The current excavation, comprising three squares (1–3; Figs. 2–5), unearthed building remains belonging to two strata, from the Byzantine (Stratum II) and the Ottoman (Stratum I) periods.
Stratum II (Byzantine period). The only Byzantine-period feature in Sq 1 was a tabun (L126; diam. 0.75 m, preserved height 0.25 m; Figs. 2, 6) built on a thin layer of accumulated earth (L120) over bedrock; Accumulation 120 yielded potsherds from the Roman (see Fig. 12:6) and Byzantine (see Fig. 12:16) periods. The floor of the tabun was constructed of flat stones; its walls were made of clay, constructed by coiling and lined on the outside with sherds and small stones. No signs of burning were found inside the tabun, indicating that the fire was on the outside. Byzantine-period sherds were collected from the wall of the tabun and from under its floor.
Square 2 yielded the corner of a structure (W125, W129) and part of its floor (L122; Figs. 3, 7). The foundation of W129 was built of three courses of hewn limestones set on the bedrock (Fig. 8), and it was somewhat wider than the wall itself, which protrudes to the southeast; one course of the wall remained above of the foundation. Wall 125, which was not as well preserved, abutted W129 and was built over its foundation. Floor 122, A pavement of medium-sized stone slabs, abutted both walls. A large quantity of Byzantine pottery was found under Floor 122 (L124; see Fig. 12:19–23), and two coins from 383–395 CE were found associated with the floor: one in the fill under it (L124; IAA 152765) and the other between the stones of the floor (L122; IAA 152764). Fill 124 also yielded some Hellenistic-period pottery (see Fig. 12:1, 3).
Square 3 yielded a massive wall (W119; Fig. 9), built of hewn limestones set on a foundation of small stones that were placed on the bedrock; two courses of the wall were preserved. No floors or living surfaces associated with W119 were found on either side of the wall. On its north was an accumulation of earth (L127), which contained Roman-period pottery (see Fig. 12:8, 10, 13–15). The ancient remains on its south were disturbed by a modern pit (L118), which cut through the Stratum II accumulations and contained pottery from the Hellenistic (see Fig. 12:4, 5) and Roman (see Fig. 12:7, 11, 12) periods.
Stratum I (Ottoman period). Only fragmentary remains were preserved in Sq 1, as extensive modern building foundations cut through the stratum, and almost down to the bedrock. A concrete block was removed mechanically, and the resulting hole was deepened and widened. A collapse of large stones (L112; Figs. 2, 6) was visible in all four sections of the square. The pottery from the collapse dates from the Mamluk (see Fig. 13:5, 7, 9, 11) and the Ottoman (see Fig. 13:12–15) periods. A paved floor (L104; Fig. 10) found along the western edge of the square was built over the collapse; it was cut when a hole was dug for a modern foundation.
In Sq 2, three building phases were identified (Ic–Ia; Figs. 3, 11). The walls in all three phases were built of limestone blocks without binding material. The earliest phase (Ic) includes a wall (W107) constructed of hewn stones and an abutting paved floor (L110; not on plan), which were built over the Byzantine-period remains (W129; Fig. 8). The second phase (Ib) includes two walls (W106, W108) built of partially hewn stones, which joined to create a corner; W106 was built of two rows of stones set on Floor 110, whereas W108 was built of a single row of larger stones. The last phase (Ia) is represented by a wall (W105) built of hewn stones and set on top of W106.
The remains in Sq 3 comprised a wall (W109; Fig. 9) and a remnant of a paved floor (L128). Wall 109 was carelessly built of partially hewn stones set in part on a foundation of small stones and in part on top of W119 (Stratum II).
The ceramic finds from Stratum II and from top soil and disturbed loci (L118, above) included pottery from the Hellenistic (Fig. 12:1–5) and Roman (Fig. 12:6–17) periods. The ceramic finds from Stratum I (L112, above; L117—an accumulation covering Floor 124; L123—an accumulation above Floor 128; and L103—surface layer of Sq 3) and from the upper part of the modern pit in Sq 3 (L114) included one sherd from either the end of the Fatimid or the beginning of the Crusader period (Fig. 13:1) and an abundance of pottery from the Mamluk period (Fig. 13:2–11). In addition, a Mamluk dirham, possibly of al-Ashraf Qansūh al-Ghūri (1500–1506 CE, mint of Damascus; IAA 152765), was found in the surface layer of Sq 2 (L102). Nevertheless, no architecture could be dated to these periods.
