L507, L508) were identified above the floors of the previous stratum in Building 2. Over time, a section of W2 collapsed and its stones were found scattered among the accumulations of soil (L525) that covered Stratum I. The finds from the floors and soil accumulations above them yielded a variety of pottery vessels, including cups and bowls decorated with a red strip (Fig. 10:1); Islamic Fine Ware bowls (Fig. 10:2, 3); kraters (Fig. 10:6–11); a cooking-pot lid (Fig. 10:12); bag-shaped jars (Fig. 10:1–4), several of them with a tall, thickened upright neck (Fig. 11:3, 4; Magness 1993
, Form 6); and the base of a jug (Fig. 11:5). A fragment of black steatite (Fig. 11:6) was also found, as well as a Byzantine coin from 583–584 CE (IAA 154938) and an Abbasid coin from 750–830 CE (IAA 154936).
Two glazed bowls (Fig. 10:4, 5) were the latest finds discovered in the excavation.
The limited scope of the excavation and the distance from Shmueli’s excavation made it impossible to clearly link the buildings uncovered in the two excavations; nonetheless, it is likely that the terra-cotta pipe and W5 were part of the plastered installation, a section of which Shmueli (2013
) exposed. The buildings and alleys were used mainly until the second half of the seventh century CE. In the eighth century CE, changes were made to the structures and one of the alleys (3) went out of use.