Stratum II—Byzantine Period (fourth–sixth centuries CE)
Area A (Fig. 4). A shallow refuse pit (L107, L108) was excavated to the depth of c. 0.7 m from the surface, where it reached the natural soil which was devoid of potsherds. The pit contained large quantities of ash and Byzantine-period pottery sherds and clay tiles. The size of the pit is unclear, as it extended beyond the boundaries of the excavation square.
The bedding of an elongated mosaic floor, laid in a general east–west orientation (L103; 0.3 m thick; Fig. 6), was uncovered c. 10 m south of the refuse pit; it was composed of small and medium-sized fieldstones with crushed chalk in its upper part. A few tesserae, broken clay tiles and potsherds from the Byzantine period were retrieved from the fill (L109) above the eastern and northern parts of the bedding. A trial trench (L110) opened along the bedding, to its south, was excavated down to the natural soil (L116).
Area B (Fig. 5). The remains of Stratum II were discovered just about 0.2 m below the surface; nevertheless, they were in a better preserved than those in Area A. At least two phases dating from the Byzantine period were identified. An east–west drainage pipe (W147; unearthed length 4 m; Fig. 7) and the bedding of a floor (L159) made of crushed chalk and abutting the pipe to the north were attributed to the earlier phase. A trial trench (L157) dug through the pipe revealed that its outer layer was composed of a thick, hard conglomerate (0.3 m thick) of fieldstones mixed with mortar and bits of shell that coated an inner pipe made of clay. The upper surface of the conglomerate coating was rounded and smoothed. Another trial trench (L154) dug beside the conglomerate coating, to its south, showed that it comprised a straight wall that rose c. 0.5 m above the natural soil (Fig. 8). The clay pipe consisted of a series of segments (diam. 0.12 m, length 0.56 m; Figs. 9, 14:2) that drained fluids from west to east. At the west end of the pipe, another clay pipe was placed vertically, immersed in the conglomerate; it apparently drained water from the roof or served as a conduit.
Remains of wall foundations (W114, W115, W153, W156) with no apparent shared stratigraphic context were unearthed in the south of the area. However, a comparison of the heights of the foundations with that of the drainage pipe indicates that they belong to same phase. Wall 114, aligned northwest–southeast (length c. 5 m, width 0.7 m in the well-preserved section; Fig. 10), was built of small and medium-sized limestone blocks. Its southern part was preserved only to the height of the foundation—a single course of large fieldstones dug into the natural soil. At its southern end, the wall formed corners with W153 in the east and with W156 in the west.
A narrow, north–south strip of a crushed chalk floor (F155; length c. 10 m, width c. 1.5 m; Fig. 11), which slanted southward, belonged to the later phase from the Byzantine period, as its remains lay at a higher level than Drainage Pipe 147. The floor was damaged, possibly because it was cut into by a robber trench of a wall that ran along the course of the pipe, although no clear remains of such a wall were uncovered. In the northern square (Sq 7) the floor was well-preserved and uniformly leveled, but it was truncated on its western and eastern sides. An accumulation of potsherds and clay tiles (L128, L135), all dating from the Byzantine period, was found above this part of the floor. Three coins were retrieved from the accumulation: two bronze coins from L135—one dated to 408–423 CE (IAA 152786) and the other to the fourth century CE (IAA 152785); and one from L128, dated to the fourth–fifth centuries CE (IAA 152784). A fourth coin was found sealed beneath Floor 155; it was could not be identified, but its diameter suggests a fourth-century CE date. Small chunks of lead were also found sealed beneath the floor. The fill in the center of the area (L105), where Floor 155 continued but was very poorly preserved, contained four identified coins: A silver coin from the Persian period (fifth–fourth centuries BCE; IAA 152783); a coin that may have been minted in Caesarea and dates from the first quarter of the third century CE (IAA 152782); a coin from 383–395 CE (IAA 152781); and a coin from 400–408 CE (IAA 152785).
Pottery. The pottery dates from the Byzantine period and includes imported bowls (Fig. 12:1–4), kraters (Fig. 12:5, 6), frying pans (Fig. 12:7–9), a lid belonging to a cooking pot or a frying pan (Fig. 12:10), an amphora (Fig. 13:1), bag-shaped jars (Fig. 13:2, 3), Gaza Ware jars (Fig. 13:4–7), including a base (Fig. 13:8), and a saqiye jar (Fig. 13:9), as well as fragments of a clay pipe (Fig. 14:1), a complete pipe segment (Fig. 14:2) and broken roof tiles (Fig. 14:3, 4).
Stone Vessels. Two bowl rims made of marble (Fig. 15), possibly belonging to the same bowl, were recovered. Both had drilled holes with several of the lead bands still in fastened in place.
Stratum I—Late Ottoman–British Mandate Period?