The pottery from the Hellenistic period includes a Galilean Coarse Ware pithos (Fig. 12:1), two Phoenican jars (Fig. 12:2, 3), an Eastern Terra Sigillata bowl (Fig. 12:4) and a juglet (Fig. 12:5). The Roman-period pottery includes a Kefar Hananya 1E bowl (Fig. 12:6), a Kefar Hananya 3A cooking pot (Fig. 12:7), two Kefar Hananya 4A cooking pots (Fig. 12:8, 9), two Kefar Hananya 4B cooking pots (Fig. 12:10, 11), Phoenician jars (Fig. 12:12–14) and storage jars from inland Galilean types (Fig. 12:15–17). The pottery from the Byzantine period includes a krater (Fig. 12:18) found in topsoil, as well as a bowl of Phocaean Red Slip Type 7 (Fig. 12:19), three bowls of Phocaean Red Slip Type 3 (Fig. 12:20–22) and a casserole (Fig. 12:23). One cooking pot sherd is from either the end of the Fatimid or the beginning of the Crusader period (Fig. 13:1). The Mamluk-period pottery includes a krater (Fig. 13:2), a cooking pot (Fig. 13:3), a jar (Fig. 13:4), a light brown glazed cooking bowl (Fig. 13:5), a large green and yellow glazed bowl with sgraffito (Fig. 13:6), a glazed monochrome bowl with a ledge rim (Fig. 13:7), two monochrome glazed bowls with a carinated profile (Fig. 13:8, 9), a slip-painted green glazed bowl (Fig. 13:10) and an open pinched wheel-made lamp with remnants of a brown glaze (Fig. 13:11). The pottery from the Ottoman period includes a krater from Rasheya el-Fukhar (Fig. 13:12), a deep bowl (Fig. 13:13), a yellow glazed bowl (Fig.13:14), a green glazed bowl (Fig. 13:15) and a pipe (Fig. 13:16).
The excavation yielded 23 glass fragments, of which 16 were identified; the rest are small body shards. Eight of the identified fragments belong to late vessels, probably from the first half of the twentieth century, and eight belong to early vessels: one from the Early Roman period and seven from the Byzantine period.
The fragment ascribed to the Early Roman period belongs to a beaker (Fig. 14) made of Light Greenish glass covered with silver-black weathering that was removed. The beaker has a tightly folded and flattened base, with a central deeply pushed-in omphalos; the center of the base exhibits a jagged pontil scar. Similar beakers are known from assemblages that have been dated to the late first and early second centuries CE. A complete beaker with a similar base was found in a tomb near Tel Qedesh in Upper Galilee, where most of the finds were dated to the first and early-second centuries CE (Edelstein 2002
:99*–100*, Fig. 1:1). Two body shards found with the beaker in L127 were ascribed to the Roman period based on their fabric.
The Byzantine-period vessels (L117, L123, L124) include three wine glasses with a hollow ring base, a wine glass rim and a monochrome bracelet that has a rounded cross section. Such items are well known from assemblages from the Galilee and around the country.
Although the glass assemblage is small, it expands our understanding of the settlement at H
urfeish during the Early Roman and Byzantine periods. Most of the glass finds found in H
urfeish in the past were found in burial tombs dated to the Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE; Aviam and Gorin-Rosen 1997
; Gorin-Rosen 2002
). The finds from the current excavation indicate a presence at the site as early as the first century or the beginning of the second century CE and corroborates our knowledge of Byzantine-period activity in the ancient nucleus of the village (Aviam and Gorin-Rosen 1997
The Faunal Assemblage
The faunal assemblage contained 31 identifiable bones: five from Stratum II and 26 from Stratum I.
