An excavation square was opened yielding three strata (I–III; Figs. 2, 3): the remains of three buildings constructed one on top of the other. The structures from Strata I and II date from the Fatimid and Abbasid periods (ninth–eleventh centuries CE), whereas that Stratum III went out of use in the Umayyad period (eighth century CE). The excavation did not reach virgin soil.
Stratum III. Sections of two wide walls (W115, W116) formed a corner. The walls were built of basalt ashlars (0.25 × 0.30 × 0.35–0.53 m), of which one, leveled course (c. 0.4 m) was preserved; the top of the course was covered with a layer of hard gray mortar. A pavement (L122) of small and medium-sized fieldstones (5 × 15 cm) that was covered with an accumulation of soil (L118) abutted the eastern face of W115 (length 1.5 m, width 0.9 m; Fig. 4). A hard, tamped floor (L121; thickness c. 0.1 m) made of pebbles and hard mortar abutted W116 (exposed length 2.2 m, width 0.9 m; Fig. 5) from the north. Two sections of a terra-cotta pipe sealed with tamped white calcareous mortar were exposed in situ beneath the floor (Fig. 6:1).
The ceramic finds that were gathered from Floors 121 and 122, Accumulation 118 above the stone pavement (L122) and from the soil accumulation east of W115 (L111) included an imported Cypriot bowl (Fig. 6:2; Hayes 1972, Cypriot Red Slip Ware Form 2) that dates from the late fifth century – early sixth century CE, the likes of which were previously found in Tiberias; a cup with a ribbed body (Fig. 6:3; Stacey 2004
:139–140, Fig. 5.54:1) that dates from the Umayyad – Early Abbasid period; as well as jars (Fig. 6:4, 5) and glassware (Fig. 9; Gorin-Rosen, below) from the Early Roman, Byzantine and the Early Umayyad periods.
It seems that the building was constructed in the Byzantine period, but it continued to exist until the Umayyad period; it may have been damaged in the Earthquake of 749 CE. Remains from this period were found in Stratum III in Hirschfeld’s excavation, which he dated to the end of the fifth century until the Earthquake of 749 CE (Hirschfeld 2004
:5). The building was not renovated after it went out of used. Its walls were dismantled to a height of one course and were used in building foundations for new walls. The spaces between the walls were filled with fieldstones (L112, L119, L124, L125; Figs. 4, 5), and the area was leveled and prepared for the construction of a new building.
Stratum II. The broad walls of Stratum III served as a foundation for the narrower walls of a new building. Two perpendicular walls (W106, W107; Figs. 3, 4) of the new structure were preserved: W106 (length 3.4 m, width 0.56 m) was built on top of W116, and W107 (length c. 3 m, width 0.56 m) was built on top of W115. The walls survived to a height of two courses that were constructed of roughly hewn basalt building stones (0.25 × 0.30 × 0.35–0.45 m); the second course of W107 was built of long stones (0.25 × 0.30 × 0.58 m). The top of the bottom course on both of the walls was leveled, and a layer of small stones and hard gray mortar was placed on it. Small stones were set between the stones of the second course on both walls. An opening to a room that was located north of W106 (L108, L110) was situated at the northern end of W107. In this room and in the room south of W106 (L109, L120) were thick, white plaster floors (thickness c. 5 cm; Fig. 7) set on top of a bedding of small stones that also covered the lower part of the walls. The plaster floors and their beddings were set on stone fills (L119, L124, L125) between the walls of Stratum III. This building was also abandoned, its walls were mostly dismantled and a new structure was erected on its remains.
Stratum I. The new building was constructed with the same orientation as that of the structure in Stratum II. Two of its walls (W101, W102) survived; they were built in part on the walls and partially on the floors in the rooms of the previous stratum. Wall 101 (length 3.65 m, width 0.6 m) was founded on the plaster floors of the rooms of the Stratum II building and on a section of W106 that it bisected. two–three courses of the wall survived. It is built of large stones with small stones (0.22 × 0.30 × 0. 50 m) in between, arranged in two rows, and a core of small fieldstones in between. The wall foundation was set on the remains of the buildings beneath it; therefore, where the remains were high, such as Floor 108, the foundation was two courses high, and where the remains were low, such as in Fill 119, the foundation was three courses high. Wall 102 (length 1.9 m, width 0.6 m) was perpendicular to W101 and adjoined it from the west; it was constructed directly on top of W106 of Stratum II (Figs. 4, 7). No floors were found that were associated with this construction.
