In July 2016, a salvage excavation was undertaken in Caesarea (Permit No. A-7757; map ref. 190406–845/711907–76) prior to replacement of three electric poles. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Israel Electric Corporation, was directed by M. Masarwa, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), R. Mishayev, R. Liran and M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), as well as K. Sa‘id (Central District Archaeologist) and P. Gendelman (consulting and guidance).
The excavation took place along the southern margins of the road leading to ancient Caesarea (Road 6511), in the agricultural areas of Kibbutz Sedot Yam. Three areas were opened (A–C; Fig. 1), revealing building complexes, a mosaic, stone floors and a ṭabun. The finds were dated to the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, the periods to which many of the remains uncovered in Caesarea were dated (Patrich 1998; Porat 1998; Raban 1998). Parts of the city’s eastern hippodrome were discovered southeast of the excavation (Porat 2018).
The area (Figs. 2, 3) was opened 20 m northwest of the assumed eastern boundary of Caesarea’s eastern hippodrome, which was in use during the Roman and Byzantine periods (Porat 2018). The excavation in the northern part of the area uncovered only 0.25 m below the surface the remains of a stone floor (L204) built of kurkar stones of various sizes bonded with white bonding material. The floor, which was mostly destroyed, was apparently associated with the remains of the nineteenth-century Bosnian village found c. 50 m east of the excavation area. The southern part of the excavation area yielded at a depth of c. 1.15 m below the surface a solid east–west wall (W206; exposed length 11 m, width 1.2 m, height 1.4 m) built of dressed kurkar stones set as headers and stretchers, which were preserved to a height of four courses. The wall was apparently part of the northern building complex associated with Caesarea’s eastern hippodrome. Pottery from accumulations near the wall (L202. L203) included fragments of bowls (Fig. 4:1), a mortarium (Fig. 4:3), a jar (Fig. 4:4) and a stone bowl (Fig. 4:7), all dated to the Roman period (first–fifth centuries CE).
The excavation in Area B (1 square) uncovered at a depth of 0.7 m below the surface building remains which were disturbed in the modern era (Figs. 5, 6). In the center of the square was a room (L254; c. 2.5 × 3.0 m), of which only the foundations of the southern and northern walls survived (W244, W245; length 3.0–3.5 m, width 0.4–0.6 m); these were built of dressed kurkar stones of various sizes bonded with white bonding material. A patch of a floor made of white mortar (L255), laid on a bedding of stones of various sizes, was uncovered in the western part of the room; the floor apparently extended eastward. The building remains in the eastern part of the square were in a very poor state of preservation, comprising only a wall segment (W243; length 1.4 m, width 0.4 m) built of kurkar stones; it is unclear whether this wall abutted the walls of the room. A probe (max. depth 0.55 m) opened immediately to the north of W245 did not reveal any ancient remains; a fragment of a cooking pot from the seventh–eighth centuries CE (Fig. 4:12) was found in the accumulation.
South of Room 254 was a narrow corridor (length 6 m, width 1 m) paved with small stones (L252). The paving’s bedding (L253), made of earth and pottery sherds, yielded a fragment of a bowl (Fig. 4:9) dated to the sixth–seventh centuries CE. The corridorwas delineated on the north by W244 and on the south by another wall (W251; length 4.5 m, width 0.4 m), built of dressed kurkar stones and preserved to a height of two courses. The eastern and western ends of the corridor were badly disturbed. A wall (W250; length 2.7 m, width 0.5 m) abutted W251 on the south, forming a corner, apparently of another room that extended southward beyond the excavation area.
Area C (1 square) yielded three construction phases (3–1; Figs. 7, 8). Phases 3 and 2, the earlier ones, date from the Roman to the Early Islamic periods. Phase 1, the latest, was badly disturbed by present-day agricultural activity and the electric pole that had been installed there, and thus its date could not be determined.
Phase 3, the earliest phase, comprised the remains of a wall (W278), built along an east–west axis of two rows of dressed kurkar stones preserved to a height of one course. The eastern part of the wall was destroyed by present-day infrastructure work. A north–south trial trench opened across the square where the wall was cut off (L277; width 0.8 m) revealed in the northern edge of the trench the remains of a floor (L281) made of small stones with white bonding material. The pottery from the accumulation above the floor (L280) included bowls (Fig. 4:2) and jars (Fig. 4:5, 6) dated to the Roman period (first–second centuries CE).
Phase 2. The remains in this phase were badly damaged by the construction in Phase 1. In the northwestern part of the square, at a depth 1.25 m, were remains of a polychrome mosaic floor (L275; Fig. 9) featuring geometric patterns; part of the floor was destroyed, and the other part was poorly preserved. The bedding of the mosaic floor (thickness 0.2 m; Fig. 9) comprised small stones and sherds bonded with white bonding material. The floor’s bedding was also uncovered in the northeastern corner of the square and in a small area in the southern part of the square. In the western part of the square remains were uncovered of a built ṭabun (L279), which was set on well-compacted soil. The ṭabun is later then the floor and cuts it, but the pottery finds from both the ṭabun and the mosaic floor dates from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. It includes bowl fragments (Fig. 4:8, 10) from the sixth–seventh centuries CE and a fragment of a casserole from the seventh–eighth centuries CE.
Phase 1. Directly above the remains of the mosaic floor, in the eastern part of the square, were remains of a floor (L273) comprising compacted small stones with white bonding material; its date is unknown.
Porath Y. 1998. The Caesarea Excavation Project — March 1992–June 1994: Expedition of the Antiquities Authority. ESI 17:39–49.
Porat Y. 2018. The Spina (Barrier) of the Eastern Circus at Caesarea Maritima. ‘Atiqot 92:1*–62* (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 217–230).
Patrich Y. 1998. The Caesarea Excavation Project — March 1992–June 1994: Combined Caesarea Excavations (A). ESI 17:50–57.
Raban A. 1998. The Caesarea Excavation Project — March 1992–June 1994: Combined Caesarea Excavations (B). ESI 17:58–77.