Building (Area A)
Four trial squares (A–D; Figs. 2, 3) were opened at the bottom of the slope. The northern part of a building, probably a farmhouse dating to the Mamluk period (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE), was exposed. Sections of two wings of the building were uncovered. The wings differ from each other in the quality of construction. The southern wing (Squares B, C), which was probably used as a dwelling or for storage, was of good quality and its walls were built of two rows of stones. The walls of the northern wing (Squares A, D) were haphazardly constructed from a single row of stones and utilized the protruding bedrock. The northern side of the southern wing was delimited by a broad wall (W4; width 0.9 m), built of two rows of medium-sized stones whose outer surface was made smooth, and a core of small stones. The western part of the wall was not well-preserved and is indicated by the presence of collapse. Three walls (W3, W7, W8) extended south from W4. The stones of Walls 3 and 7 were bonded with those of W4. Wall 8 abutted W4 and therefore postdated it, at least from a technical standpoint. These three walls delimited two very narrow rooms (L113, L118), and W7 may have enclosed another room from the east (L117), which was poorly preserved. A pavement of flat stones incorporated with a thick layer of light gray plaster was installed in Rooms 113 and 118.
The northern wing included two walls (W5, W6) that adjoined the northern side of W4. The walls, built of the single row of fieldstones that were slightly smoothed, were preserved a single course high. It seems that these walls, which probably continued beyond the excavation area, delimited an elongated corridor or two rooms with a passage between them (L111, L112). Four rooms (L100, L101, L102/110, L103) extended along either side of the corridor/rooms. All the floors in the northern wing consisted of tamped earth; the earthen floor in Room 100 abutted the high bedrock.
Most of the finds on the floors of the building and below them were ascribed to the Mamluk period. Fragments of an olive green glazed bowl (Fig. 4:1) and a jug bearing a black on red geometric design (Fig. 4:8), were discovered on the floor of Room 113 in the southern wing. A larger quantity of finds was discovered in the northern wing. The pottery overlaying Floor 103 included a yellow on brown glazed bowl (Fig. 4:2), a green glazed bowl (Fig. 4:3), a frit bowl fragment (Fig. 4:4), a handmade cooking pot with slotted handles (Fig. 4:5), a handmade cooking pot with brown-burnished paint marks (Fig. 4:6) and a jar with a tall neck (Fig. 4:7). The potsherds discovered in a probe beneath Floor 103 (L115) included a brown on orange glazed bowl (Fig. 5:1), a yellow on brown glazed bowl (Fig. 5:2), a light green on brown glazed bowl (Fig. 5:3), a frit bowl fragment (Fig. 5:4), a handmade burnished cooking pot (Fig. 5:5) and a handmade jug with a black on red geometric design (Fig. 5:6). A sounding excavated down to bedrock (L116) yielded a yellow on brown glazed bowl (Fig. 6:4), a base of a frit bowl (Fig. 6:5), a jug fragment decorated with a black on white geometric design (Fig. 6:6), an intact juglet (Fig. 6:7) and an oil lamp (Fig. 6:8). All these vessels dated from the second half of the thirteenth century CE to the end of the fourteenth century CE. A coin from the Mamluk period (1388–1399 CE; IAA 138970) was discovered on the floor of Room 102.
Fragments of three jars (Fig. 6:1–3) that dated to the Early and Middle Roman periods were discovered in Sounding 116, c. 1.5 m below Floor 103. They probably originated in the contemporaneous site that existed south of this building. It seems that this was also the origin of a coin from the Late Roman period (367–375 CE; IAA 138971), discovered on the floor of Room 102.
Enclosure (Area V)
Three walls (W50–W52); which adjoined a high rock shelter and formed with it a rectangular enclosure that was oriented north–south, were discerned on the surface (an animal pen?; 4 × 11 m; Figs. 7, 8). The walls were built of a single row of medium-sized fieldstones, placed next to one another without mortar, which were preserved 0.3 m high. No potsherds were found in the enclosure’s excavation (L214).
Many quarries of different sizes were discerned on the surface; these can be divided into two main types: (1) ‘closed’ quarries—square quarrying areas whose borders are higher on all sides; (2) ‘open’ quarries—quarrying areas that exploited a bedrock terrace on the slope. Eight quarries and one rock-cutting were cleaned and documented.
