During March 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted at Horbat ‘Emed (Permit No. A-4755; map ref. NIG 2131/7714; OIG 1631/2714). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Qibbuz Hanita, was directed by H. Tahan (find drawing), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), L. Porat (pottery restoration), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Horbat ‘Emed is located in the northern part of the ‘Akko valley, south of the Nahal Keziv channel and in the orchards of Qibbuz Hanita. The remains of a large structure, possibly a public building that dated to the Byzantine period, were exposed. The site had been severely damaged during the course of agricultural work, c. 50 m northeast of the excavation. Stone objects, some of which came from an olive press, were removed from the site in the past and are displayed today at the museum of the ‘Shemen’ factory.
The building (7.5 × 11.0 m; Fig. 1), whose walls (W10–W12) were meticulously built of dolomite ashlars set as headers and stretchers without bonding material (width 0.63 m; Fig. 2), included a large central hall (3.8 × 10.0 m) and two rooms to its east. The walls extended beyond the limits of the excavation area. The wide entrance (2 m) to the main hall was set in the southern wall. It consisted of two ashlar doorjambs and two threshold stones (Fig. 3). Sockets for door hinges were hewn in the threshold stones and the base of a hinge was preserved in the western socket. Bolt-holes for locking the door were preserved in the threshold and doorjambs. The corner of another structure that extended beyond the boundaries of the excavation was exposed next to the southern wall. Three large stone slabs (0.5 × 0.8 m) were exposed north of and c. 0.15 m lower than the level of the threshold stones. North of and c. 0.2 m lower than the stone slabs was a step paved with fieldstones; this may have been a later repair. It seems that the floor in the rest of the hall was tamped earth. An installation enclosed within a curved wall (L108; Fig. 4) was exposed in the southwestern corner of the main hall. It contained numerous potsherds, including a fragment of a lamp, fragments of glass vessels and iron slag. Virgin soil was revealed to the north of the paving stones (L105), yet no earlier building remains were noted. Stone collapse, mostly composed of nari blocks, was exposed next to the eastern wall (W10) in the northern part of the hall. It is possible that the nari was used in constructing the upper part of the walls. Three entryways (width c. 1 m) were set in W10 (exposed length 14 m); the most northern one could be seen on surface along the continuation of the wall to the north. The doorjambs in the two southern entries had hewn bolt-holes (Fig. 5). On the surface to the north of the northern entryway was a small square niche, probably used for storage (Fig. 6). Two rooms, separated by a wall (W13) and partly excavated, were exposed east of the main hall. On the tamped-earth floors of the rooms were fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period that could partially be restored, a coin, fragments of glass vessels, pieces of plaster, some of which were decorated and a bronze rod. A few potsherds from the Roman period and a coin were discovered while excavating below the floor level in the northern room.
The artifacts on the floors of the building dated to the Byzantine period and included pottery vessels, mostly jars, cooking pots and kraters, as well as plaster remains of unclear origins, several white tesserae, coins, iron nails and fragments of glass vessels. The ceramic finds below the floor level in the northern room, which dated to the Roman period, raise the possibility that the building had already been built in the Roman period. A wall (length 3 m) was discerned some 8 m west of the building remains and other walls were noted in its vicinity; it seems that these were remains of a settlement that was located at the site.