In September 2008, a trial excavation was conducted in the courtyard of the Monastery of St. Anne at Zippori (Permit No. A-5527; map ref. 226326–42/739963–71; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Monastery, was directed by W. Atrash (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi and Y. Lavan (administration), A. Shapiro (GPS), R. Mishayev and T. Meltsen (surveying and drafting), H. Smithline and C. Amit (studio photography), H. Rosenstein (metallurgical laboratory), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), L. Porat (pottery restoration) and H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing).
One square (25 sq m; Fig. 2) was excavated along the western slope of the Upper City, just south of the Monastery of St. Anne, and three strata (III–I) were uncovered. In Stratum III several pottery sherds dating to the Iron Age were found. Stratum II was a destruction layer ascribed to the Early Roman period. In Stratum I the remains of a residential building from the Roman period were discovered, and two construction phases (1, 2) were identified. Phase 1 was dated to the second–third centuries CE and Phase 2 to the late third-early fourth centuries CE.
Stratum III. Several pottery sherds dating to the Iron Age IIB were found, including a carinated cooking pot with triangular rim (L31; Fig. 3).
Stratum II. A destruction level (L26), containing nari fieldstones and building stones that served as the foundations for the residential buildings. The pottery that was recovered dates to the Early Roman period and consists mainly of jars and cooking pots, some of them similar to the Kefar Hananya cooking wares (Adan-Bayewitz 1993). These included fragments of Kefar Hananya Type 3A open cooking pots with curved profile (Fig. 4:1, 2), Kefar Hananya Type 4A closed cooking pots (Fig. 4:3) and four cooking pots from the Early Roman period (50 BCE–50 CE; Fig. 4:4–7). Other artifacts that were recovered from the destruction level include six storage jars (Fig. 4:8–13) from the mid-first century BCE – mid-first century CE, a Herodian lamp from the same time period (Fig. 4:14) and a bone implement (Fig. 4:15).
Stratum I, Phase 1. Remains of three architectural spaces were exposed, probably two rooms and an open courtyard of a residential building (Fig. 5). Two walls (W14, W19), which formed a corner, survived from the western room. They were built of nari ashlars and were founded on the destruction level (Stratum II, L26). An opening (width 0.65 m) in the eastern wall of the room led to the open courtyard on the east (Fig. 6). The floor of the room (L18) was made of crushed chalk laid on top of the destruction layer (Fig. 7). Two walls (W12, W21; width 0.41 m, height 0.95 m) built of a row of nari ashlars survived of the northern room (length 5 m). The walls were preserved to a height of three courses, and retained remains of white lime plaster. The entrance to the room was in the eastern wall, and its threshold and southern doorjamb were exposed. The floor of the room (L27) was made of basalt fieldstones in which a tabun (L30; diam. 0.7 m; Fig. 8) was installed. The floor in the open courtyard was made of small fieldstones and tamped earth (L24), and a tabun (L22; diam. 0.7 m; Fig. 9) was installed in its eastern part. Roman-period pottery (50 BCE – third century CE) was found when the foundations of the wall, beneath the floors of the rooms and the courtyard, were examined: an ARS Form 27 bowl (Fig. 10:1) dating to 160–220 CE; two Kefar Hananya cooking pots, Type 3A (Fig. 10:2) and Type 1B (Fig. 10:2) both dating to the second–third centuries CE; and two jars (Fig. 10:4, 5) dating to the first–second centuries CE. The pottery places the foundation of the house in the late second century or the early third century CE.
Stratum I, Phase 2. The southern wall (W12) in the northern room tilted to the north under unknown circumstances. It was supported by a construction that adjoined its northern face and thickened it (width 0.4 m). This supporting wall was founded on the floor of the room (Fig. 11) and sealed the tabun (L30) of Phase 1. A plastered installation, whose function is not clear, was constructed in the eastern part of the room (Fig. 12). The courtyard was divided into two parts. The entrance to the eastern part was from the northern room, and into the western part through the western room. The courtyard was partitioned by a lateral wall (W13), which was founded on a fill that sealed the tabun (L22) of Phase 1. A new tabun (L20; diam. 0.6 m) was founded on the tamped earth floor of the courtyard in its western part (L15; Fig. 13). Roman-period pottery and an antoninianus coin of the emperor Probus (276–282 CE; IAA 140781) were found n the bedding of the floor . The pottery that was recovered from the floor of the northern room and the courtyard (L10, L17, L23) included a Kefar Hananya Type 1E Galilean bowl; five Sikhin type large cooking bowls (Fig. 14:2–6), dating to the second–fourth centuries CE; three bell-shaped lids (Fig. 14:7–9) dating to the third–fourth centuries CE; and a clay lamp (Fig. 14:10) from the fourth century CE. Most of the pottery that was recovered from the destruction level of the 363 CE earthquake (Balouka 2004), has parallels in the House of Dionysos in Zippori. Three fragments of bone pins (Fig. 15) were found in the accumulation overlying the floor of the northern room. Based on the ceramic finds and the coin, the second construction phase can be dated to the late third century – early fourth century CE.
Despite the limited area of the excavation, the remains that were uncovered contribute information related to the history of three periods of settlement at Zippori . The Iron Age IIB pottery indicates the existence of a settlement on the hill at the end of the First Temple period. The pottery from the destruction level testifies to destruction or fire in the Early Roman period. The dwelling that was constructed on the western slope of the hill in the late second century CE attests to the construction of new residential neighborhoods subsequent to the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–135 CE). It is important to note that in the wake of the uprising numerous refugees from Judea settled in the Galilee in general, and at Zippori in particular (Weiss and Netzer 1994:7). Judging by the pottery, the building remained in use during the fourth century CE, and was abandoned after it was destroyed in the earthquake of 363 CE.
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