Quarry E (8.5 × 15.0 m; Figs. 9, 10) was an open-type quarry, aligned east–west. Its western part (L104) was made smooth and therefore no signs remained of the detached stones. A kind of flat shelf that ranged in width from c. 0.5 m in the north and south to c. 1 m in the east was hewn around the eastern part of the quarry (L104a). The entire width of the quarry was partitioned by a wall (W1; length 3.2 m, max. width 0.8 m, height 0.4 m) that was built along its bottom. Two construction phases were discerned in the wall; a row of roughly hewn stones without mortar was set in place in the first phase and in the second phase, the southwestern part of the wall was made thicker with the addition of a row of dressed stones. A depression hewn in its northern part was probably used as a socket for a door hinge. Four roughly hewn stones (W2) were observed west of the quarry, outside the excavation area. The few potsherds discovered alongside W1 were dated to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries CE (not drawn). It seems that the wall remains in the quarry, as well as the smoothed bottom of the quarry indicate that a building was constructed there in the Mamluk period.
Quarry I (14 × 18 m, depth 1.0–1.5 m; Figs. 11, 12) was a closed-type quarry, oriented northwest-southeast. Signs of many detached stones were evident, and several stones that had not been severed from the bedrock were noted at the bottom of the quarry, along its eastern side. Three winepresses were hewn on the bedrock surface east of the quarry (below).
Quarry J (8.5 × 18.0 m, depth 0.88 m; Figs. 13, 14) was an open-type quarry, aligned east–west. Signs of seventeen stones (average dimensions 1 × 1 × 2 m) that had been severed from the bedrock were discerned, as well as three stones that were not completely detached. Remains of a tabun with fragments of pottery vessels around it, which dated to the Byzantine period (not drawn), were exposed on soil fill (L107; thickness 0.5 m), which had accumulated in the bottom of the quarry. These finds show that the quarry preceded the Byzantine period and it should probably be dated to the Roman period, when the burial caves were hewn in the cliff on the ridge.
Quarry U (5–10 × 14 m, depth c. 1.3 m; Fig. 15) was an open-type quarry, oriented north–south. Severance marks of c. 12 stones (average size 0.3 × 0.4 × 0.6 m) were evident.
Quarry W (c. 7 × 15 m, depth c. 1.5 m; Fig. 16) was an open-type quarry, oriented north–south. Severance marks of c. 17 stones (average size 0.3 × 0.4 × 0.6 m) were visible along the side of the quarry.
Quarry X (7 × 16 m, depth c. 1.5 m; Figs. 17, 18), north of and adjacent to Quarry U, was an open-type quarry, oriented east–west. Severance marks of c. 24 stones (average size 0.3 × 0.4 × 0.6 m) were noted on its eastern side.
Quarry Y (4 × 24 m, depth c. 2.5 m; Figs. 19, 20), next to the western side of the mountain, was an open-type quarry, oriented east–west. Most of the rock-cutting was done above the ground and formed a kind of elongated cliff. Severance marks of c. 26 stones (average size 0.2 × 0.3 × 0.4 m) were evident on its eastern side.
Quarry Z (8 × 9 m, max. depth c. 1.5 m; Figs. 21, 22) was a closed-type quarry, aligned north– south. Severance marks of c. 22 stones (average size 0.3 × 0.3 × 0.6 m) were noted.
Rock-cutting K (Figs. 23, 24) was part of a hewn olive press stone (diam. 2.2 m, thickness 0.22 m), which was not detached from the bedrock. A square recess (0.8 × 0.8 × 0.8 m) was cut in its center.
Winepresses (Area I)
Three small winepresses were hewn in the bedrock surface, in a cluster, east of Quarry I (Figs. 11, 25). The northern winepress (I1), which was the largest of the three, consisted of a treading floor (c. 3 × 3 m) and a collecting vat (0.5 × 1.2 m, depth 0.2 m) that had a small sump next to the northern part of its western side. Another winepress (I2) was hewn in a later phase inside the treading floor of Winepress I1. The later installation included a treading floor (0.5 × 1.6 m) and a collecting vat (0.3 × 0.3 m). The southern winepress (I3) included a treading floor (2.0 × 2.2 m) and a shallow rectangular collecting vat (1 × 2 m, depth 0.4 m) that had a small sump hewn in its southwestern corner.
The large number of quarries dispersed across the surface of the site and their size attest to the ample quantities of hewn limestone, which were probably used in the construction of the large sites located close by, such as Tel Dor and Ha-Bonim. It is difficult to determine the date of the quarries; however, Quarry J predated the Byzantine period and shows that at least some of the quarries were used in the Roman period. It seems that the quarries can be associated with the building remains and hewn cisterns (not excavated) scattered across two dunams west of the excavation area, where potsherds dating to the second–fourth centuries CE were found on the surface. The pottery from the Byzantine period and the tabun remains in Quarry J bear witness to activity that also took place in this period, and it is possible that other quarries were used then as well. The building complex, partially exposed in Area A, and the construction remains in Quarry E, indicate that extensive activity also transpired in the thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE. The ridge where the complex was situated is bounded on the southeast by the fertile farmland of Nahal Hagit, and on the west and southwest by the fertile land along the fringes of the Kabara swamp; therefore, it seems that the settlement should be associated with these agricultural areas.