In August 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted at the northern edge of Or ‘Akiva (Permit No. A-6572; map ref. 192466–679/714210–404; Fig. 1), after ancient remains were discovered in a trial excavation prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry Construction and Housing, was directed by A.S. Sa‘id, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), M. Kahan and R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (photography), P. Gendelman (ceramics) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
An ancient kurkar quarry was unearthed on the northeastern fringes of the Or ‘Akiva North antiquities site. The following antiquities were discovered in previous excavations at the site: a farmhouse from the Hellenistic period, remains of a road, a mausoleum, tombs and installations from the Roman period, building remains and installations from the Byzantine and Umayyad periods, and quarries (Sa‘id 2012
, and bibliography cited therein).
The quarry (B; 278 sq m, depth 4.1 m; Figs. 2–4) was covered with beach sand. It extended east, beyond the limits of the excavation. The quarry was divided into two adjacent quarrying courtyards (B1, B2) separated by a tall bedrock partition.
Courtyard B1 (c. 120 sq m, depth 3.6 m; Fig. 5). The courtyard’s southern bedrock wall and most of its northern wall were vertical, and the straight marks of the stone cutting that were visible indicate that most of the quarrying was done with a chisel. Six quarrying steps were revealed in the northeastern corner of the courtyard; they varied in width and sloped steeply toward the quarry’s floor. A stone (0.24 × 0.54 × 0.62 m; Fig. 6) that was still attached to the bedrock was discovered near the northern wall, at the bottom of the courtyard. On the southern side of the courtyard were three broad quarrying steps (L159), descending toward the east. Chisel marks indicating that medium-sized stones (0.25 × 0.45 × 0.68 m) were produced in the courtyard were discerned on these steps. Chisel marks of medium-sized stones (L163; 0.22 × 0.41 × 0.54 m, 0.23 × 0.31 × 0.80 m) were also observed on a higher level, in the southeastern corner of the courtyard. The quarry floor in the center of the courtyard was covered with a thick layer of stone-dressing debris (L161; max. thickness 0.8 m). It contained several dressed stones that were set aside in one spot (Fig. 7); these stones were apparently left there due to some sort of flaw. A scant amount of pottery sherds was also found on the floor of the courtyard. These included a fragment of a cooking pot (Fig. 8:1) dating to the second–third centuries CE and a fragment of a bag-shaped jar (Fig. 8:2) from the first–second centuries CE.
Courtyard B2 (c. 158 sq m; Fig. 9). The bedrock walls of the courtyard were vertical, except for the northern wall on the eastern side where there were four quarrying steps indicating the quarrying there was done from north to south. Quarrying marks of medium-sized stones (0.18 × 0.40 × 0.52 m, 0.30 × 0.37 × 0.70 m, 0.24 × 0.61 × 0.73 m) were found in the courtyard, as well as straight quarrying marks made with a chisel. Bedrock masses of similar size whose quarrying was incomplete were also discovered. The quarry floor was covered with a thick layer of firmly bonded quarrying debris (L157; thickness c. 0.6 m). The quarrying in the courtyard was probably halted when softer bedrock was reached (L158). Abraded, non-diagnostic fragments of pottery vessels were discovered on the courtyard’s floor.
The kurkar stone quarry discovered in the excavation was probably intended to supply stones for Caesarea’s buildings and installations during the Roman and Byzantine periods and for the road that was built in the vicinity during the Roman period. The straight marks discovered on the rock indicate that the stone cutting was done using a chisel rather than a pickaxe. The large amount of stone dressing debris discovered in both courtyards and the stones that were left on the quarry’s floor indicate that the final trimming of the stones was done on site.