The Stratum II assemblage (see Appendix: Table 1) comprises one cattle bone and four sheep/goat (Ovis aries/Capra hircus) bones. The cattle (Bos taurus) bone and one of the sheep/goat bones (L127, B1074) bear cut marks made during dismemberment using a chopper. The Stratum I assemblage is presented in Table 2 (see Appendix) by species diversity: number of identifiable specimens (NISP) and minimum number of individuals (MNI). Most of the bones in this assemblage represent sheep or goats, and the second most dominant species is cattle. Of the five bird bones (19% total), four are of a small-medium chicken-sized bird, and one is of a medium (turkey-size) species. Two wild game species are found in the assemblage: gazelle (Gazella gazella) and wild boar (Sus scrofa), represented by one bone each.
Body-part diversity of the sheep/goat and cattle in the Stratum I assemblage is represented in Table 3 (see Appendix). The sheep/goat bones are represented by the head (horn and teeth), axis (vertebrae, scapula and pelvis) and hind lower limbs (tarsals and metatarsals). The cattle bones are mostly from the hind lower limbs (tarsals and metatarsals) and phalanx (first phalanx).
Cut marks were found on 26.9% (N = 7; see Appendix: Table 4) of the bones from the Stratum I assemblage. Most of the marks resulted from the dismembering the carcass.
As in many other assemblages from the Ottoman period (e.g., Raban-Gerstel, Bar-Oz and Tepper 2011
), the Stratum II assemblage shows a preference for the utilization of farm animals alongside some hunting practices. This assemblage also demonstrates the tendency during this period to leave many cut marks on the bones of dismembered carcasses, due to an evolving industry-like fashion of performing this task.
A special find in the assemblage is the presence of a wild boar phalanx (finger) bearing a cut mark. This suggests that during the Ottoman period someone hunted a wild boar and butchered it. However, it is possible that a boar was butchered and skinned elsewhere, and that only the skin, with the finger still attached, as occurs at times, was brought to the site. Either way, this indicates the presence of Christians in Hurfeish during the Ottoman period.
The excavation yielded Byzantine-period architectural remains of domestic nature superimposed by three phases of construction from the Ottoman period. Damati (2000
) has suggested, based on his own excavation and previous ones, that the Byzantine settlement at Hurfeish
was located west of his excavation (Fig 1: A-2725); this accords well with the results of the current excavation. The absence of Byzantine-period remains in Damati’s excavation can be explained by the modern destruction at the site. Despite the lack of stratified remains, the pottery from the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and especially Mamluk periods points to the occupation at the site during these periods. The glass shards from the Roman period and the Mamlūk coin corroborate these conclusions.
Amitai A. 2000. Hurfeish(B). HA–ESI 111:8*.
Aviam M. and Gorin-Rosen Y. 1997.Three Burial Caves from the Roman Period at Hurfeish. ‘Atiqot 33:25–37 (Hebrew; English summary, p. 9*).
Damati E. 2000. Hurfeish (A). HA–ESI 111:7*.
Edelstein G. 2002. Two Roman-Period Burial Caves near Tel Qedesh. ‘Atiqot 43:99*–105* (Hebrew; English summary, p. 259).
Eisenberg 1974. Hurfeish. HA 50:1 (Hebrew).
Gorin-Rosen Y. 2002. The Glass Vessels from Burial Cave D at Hurfeish. In Z. Gal ed. Eretz Zafon: Studies in Galilean Archaeology. Jerusalem. Pp. 140*–166*.
Habas L. 2009. A Pair of Sandals Depicted on Mosaic Floors in the Entrances of Private Houses and Churches in Israel and Transjordan in the Byzantine period. In C. Özkan Aygün ed. SOMA 2007: Proceedings of the XI Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology, Istanbul Technical University, 24-29 April 2007 (BAR Intl. S. 1900). Oxford. Pp.151–159.
Raban-Gerstel N., Bar-Oz G. and Tepper Y. 2011. The Bone and Horn Industry in Late Ottoman Nazareth: The Evidence from Shihab ad-Din. ‘Atiqot 67:61*–80*.