During November–December 2009, a trial excavation was conducted in Ramat Yishay (Permit No. A-5753; map ref. 21621–5/73458–64), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the contractor R. Billiya, was directed by B. Hanna (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration) and M. Kunin, R. Mishayev and Y. Nemichnitzer(surveying and drafting).
The excavation (c. 100 sq m) was conducted next to the remains of the Ottoman khan, on the northwestern slope of a hill where the older part of Ramat Yishay is built (Fig. 1). Among the antiquities exposed were remains of a wall and a rock-hewn pit from the Abbasid period (Stratum IV; Fig. 2), a limekiln and refuse pits from the Mamluk period (Stratum II), a wall and pavement from the Ottoman period (Stratum I), as well as a hewn pit and quarry.
A survey and numerous excavations in the vicinity revealed extensive settlement remains that dated from the Roman until the Ottoman periods (Map of Nahalal , Site 48; HA-ESI 124).
Stratum IV (Fig. 3). Remains of a wall (W11) and a conical, rock-hewn pit (L109; upper diam. 0.7 m, lower diam. 1.4 m, depth 2.76 m) were discovered. Wall 11, built of limestone ashlars set on the bedrock, was preserved two courses high. This wall seems to have been part of a building that extended beyond the limits of the excavation area. The wall was covered with an accumulation of brown earth mixed with small stones and potsherds dating to the Roman and Abbasid periods. Dark brown soil fill mixed with numerous dressed limestone building blocks was discovered inside the pit. Directly above the bottom of the pit (L122) was an accumulation of light colored soil mixed with numerous fragments of pottery vessels from the Abbasid period, including two lamp fragments.
Stratum II (Fig. 4). A round, rock-hewn limekiln (L110; bottom diam. c. 4.3 m, depth 3.64 m) and two refuse pits (L118, L121, L124) were discovered. The lower portion of the kiln was coated with gray plaster on the inside (thickness c. 3 cm). A semicircular opening (width 0.6 m) that served as the kiln’s chimney was hewn in the upper part of the installation. A shallow rock-cut channel (width 0.1 m, depth 0.1 m; Fig. 5) was discovered next to the opening; it seems that the channel predated the kiln and its function is unclear. Two compartments were hewn on the southwestern and northwestern sides of the kiln. Due to safety precautions, they were not excavated; however, it seems that they were blocked with soil and modern refuse. One of the compartments might be the opening of the kiln. A layer of ash and lime (L133; thickness c. 0.7 m; Fig. 6) was discovered directly above the bottom of the kiln. Above this layer were many large, well-dressed limestone blocks that were apparently thrown into the kiln for burning. Soil fill and a large quantity of modern refuse (L110) were discovered in the upper part of the kiln and it seems that the installation was exposed until thirty or forty years ago. The eastern refuse pit (L118) was hewn in bedrock; its quarrying damaged the side of Pit 109 of Stratum IV. Potsherds dating to the Abbasid and Mamluk periods were discovered right above the bottom of the pit. Dark soil fill and a large amount of modern refuse were found inside the pit. Wall 11 of Stratum IV was damaged when the western refuse pit (L121, L124) was quarried. Potsherds from the Roman, Abbasid and Mamluk periods were discovered inside that pit.
Stratum I. A curved wall (W10) and stone floor (L111) were uncovered. The wall, founded on a layer of ash and built of dressed limestone, was preserved a single course high. Soil fill, a large quantity of ash and potsherds dating to the Ottoman period were discovered west of the wall. It seems that the wall was part of a cooking installation. The floor was built of medium-sized limestone fieldstones. Numerous fragments of pottery vessels, including tobacco pipes dating to the Ottoman period (L111) were discovered above the floor.
A rectangular, rock-hewn pit (L107; 0.55×0.90 m, depth 0.7 m; Fig. 7) and a building-stone quarry (L105) were discovered. An arched opening (0.5×0.6 m) hewn in the southern side of the pit led to a space, which owing to safety precautions was not excavated. The pit and the opening might have been part of a burial complex or some sort of installation. A straight rock-cutting (0.4×1.0 m, depth 2 cm) was discerned in the quarry. The pit and the quarry were discovered covered with soil that contained a large amount of modern refuse and potsherds from the Mamluk and Early Islamic periods. Neither the pit nor the quarry could be dated.