Although the architectural distinction between Stratum II and Stratum I is clear, the ceramic finds from the two layers are quite uniform, and it is therefore very difficult to determine when the Stratum II building was constructed, abandoned or destroyed, and when the Stratum I building was erected in its place. The ceramics from Strata II and I are characteristic of the pottery assemblage known from previous excavations at Tiberias (Amir 2004
; Stacey 2004
), and date from the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (ninth–eleventh centuries CE). They are presented here as a single repertoire that also comprises vessels from the surface. The finds include locally produced splash-glazed bowls occurring in green, cream and brownish-purple shades and decorated with incising (Fig. 8:1–5); two imported glazed bowls, one from Iraq (Fig. 8:6; Stacey 2004
:113, Fig. 5.23) and the other from Egypt (8:7; Stacey 2004
:117, Fig. 5.25); and buff-ware jugs (Fig. 8:8–10). Other finds include locally produced unglazed vessels, such as a frying pan (Fig. 8:11) and a holemouth jar decorated with straight and wavy combing (Fig. 8:12). The jar belongs to a type that first appeared in the Umayyad period and continued to be used in the Abbasid period; it is probably a remnant from Stratum III. A fragment of a glass bowl (Fig. 9:4; Gorin-Rosen, below) and a small metal bowl (Fig. 8:13), probably used for grinding cosmetic ingredients, were also ascribed to the Abbasid period. Small metal bowls, both dated to the Early Islamic period, were found in Tiberias in the past (Amir 2004
Twelve identified fragments that date from the Early Roman, Byzantine–Umayyad and Abbasid periods were found in the excavation. Glass finds from these periods are known from excavations previously conducted within the city of Tiberias.
Two fragments represent the Early Roman period; these are the only items from this period discovered in the excavation. One vessel is a beaker with a cut rim that is polished and decorated with delicate horizontal stripes engraved below the rim and on the wall (Fig. 9:1). The beaker, made of colorless glass, is covered with iridescent silvery, creamy weathering. This type of beaker first appeared in the first century CE and continued with slight changes until the fourth century CE. Based on the quality of the material and its treatment, this vessel is ascribed to the earlier part of this time period. The second fragment, also dated to this period, is the base of a small mold-blown bottle that formed a pattern of ribs radiating upward from a circle around the center of the base (Fig. 9:2). The vessel is made greenish blue glass and is covered with iridescent creamy weathering and patches of brown weathering. Judging by the quality of the material and the delicate treatment of the vessel it should be dated to the Early Roman period.
The vessels from the Byzantine period and the Early Umayyad period included a rim of a beaker/bowl that was found in one basket together with part of a thickened stem of a large goblet or a bowl lamp (not drawn); a wine goblet base that has a cylindrical stem and a small solid base that was found together with a fragment of a small thickened button base of a small bottle that dates to the Umayyad period (not drawn); and a bowl lamp with a wick-tube in its center (Fig. 9:3). The lamp, made of light blue glass, is covered with iridescent, milky and creamy weathering. The base is concave and pushed-in and has a coarse pontil scar and glass remnants from the artisan’s blowpipe. The wick-tube is cylindrical and hollow, and becomes wider and slightly thicker at the connection to the base. Judging by the diameter of the base, the bottom part of the lamp was fairly narrow, but its upper part was presumably wider. A small fragment of the connection between the base of a vessel and its wall was also found. It forms a triangular cross-section (Fig. 9:4) that is quite characteristic of both shallow and deep cylindrical bowls from the Abbasid period. The vessel, made of greenish blue glass, is slightly covered with silvery iridescent weathering. The glass is of fairly good quality. A deep cylindrical bowl of this type was found in Bet Sheʽan together with a smaller vessel that has a similar cross-section (Katsnelson 2014
:39*–41*, Fig. 8:3, 6). In addition to the vessel fragments, a small chunk of raw glass was discovered; industrial glass waste was found in many of the salvage excavations in Tiberias (Goren-Rosen 2010; Gorin-Rosen 2013).
This small-scale excavation yielded remains of buildings that date from the end of the Byzantine period to the Fatimid period. The excavation concluded before layers that date from earlier than the Late Byzantine period could be exposed, and it is reasonable to assume that the buildings were constructed over remains from the Roman period. The buildings were erected one above the other with similar orientations, a phenomenon observed in other excavations at Tiberias (Hirschfeld 2004
:219). It seems that the three buildings, or at least those of Stratum I and II, were dwellings, and should be ascribed to the residential neighborhood that was exposed by Y. Hirschfeld that existed for a long period of time along the eastern and northern foot of Mount Berenice.