Stratum II. Remains of an elliptical cooking installation (L110; Figs. 2, 3), which was built on the bedrock of stones and lined with red clay-bricks, were exposed. A probe in the northern part of the installation (L113) revealed a layer of ash, animal bones (see Zuckerman-Cooper, below) and several pottery sherds that date to the Crusader period (second half of the twelfth century–first half of the thirteenth century CE), including a wide glazed bowl with broad ledge rim, with cream-colored glaze on the outside and green on the inside (Fig. 4:1), and a cooking pot with a globular body made of red-brown clay with brown glaze on its shoulder (Fig. 4:2). A stone pavement (F111) made of hewn stone slabs (thickness c. 0.2 m) was laid over the northern part of the installation, and in the northeastern corner of the excavation area, but it could not be ascertained if it cancelled the installation. Several pottery sherds were discovered in the accumulation above the floor, including the rim of a Mamluk cooking pot with incised dots decorating its shoulder (L107; Fig. 4:3). The floor abutted a wall (W101; width 1.4 m, max. height 1.7 m; Fig. 5), which was built of two rows of ashlars, with a fill of small fieldstones between them. Up to five courses of stone were exposed on the eastern face of the wall. On its western face and in the northern part of the wall, it was thickened with hewn fieldstones, preserved to a height of two courses. A pillar (W106; width 1.2 m; Fig. 6) adjoined W101 on the east. Its construction was similar to that of W101, and it may have served as a foundation for an arch that did not survive. In addition, the upper course of a wall (W108; width 0.7 m) that adjoined W101 from the west was exposed. A fragment of a Mamluk-period hand-made cooking pot with burnished brown slip on the rim (L112; Fig. 4:4), a spout of a Gaza Ware jug (L112; Fig. 4:5) and a fragment of a pipe (L102; Fig. 4:6) from the Ottoman period were recovered from the accumulation west of W101.
Stratum I. Two sections of a plaster floor were exposed next to each other: one (F105) above a fill, near the join of W101 and Pillar 106, and the other (F104) above W101. It seems that the floor canceled the walls, but because only very small sections of the two floors were exposed, it was impossible to determine with certainty their stratigraphic relationship.
Roni Zuckerman-Cooper
Ten animal bones were found in the installation and classified according to body size and age at death. Taphonomic assessment of the marks was undertaken. When it was not possible to determine the species, the bones were classified according to body-size, for example medium (e.g. sheep and goat). Sheep/goat (N = 3; NISP = 30%) and cattle (N = 2; NISP = 20%) were identified, and the other bones were classified as medium body size (N = 5; NISP = 50%), and also attributed to sheep/goats. Skeletal-parts distribution of the sheep/goat bones shows equal distribution between ribs and limb bones. Based on the stages of bone fusion that occurs at different stages of growth, there were two sheep/goat bones of young individuals (one in the first year of life and the other in the second year), and one bone of an adult individual (more than three years of age).
The cattle bones include part of a maxilla and a fragment of a radius-ulna of an adult individual (three–four years of age). Taphonomic assessment identified several processes. The cut marks showed two patterns: cut marks that were caused by butchering with large utensils (such as a butcher’s knife or an axe), and cut marks that resulted from separating the muscle tissue from the bones. The extent of the bones’ exposure to fire was determined according to the color changes that occur in direct contact with fire, as distinct from secondary exposure in hot sediment (near a source of fire or after the fire is extinguished). Only one bone was identified as having been directly exposed to fire (NISP=10%), resulting in its color turning black (charcoal). Partial change in color, which indicates secondary exposure to a source of heat, was documented for some of the bones. The context in which the bones were found indicates that they were discarded into the cooking installation as waste. Teeth marks of a predator on a sheep/goat rib, indicate that the bone was exposed for a period of time before it was finally buried. A pathology in the upper jaw of cattle was documented: the absence of the first molar (M1) during the life-time of the animal caused the gap between P4 and M2 to narrow, and changed their wear-pattern.
The sheep/goat and cattle bones that were found in the cooking installation represent animals that were eaten. The location of the cut marks indicates the stages of butchering and the level of specialization that was required for it. Taphonomic assessment of the burnt marks on the bones suggests that all but one were discarded as waste, and were not directly exposed to fire. The small size of the sample does not allow for data analysis and additional conclusions.
Remains of a cooking installation dating to the Crusader period were exposed. Floor 111, which may have canceled the installation, was built not before the end of the Crusader period, and possibly at the beginning of the Mamluk period. Because the site was damaged prior to the excavation and during it, the remains of the installation were not completed excavated, only a small part of the stone pavement was dismantled, and the section next to the meeting point between W101 and Pillar 106 was not excavated. It is possible that the stone floor and the installation were contemporary. It seems that the location of the cooking installation in the corner of the room was not coincidental. The stone floor was part of an architectural complex which included two massive walls that should be dated to the Crusader period at the earliest. Remains of this period in the area are known from nearby Horbat Qula, where the Crusaders constructed a fortress (Kochavi and Beit-Arieh 1994:112, Site 285). Sections of plaster floors that were exposed above the building remains apparently belonged to a later installation or building, which may have remained in use until the site was finally abandoned in 1948.