During June 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted on the western slope of the village ‘Elabbon (Permit No. A-6528; map ref. 237683–709/749664–86), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by J. Gosker (field photography), with the assistance of D. Avshalom-Gorni, G. Cinamon and Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), E.J. Stern and N. Getzov (pottery consultation), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing) and laborers from Tiberias.
The foundations of two walls and a layer of small stones were exposed and bedrock was reached in all the excavation area (16 sq m; Figs. 1–3). The foundations of a wall with a curved course (W110; Fig. 4) were found in the northeastern corner of the excavation area. The foundations, built of small to medium-sized fieldstones on the bedrock, were preserved up to 0.5 m high. The building material and the curved course of the foundation suggest that they were part of an installation. The foundations of a second wall (W112; Fig. 5) were discovered at the center of the excavation square. These foundations were built of medium-sized roughly shaped stones, placed upon the bedrock. Between both walls, from the bedrock in the south to the end of W112 in the north, a layer of small stones was found (L108; Fig. 6). This might have been the bedding of a floor that did not survive. Several large roughly worked stones were found in the southeastern side of the excavation square, partly superposing the layer of small stones. This could be the collapse of a wall that once stood east of the excavation square.
The layer of small stones rested on the bedrock in the south and on earth fill in the north. Mamluk potsherds were found in the layer above the small stones (L103) and in the layer below it (L111). The same was the case with the layers on both sides of W110 (L105, L103) and W112 (L103, L109).
Potsherds dating from the Byzantine, Crusader and Mamluk period were recovered (Figs. 7, 8). Byzantine potsherds were scarce in all the excavation; they included Cypriot Red Slip (Fig. 8:1) and Phocaean Red Slip (Fig. 8:2) bowls. A single potsherd from the Crusader period is a Byzantine green- and brown-painted base (Fig. 8:3), which can be dated to the twelfth century CE. Most of pottery finds dated to the Mamluk period. The unglazed ware included large bowls (Fig. 8:4, 5), a krater (Fig. 8:6), a storage jar (Fig. 8:7), and jugs (Fig. 8:8, 9). Two different types of cooking pots occur, a globular cooking pot (Fig. 8:10) and a glazed cooking bowl (Fig. 8:11).
The glazed vessels included monochrome glazed bowls (Fig. 8:12–15), a yellow glazed slip-painted bowl (Fig. 8:16), and a glazed bowl with sgraffito decoration (Fig. 8:17). Additional finds included part of a Byzantine roof tile, a black tessera (7×7×7 mm) and a glass bracelet from the Mamluk period (Fig. 8:18).
The foundations of two walls and a possible bedding of a floor were exposed in the excavation. The ceramic finds indicate that the occupation of the wider area started in the Byzantine period, although the majority of the ceramic finds and the architectural remains date to the Mamluk period. The indications of Byzantine occupation fit well within the established view, yet the finds from the Mamluk period are the first evidence for the occupation of ‘Elabbon at this time period.