In November and December 2003, a salvage excavation was conducted in Bet Dagan (Permit No. A-4039; map ref. 183777/656889), prior to the laying of a main runoff-water pipeline. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Department of Public Works, was directed by J. Sharvit, with the assistance of S. Ya‘akov-Jam (administration), V. Essman (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (field photography), G. Bijovsky (numismatics), S. Ben Yehuda (plans) and M. Peilstöker and A. Ayalon (scientific consultation).
The excavation was conducted on either side of a drainage channel, south of Route 412 and 130 m northeast of the junction at the entrance to Bet Dagan (for background and references, see Gorzalczany and Jakoel 2013; Fig. 1). Two squares (A1, A3) excavated to the west of the drainage channel contained architectural remains and finds dated to the Late Byzantine period. Three squares (B1–B3; see Fig. 5) were excavated to the east of the drainage channel. No ancient remains were found in Sq B1; the other two contained architectural remains and finds from the Late Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Byzantine Period. To the west of the drainage channel in Sq A1 were the remains of a wall (W6; length 2.5 m, width 0.9 m; Fig. 2) founded on a layer of sand and built of two rows of roughly dressed limestone blocks with a fieldstone core without bonding material; the wall was preserved to a height of a single course. Soil accumulations (L109, L111, L112) on both sides of the wall contained fragments of Byzantine bowl (Fig. 3:1), casserole (Fig. 3:2) and storage jars (Fig. 3:3, 4). The wall had been damaged by development work prior to the excavation. Square A3 contained remains of a wall (W1; length 2.9 m, width 0.6 m; Fig. 4) founded on local sand (L108); the wall, preserved to the height of a single course, was built of dressed kurkar stones (0.2 × 0.3 × 0.3 m) laid as headers and stretchers with a debesh core of small fieldstones, crushed chalk and ash. Many body fragments of Byzantine jars were collected from both sides of the wall, as were 40 nummi coins (IAA 168925–168928) dating from the Late Byzantine to the Early Islamic period.
To the east of the drainage channel in Sq B2, a layer of crushed chalk (L121; thickness c. 6 cm; Fig. 5) contained coarse white tesserae, possibly the bedding of a floor from the Byzantine period. Square B3 contained a square installation bounded by walls (W7, W8, W12; Fig. 6) built of debesh of medium-sized fieldstones bonded together with a mortar of sand rich in shell fragments, crushed chalk and ash. The faces of the walls were coated with two layers of hydraulic plaster: the inner plaster layer was made of crushed chalk, ash and jar fragments and the outer layer consisted of thin orange plaster. A coarse white mosaic pavement (L115; tesserae dimensions 2–3 cm) was laid on a layer of orange plaster resembling the plaster coating the walls. A large collecting vat (L130; diam. c. 1.4 m) in the center of the installation yielded casserole fragments (Fig. 7:1) and many Byzantine jar fragments (Fig. 7:2–6). The remains of two walls (W9, W10) to the north of the installation may be part of the same installation, which may be a winepress similar to one uncovered in a nearby excavation (Peilstöker and Kapitaikin 1998).
Ottoman Period. The Byzantine remains in Sqs B2 and B3 lay beneath three layers of floors and floor bedding. The lowest of these was floor bedding (L118) made of sand and small fieldstones that yielded fragments of Ottoman tobacco pipes (Fig. 8:2, 4). On top of L118 was a floor (L117) made of stones dressed roughly on the upper side and interspersed with small fieldstones. The bedding (L110) of the upper floor (L106; Fig. 9) yielded a ceramic pipe (not drawn), a casserole (Fig. 8:1), a tobacco pipe (Fig. 8:3), an Ottoman coin from the middle of the nineteenth century (IAA 168929) and metal objects (Fig. 10) dating from the end of the Ottoman period. Floor 106 abutted a wall (W2) parallel to another wall (W4). Two parallel walls (W3, W5) to the north of these remains may be a continuation of the building found in the south. The walls were covered with soil accumulations containing modern finds that may be the remains of an Arab village that existed here until 1948.
Gorzalczany A. and Jakoel E. 2013. Bet Dagan. HA-ESI 125.
Peilstöker M. and Kapitaikin A. 1998. Bet Dagan. ESI 20:59*–60*.