This stratum was identified only in the south of Area B (Sq 10; Fig. 5); two phases were identified. The early phase comprised the southwest corner of a building (W143, W152; Figs. 5 [in pink], 16), whose walls were built of flat kurkar stones with sand between them. The walls, preserved to a height of 3–4 courses, were built on a layer of soil (c. 0.1 m thick) that covered the corner of Walls 153 and 156 and W114 from Stratum II. Potsherds characteristic of the late Ottoman–British Mandate period found at the level of the wall tops (L141) included Black Gaza Ware, as well as a metal kettle with a spout and a glass cup. The later phase comprised a circular pit (L158; diam. c. 2 m, depth c. 0.5 m; Fig. 17) containing soil, crushed material and yellowish gravel, but no potsherds. The northeastern part of the pit was sealed with a thin burnt layer overlain with ash.
Squares 1 and 2 contain evidence of modern activity: huge piles of ancient building stones (Fig. 18) that were piled up with modern concrete and pieces of iron.
Pottery. The Ottoman pottery included a variety of Black Gaza Ware bowls (Fig. 19:1–10) and two water jars (Fig. 19:11 [jara], 12 [briq]). The bowl types were classified following Y. Israel’s typology (Israel 2006): A Type 3 leken (Fig. 19:1), a Type 1 masharat with a ledge rim (Fig. 19:2), a Type 5 zavdiya (Fig. 19:3), a Type 5 kashkul (Fig. 19:4), a mortar bowl (Fig. 19:5), a Type 7 zavdiya (Fig. 19:6), a Type 8 zavdiya (Fig. 19:7), a Type 6 zavdiya (Fig. 19:8) and two bowl bases (Fig. 19:9, 10); No. 10 may belong to a Type 8 zavdiya. The water jars have a triangular rim with a smooth, protruding band beneath it; No. 11 is made of a black fabric, and No. 12—of a light brown fabric.
Glass Finds
Tamar Winter
Approximately 180 poorly preserved glass fragments were recovered from the excavation, a quarter of which are diagnostic. Most of the fragments belong to vessels that were widespread in the fourth–sixth centuries CE (Stratum II). A body fragment decorated with a thick wavy trail (from L100; not illustrated) is characteristic of the seventh century CE, and several fragments (from L14, L102, L104, L130, L131, L146) date from the modern era (Stratum I).
Among the vessels characteristic of the fourth–sixth century CE are bowls, beakers, bottles, jugs, a wineglass and a mosaic tessera. A bowl with a rounded rim and a horizontal ridge below the rim (rim diam. 220 mm; Fig. 20:1) is characteristic of the fourth century CE. A bottle or jug with an infolded rim (rim diam. 40 mm; Fig. 20:2) was discovered in a fill above a habitation layer dated to the Byzantine period. Two bases, probably of bowls, were retrieved above floors dated to the Byzantine period: a base with a thick trail wound around its perimeter (base diam. 60 mm; Fig. 20:3) and a large ring base (base diam. 90 mm; Fig. 20:4).
Vessels resembling the four presented herein were discovered, for example, in a glass assemblage from Khirbat el-Ni‘ana, most of which is attributed to the fourth–early fifth centuries CE (Gorin-Rosen and Katsnelson 2007:78–79, 86–90, 103–106, Figs. 1:6, 7; 6:3–5; 7:3–5; 14:4) and in an assemblage from Khirbat el-Fatuna (Jackson-Tal 2007: Fig. 1:3, 6). The glass vessels from Khirbat et-Tineh were probably produced in a local workshop in the Shephelah region, such as those that apparently operated at Khirbat el-Ni‘ana and Khirbat el-Fatuna.
This limited excavated is the first to be conducted at Khirbat et-Tineh. The remains from the Ottoman period are very meager despite its geographic proximity to the hill where the Ottoman village existed in the late nineteenth century CE. Conversely, it was extremely surprising to find the remains of the Byzantine-period chalk floor (F155) just beneath the surface. The seven identified coins indicate that this is a single-stratum Byzantine site with two phases, which was inhabited for a short period between the last quarter of the fourth century and the first quarter of the fifth century CE.
The drainage pipe of the early Byzantine-period stratum and its eastward orientation indicate that excess water was drained from the roof of a structure to an area that lay to its east but has not yet been identified; it may have been damaged by later activity, as was the case in Sqs 1 and 2. A wall of a structure or of an installation probably existed above the pipe, but it did not survive; the north–south orientation of the chalk floor suggests that this structure or installation was elongated, but its function is not clear. The large quantity of fragments belonging to Gaza Ware jars, which were probably used to store wine, suggest that the building was used for their storage. The numerous clay tiles found in the excavation are worth noting, as such tiles were usually used for construction inside bathhouses and workshops, such as ceramic kilns, although no such complex has yet been found at the site. The Byzantine-period saqiye jar fragment suggests that there was probably a saqiye well in the vicinity. This may have been the well noted by Guérin at the site in the late Ottoman period, although it is yet to be discovered.
Several modern wells and reservoirs are known near Nahal Barkai, to the south of the excavation. The inhabitants of the village of et-Tineh were doubtless aware of the inherent potential of the fertile region with its plentiful water, and established the village here for that reason. The name of the village—et-Tineh (‘the fig tree’)—is not accidental, as figs require a rich supply of water to thrive, and usually grow near springs. The agricultural plots scattered today throughout the area are evidence of this abundance of water.