Gedera is mentioned in the Hebrew sources as located in the territory of the Tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:33; I Chron. 4:24; Bavli
, Bava Batra 91b). The Arab village of Qat
ra retained the ancient name. The village is mentioned by Guérin (1869
surveyed the region in the late nineteenth century CE. He identified a small tell with a well surrounded by ancient marble columns. Architectural remains, tombs, installations and quarries that date from the
Chalcolithic period until the Ottoman period were discovered in previous surveys and excavations performed in the area
:6; Kaplan 1953
; Tzaferis 1968
; Levy 1988–1989
; Gutfeld 1999
; Barda and Zbenovich 2005
; Fischer, Taxel and Amit 2008).
Rock cuttings. Four circular rock cuttings (L116, L118; diam. 1.20–2.35 m, depth 0.3–1.0 m; Fig. 3) were revealed in the north part of the excavation area: two, adjacent on the eastern side of the area, and two, adjacent on the west. The rock cuttings extended northward, beyond the excavation limits. Two hewn channels and a round stone that was not completely quarried were discovered in Rock Cuttings 116 (Figs. 4, 5); small kurkar fieldstones were uncovered slightly north of the channels. Fragments of pottery vessels found between the fieldstones included kraters (Fig 6:1) and holemouths (Fig. 6:2, 4) from the Iron Age (ninth–seventh centuries BCE); kraters from the Persian period (Fig. 6:5, 6; seventh–fifth centuries BCE); a bag-shaped jar from the Byzantine period (Fig. 6:7; fifth–sixth centuries CE); a Gaza jar from the sixth–seventh centuries CE (Fig. 6:8); and an Abbasid-period krater (Fig. 6:9). It is possible that the round installations were hewn first, and only in a later phase were the channels hewn, the kurkar stones laid down and an installation—possibly a screw press—set up.
When the rock cuttings in Rock Cuttings 118 were no longer in use, they got filled with alluvium that contained a holemouth sherd from the Iron Age (Fig. 6:3), pieces of a tabun
and fragments of glass that date from the Ottoman period to the present. The accumulated alluvium in the rock cuttings was overlain with construction debris from the Ottoman period, including metal, glass bottles, non-diagnostic pottery sherds and a fragment of a brick bearing a manufacturer’s stamp (Fig. 8). Two partial lines of the stamped inscription survived: the letter B in the upper line and the letters S. HENR in the bottom line. The inscription matches those appearing on roof tiles manufactured at the Roux Brothers factory in the St. Henri quarter of Marseille, France. Roof tiles and bricks imported from Marseille were in use throughout the Levant, including in Israel, during the nineteenth century and the first half the twentieth century (Y. Arbel, pers. comm.); most of the bricks imported to Israel during this period of time were manufactured at the Roux Brothers factory (Gordon 2013
: Fig. 3). It thus seems that the brick bore a common stamp of this factury: B[REVETES] (“patented”) in the upper line, and the factory’s location—ST HENR[Y-MARSEILLE]—in the lower line. Similar bricks were discerned above the rock cuttings in the northern balk of the excavation. These were probably part of a brick wall, from which the stamped brick tumbled down.
The circular rock cuttings may have been part of a quarry where roll-stones or round crushing stones were produced. It is also possible that the rock cuttings were part of a large installation, since all four were hewn along a single, east–west, axis; the nature of the installation remains unclear. The pottery sherds found in the rock cuttings were swept there, and therefore do not cannot date them.
Walls. A wall (W106; exposed length 5.9 m, width 0.8 m, preserved height 0.15 m; Fig. 9) built of white rubble mixed with shells was exposed in the eastern part of the excavation area; the southern part of the wall was broken. Small stones that probably fell from the wall and floor-tile fragments were discovered beside the northern part of the wall. The wall was founded on sterile soil as evidenced in a trial trench (L107) excavated west of W106. In the trench and above the wall were fragments of Ottoman-period storage jars (fig. 10:4), fragments of Marseille roof tiles and pieces of glass that date the wall from the Ottoman period to the present. Another wall (W109; exposed length 21.7 m, width 0.3 m, preserved height 0.1 m; Fig. 11), built of one or two rows of fieldstones (0.15 × 0.20 m) bonded with white plaster and founded on hamra,was exposed in the southwestern part of the excavation area; it was preserved to a height of one course. Pottery sherds from the Byzantine period and finds from the Ottoman period, including fragments of a Gaza Ware krater (Fig. 10:1), other kraters (Fig. 10:2, 3) and a green-glazed jug (Fig. 10:5), as well as bracelets and a bead made of glass were discovered above the wall. A trial trench was excavated north of W109, revealing the base of the wall; no finds were discovered, and it was therefore impossible to date the wall. No walls or floors that abutted W109 were found; thus, it seems that the wall was used to demarcate a plot of land.