Remains of six buildings, an alley, two cisterns, loess quarries and refuse pits were exposed in all three of the strata. All the structures were built along a general northwest–southeast axis. Most of the construction was of unfired mud bricks. Robber trenches filled with body fragments of jars were found at the base of most of the walls; this method of construction ensured that water would drain rapidly and that damp walls would dry out. All of the buildings’ walls were treated with either mud plaster (max. thickness 0.1 m) or white plaster. No openings were uncovered in the buildings. The remains at the site were poorly preserved, owing to the construction method and intensive agricultural activity in the area.
Stratum 3 (Fig. 2)
Remains of two buildings (2 and 4), loess quarries that were converted into refuse pits, and two cisterns that apparently continued to be used until the end of settlement at the site were attributed to the earliest stratum.
Building 2. Almost all of a large building (20 × 30 m) was exposed. Fifteen spaces of various sizes, some of them courtyards and others rooms, were uncovered. Three residential units were found in the north, east and west of the building, each of them including several small rooms and a courtyard. The residential units adjoined a large central courtyard located to their south. West of the building was a section of a channel (length c. 4.5 m, width c. 0.1 m) built of small chalk stones that led into the western residential unit in the building (Fig. 3).
Building 4. The northern part of a building (10 × 10 m) that included four habitation rooms was exposed. The building apparently continued to the south and west. Some of its walls were treated on the inside with white plaster.
Loess Quarries. Loess quarries (min. 30 × 40 m, quarried depth c. 2 m) were discovered in the area between the two buildings. The level of the quarry in the northwest of the area was higher than the others. Traces of quarrying and mining pits were revealed in the southeastern part of this area. Apparently, the quarrying here was associated with the production of mud bricks and perhaps, pottery vessels. A pottery production center was documented in the Nahal Bohu channel, c. 70 m southeast of the quarry. The wind regime at the site, blowing from the northwest to the southeast, made it possible to locate the industrial area relatively close to the residential area.
After the quarries ceased operation, they were converted for use as refuse pits. Household waste was discovered in the quarry in the center of the area, whereas in the higher, northwestern quarry, pottery workshop debris was found. The excavation of the refuse pit in the central quarry revealed a row of Gaza jars that delineated enclosures for discarding debris (Fig. 4); it is possible that these enclosures were already used during the time of the use of the quarries and that they contained pools in which clay was levigated. This division into enclosures shows orderly and prolonged use, probably by several families, even after the quarries ceased to operate.
Cisterns. Two cisterns (diam. c. 5 m) built of small fieldstones bonded with gray hydraulic plaster, situated c. 15 m apart, were located in the southern part of the excavation area. Both cisterns were filled with soil. Their upper parts, including the feeder channels, if there were any, were not preserved.
On the earthen floors of Buildings 2 and 4 were fragments of pottery vessels, glassware and coins dating to the fifth–sixth centuries CE, which aided in dating the stratum.
Stratum 2 (Fig. 5)
During this phase, Buildings 2 and 4 of the early phase were enlarged and extensive changes were implemented. Four additional structures (1, 3, 5 and 6) were built, some of them adjacent to or opposite the refuse pits, which were probably no longer used at this time.
Building 1. Only the southern part of the structure (10 × 30 m) was excavated. It comprised ten spaces of various sizes, including rooms and courtyards. Seven of the ten spaces were built next to an outer wall that delineated the building from the south. It seems that the building continued further north, and possibly, to the west.
Building 2. Numerous internal architectural changes were implemented, and two new rooms were built in its northeastern part. Due to the construction of the two new rooms, a new outer wall was erected on the northeastern side of the structure that continued the outer line of the wall on the northwestern side of the building. Several new walls were erected in the center of the building, reducing the size of the central courtyard and the spaces in the building were re-divided. Some of the walls of the building from the previous stratum ceased use and were demolished, others continued to exist and yet others were rebuilt along the lines of the earlier walls. The walls that were rebuilt included foundations constructed of small fieldstones and pottery kiln slag that were deposited on the remains of the mud-brick walls of Stratum 3.
Alley. An alley (width 2 m) oriented northeast–southwest, paved with layers of crushed pottery workshop debris, was exposed between Building 1 and Building 2 (Fig. 6). At the western end of the alley, a section of a drainage channel (length c. 3 m) built of small kurkar stones bonded with gray hydraulic plaster (Fig. 7) was exposed.
Building 3. Nearly all of a large structure was exposed, built on pottery workshop debris that spilled into the northwestern quarry of Stratum 3; the debris was leveled and tamped and Building 3 was erected above it. The building comprised ten spaces including three small adjacent rooms and three courtyards; the function of the other spaces is unclear.
Building 4. As in Building 2, architectural changes were made to Building 4. The floors of the structure in all four rooms of the previous stratum were raised, and another room, long and narrow, was constructed in the northern part of the structure. This room, like Building 3, was constructed on pottery workshop debris.
Building 5. Part of a building (8 × 10 m) consisting of four spaces was exposed; it apparently extended to the south. The building was constructed on refuse that was discarded in the southeastern quarry.
Building 6 (30 × 40 m). Part of the building was exposed; it was similar in plan to Building 2. Eight spaces were revealed, some of them rooms and others, courtyards. On the northeastern side of the building was a large courtyard paved with a layer of crushed pottery workshop debris similar to the alley. On the floors of the building were fragments of pottery vessels, glassware and coins dating from the late sixth to the early seventh centuries CE.
Meager architectural remains were attributed to the latest stratum, including sections of buildings, tabuns and especially, refuse pits, mainly exposed in the central and northern part of the excavation area. Remains of a building that included two small spaces were exposed at the northern end of the excavation. Sections of habitation levels, floors made of tamped earth and a tabun were found above Building 4. Three refuse pits (diam. 1–2 m, depth c. 1 m) were revealed around Buildings 1 and 2, which had penetrated the remains of Strata 2 and 3 (Fig. 8). The pits yielded a large amount of ash, pottery sherds and animal bones. Fragments of pottery vessels, glassware and several coins dating to the Early Islamic period (eighth century CE) were discovered in this stratum.
Extensive remains of a rural settlement dating from the Byzantine period to the beginning of the Early Islamic period (Strata 2 and 3) were discovered. The site was apparently a small rural village that initially included several families that subsisted mainly on agriculture and produced pottery vessels (Stratum 3). During the sixth century CE, the pottery industry became a more important factor in the settlement’s economy, apparently bringing prosperity that in turn resulted in population growth and the settlement’s expansion (Stratum 2). The settlement was abandoned in the mid-seventh century CE, with the introduction of Islam into the region. After a brief time, at the end of the Umayyad period (eighth century CE), the settlement probably resumed for a short time (Stratum 1), on a more limited scale.