orbat Mishkena lies on an elongated spur-like hill in the east of the T
ur‘an Valley, c. 1 km north of the Golani Junction. The eastern part of the site contains a burial ground, with the main settlement area located to its west. V. Guérin visited the site in the mid-nineteenth century CE and documented rock-hewn water cisterns, outlines of collapsed walls of houses, rock-hewn tombs and a large pool (Guérin 1880:183). A survey conducted at the beginning of the 2000s documented agricultural installations, water cisterns and rock-hewn burial caves at the site; the collected pottery dates from the Early Roman to the Early Islamic periods (Leibner 2009:284). On the site’s southern and western fringes, several excavations conducted before the expansion of the Golani Junction road network revealed a Middle Bronze IIA habitation level (Alexandre 2012a),
remains of an Iron Age IIA building (Feig 2016
) and three Roman and Byzantine winepresses, a cistern and a bell-shaped pit (Mokary 2012
). Two hiding complexes were recorded at the site (Shivtiel 2014:201–205), including the complex described below. The Roman ‘Akko (Ptolemais)–Z
ippori–Tiberias road passed to the south of the site. Over the years, sections of this road were uncovered to the east of the Golani Junction (Roll 1995:39–40) and to north of the junction (Stepansky 2000; 2002; Alexandre 2012b
; Berger 2013
). Near the part of the road north of the Golani Junction, a milestone station identified in the past contained four stones, one bearing an inscription from the rule of the emperor Caracalla (Shenhav 1985; Tepper 2018:17*).
Horbat Mishkena is mentioned twice in the Jerusalem Talmud by the name of Masqana (JT Berakhot 9, 5, 68:2, JT Sanhedrin 3, 1, 14:2). A description of the Battle of Hattin names a village called Marescalcia/Manescalcia, where the Crusader army was camped, while the Muslim army was camped at a nearby place called Salnubia (Libellus 1875:223). Prawer (1964:121; see also Kedar 1991:104–107) proposed identifying the camp of the Crusader army as Horbat Mishkena and that of the Muslim army at nearby Lubia.
The Hiding Complex (Fig. 2). A rock-hewn underground complex documented in the western part of the site (map ref. 238736/743259) was reached via a vertical, round entrance shaft (A; diam. 0.7–0.8 m, depth 1.1 m; Fig. 3). The shaft’s opening was surrounded by numerous masonry stones, which had probably been transferred from their original location by antiquities robbers, and they may have been originally part of an entrance structure that was built above the shaft’s opening. At the bottom of the shaft, on its southeastern side, an opening was cut that led to a low passage (a-b; length 1.5 m, width 0.5 m, height 0.9 m; Fig. 4). On the southern wall of the passage, near this opening and a step at the bottom of the passage, an elongated niche was hewn in the rock, possibly to accommodate a sealing slab for blocking off the complex. At the southeastern end of Passage a-b, an opening surrounded by a stepped frame (Fig. 5) led to a passage (a-bi; length c. 2.5 m), which continued southward as far as an intersection with two other passages (a-bii, a-biii). Niches for oil lamps were cut in the passage walls. Passage a-bii (length c. 2.5 m) was blocked by soil heaped up at its eastern end. Passage a-biii continued to a spacious, irregularly shaped cavity (B; c. 3 × 7 m). Cavity B was filled with chunks of mud that slid in from the surface. Antiquities robbers had dug a large area in the southeastern part of Cavity B, until they located an opening leading southward from the cavity to a long passage (b-c; length c. 5 m, width c. 0.9 m, height c. 0.7 m). A rectangular stone (0.25 × 0.50 × 0.50 m) found inside the passage, near the opening, was probably used to block it. Passage b-c led to an elongated cavity (C; c. 3 × 5 m); a hewn opening in its eastern—now blocked by a pile of earth—may have led to a pit or a shaft leading up to the surface.
In one side of Cavity C was a heap of potsherds that had accumulated during the antiquities robbery. The western part of Cavity C widened into another cavity (D; c. 2.5 × 3.0 m). An opening hewn in the upper part of the southern wall of Cavity D probably led to the surface, from where a pile of soil had spilled down into the cavity.
The heap of potsherds in Cavity C included two bag-shaped jars similar to those common in Galilean assemblages from the first–late third centuries CE, with an out-turned rim and a step below the rim on the inner side and a ridge at the base of the neck (Fig. 6:1, 2); a body fragment incised with wedge-shaped geometric motifs (Fig. 6:3), dating from the ninth century CE; three bowl fragments decorated with yellowish-green glaze (Fig. 6:4–6), dating from the Ayyubid–Mamluk periods; a fragment of a coarse bowl covered with white slip on the outside and decorated with a geometric pattern in red (Fig. 6:7), a common pattern in Mamluk assemblages; and a hand-made globular cooking pot with an everted rim that retained traces of red slip (Fig. 6:8), common in thirteenth–fifteenth-century assemblages CE.
Several cavities documented in the underground hiding complex were joined together by narrow passages that could only be accessed by crawling. Changes in elevation and direction were evident in some passages, and niches for oil lamps were cut along their walls. The passages clearly contained features designed to block access when necessary, or to isolate various parts. The two fragments of first–third-century CE jars discovered in the complex probably attest to when it was hewn or to its first use. Its architectural features are also characteristic of hiding complexes from the Roman period. Dozens of Early Roman hiding complexes with similar features have been discovered in the Lower Galilee (Shivtiel 2014:211–213). Based on the ceramic finds, the cavities in the complex were probably reused in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. These finds support the identification of the site as the village where the Crusader army camped on the eve of the Battle of Hattin.
The Milestone was found left lying on a bank of stony soil, c. 500 m southeast of Horbat Mishkena (map ref. 239157/742955; Figs. 7, 8). The stone’s upper part is broken, and it has a rectangular base (0.4 × 0.7 m, height 0.55 m) surmounted by a conical pillar (base diam. 0.6 m, height 0.55 m); no inscription is visible. It is impossible to tell whether the milestone was found in situ, but in light of the discovery of a milestone station c. 800 m to its west (Shinhav 1985), less than a Roman mile away, it can be assumed that the stone belongs to the milestone station. This station was discovered to the south of Horbat Mishkena and is probably associated with the ‘Akko (Ptolemais)–Zippori–Tiberias road of the Roman Period that passed to the south of the site. It thus seems that the stone was moved here during earthworks to the west of the site.