During June–July 1998, salvage excavations were conducted at Horbat Harmas (Permit No. A-2874; map ref. OIG
180520–624/644691–820; NIG 130520–624/144691–820). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Gindi Construction Company and Avshalom Chuman, was directed by Y. Elisha, with the assistance of L. Zak, E. Sa‘ar, M. Kodesh-Eshed, H. Eliaz and H. Mor (area supervision), T. Sagiv and S. Mandrea (photography), D. Porotski, A. Hajian and V. Essman (surveying), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), Y. Nagar (anthropology), G. Bijovsky (numismatics), R. Vinitsky (metallurgical laboratory), M. Ben-Gal (pottery restoration) and M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (drawing).
The site, which had previously been surveyed by E. Ayalon, is located in Rehovot between the Tenuva factory and Horbat Duran, in an area that was planted with an orchard. Khirbat el-Bad (currently located within the Weizmann Institute of Science) is to the east of the site. The area was partly damaged by earthmoving equipment that created two levels, one meter apart in elevation. Three areas were opened.
Area A (Fig. 1)
Sections of buildings without distinct floors and walls, potter’s kilns and several installations were exposed. Some of the installations postdated the walls; however, the relationship between them was not always clear.
Potter’s Kilns. Five potter’s kilns, two of them circular (L102, L109; diam. 2.7 m and 3.5 m), were excavated. A column (diam. 1 m), supporting the firing chamber where the vessels were placed, was found in the middle of Kiln 102; on its walls were traces of soot that resulted from firing. Two mud-brick walls supported the firing chamber in another kiln (L199). Another poorly preserved kiln (L190) was probably also circular; it had apparently a central arch that supported the firing chamber. The oval fourth kiln (L176; 2 × 3 m] had a wall of eight mud bricks (height 0.48 m) in its center and contained vessels dating to the Persian period. The fifth kiln (L146) was oval and had an interior mud-brick wall in its southwestern side. The kilns are dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Rectangular Installations. All the installations (Loci 165, 403, 170; 1.5–1.8 × 2.0 m; depth 0.45–1.30 m; wall thickness 0.25–0.30 m), whose function is unclear, were built of fieldstones. Plaster remains were discerned inside Installation 170. Early Islamic pottery and animal bones were found in the installations and a bone spindle weight came from Installation 403.
Refuse Pit (L161; diam. 1.1 m). It contained pottery from the Persian and Hellenistic periods.
Oval Installation (L146; 1.6 × 2.6 m). Built of mud bricks, it contained another installation also built of mud bricks (1.1 × 2.1 m). The installation was filled with ash and pottery dating to the Persian, Roman and Byzantine periods.
Silo (L186; diam. 2.6 m, height 1.23 m). It was constructed from twelve courses of small fieldstones. A repair of four mud-brick courses, replacing the fieldstones, was discerned in the silo’s northwestern corner. The entrance was built of ashlar stones (0.65 m wide) and set on the east side. The silo contained fragments of pottery vessels from the Hellenistic until the Early Islamic period, which were probably discarded inside after it became a refuse pit.
Walls. Sections of walls that do not form distinct rooms were found. The remains of mosaic floors (L412), dating to the Byzantine period, were ascribed to some of the walls (W408).
Area B (Fig. 2)
Public Building. The walls of the building (9.7 × 10. 3 m) were preserved a single course high and built of stones with an exterior dressed face and a fill of small fieldstones. The entrance was set in the middle of the eastern wall. A bench (width 0.55–0.60 m) extended along the eastern, southern and western walls (width 1.25 m); the northern wall was wider (1.55 m), without a bench. The building had a mosaic floor that abutted the walls. The main pattern (width c. 1 m) of the mosaic was a frame that consisted of red and blue rhombuses. Remains of a cross were noted in the center of the mosaic. Judging by the finds, including the potsherds below the mosaic’s bedding, the building can be dated to the Byzantine period.
Tombs. Three tombs were discovered c. 15 m north of the building. Two were single tombs built of ashlar stones and covered with stone slabs (Loci 229, 230). The deceased were placed in a supine position, their heads to the south. Small iron nails that probably belonged to shoes or sandals were found next to the lower limb bones in Tomb 229. The third tomb (L226; 2.24 × 3.10 m; height 1.3 m) was built of ashlar stones and found filled with soil, its ceiling missing. The remains of seven skulls were discerned along the southern wall of the structure. A spatula, small bronze ring, glass bracelet and gilded glass beads from the Late Roman period were recovered from this tomb.
Kilns. Three circular pottery kilns (Loci 216, 250, 251; diam. 3.1–3.8 m) were found. All three had a central arch that supported the floor of the firing chamber. They can probably be ascribed to the Roman period.
Surfaces for drying vessels. Two surfaces, where vessels were placed to dry prior to firing, were exposed. Pottery vessels from the Byzantine period were found.
A glass furnace, a potter’s kiln and remains of buildings were discovered.
Glass Furnace. Remains of a glass furnace (L346), which contained raw glass, were found. Next to it was a large amount of waste, including deformed glass vessels, glass drops and glass leftovers from the blow pipes.
Potter’s Kiln. The northern half of a potter’s kiln (L315; diam. 3.8 m, depth 0.7 m), which contained complete jars dating to the Byzantine period, was excavated. Its opening was apparently on the west side.
Walls. Four walls, cut by a tabun and a potter’s kiln, were exposed; they probably also dated to the Byzantine period.
It seems that this part of the site, which was settled from the Persian until the Early Islamic periods, was a developed industrial zone where pottery and glass workshops operated.