An excavation square opened on the western slope of a hill (Figs. 1, 2). It uncovered quarries (Stratum 3), the remains of a late Byzantine and early Early Islamic building (Stratum 2), and a layer with Mamluk pottery (Stratum 1). The site had been disturbed by recent construction work, leaving debris and many metal objects across the entire area.
Previous excavations at the site uncovered a Mamluk and Ottoman period building, alongside pottery clusters and a refuse pit dating from the third–sixth centuries CE (Badhi 1999; Badihi 1991).
Stratum 3. A stone quarry was hewn in the limestone rock (Fig. 3) and included partially cut stones still attached to the bedrock (L109). The quarry was filled with soil when laying the foundation for the Stratum 2 building and, therefore, could not be dated.
Stratum 2. The remains of a building were uncovered, consisting of four walls (W103, W104, W105, W110) built of dressed stones. Wall 103 included a 1.7 m long threshold stone that probably marked the building’s main entrance (width c. 1.5 m; Fig. 4). The threshold included three holes: two rectangular holes on the far ends for jamb bases and a third between them for a bolt. Hence, the entrance probably had a double door: a narrow door on the west and a wider one on the east. Walls 104 and 105 may have flanked a corridor (width 1.75 m) partly paved with rectangular stones (L111). Smaller threshold stones were discovered at the northern end of W104 (length 0.87 m) and the southern end of W105 (length 0.95 m); the latter led westward into a room paved with large stones (L108).
The building’s floors were set on the soil used to fill the quarry. Late Byzantine–Early Islamic pottery (sixth–eighth centuries CE) recovered from above and beneath the floors includes a casserol (Fig. 5:1), a casserol lid (Fig. 5:2), a cooking pot (Fig. 5:3), bag-shaped jars (Fig. 5:4, 5) and Bet She’an jars (Fig. 5:6, 7).
The soil accumulation above stone Floor 108 yielded a figurine made of soft limestone (Fig. 6). The figurine depicts a pack animal with a saddle or a gabled litter (apyrion). Although incomplete, it is evident the figurine was clumsily made: It has a large barrel-shaped body, two block-like pairs of legs, and a disproportionately small head. The bulky body and the saddle or litter suggest the figurine may be of an elephant. Nevertheless, the head suggests another animal or an abstract rendering of an unidentified animal, as was customary in Byzantine–Early Islamic figurines. Conversely, the saddle is symmetrical and carefully fashioned, probably intended to carry people, although it may have equally well been used for other loads. Convoys passing along the ancient road near Wadi ‘Ara may have inspired the figurine’s sculptor, who was probably a local artist. The figurine may have been a toy.
Stratum 1 included fragments of Mamluk bowls (Fig. 5:8, 9) from indeterminate contexts. They may have been brought to the site when the walls of the Stratum 2 building were being removed.