During December 2009–January 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted in the western part of Khirbat Burin (Permit No. A-5797; map ref. 198658–72/690904–22), in the wake of a pit dug for a cellular antenna. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the ‘Partner’ Company, was directed by U. ‘Ad (field photography), with the assistance of T. de Vries (area supervision), S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kunin (surveying), the Sky View Company (aerial photography), P. Gendelman and E.J. Stern (pottery reading) and Z. Kanias.
Six squares were opened (c. 150 sq m) and architectural remains and installations dating from the Persian to the Mamluk periods were exposed. The excavation area was divided into a lower area (the pit), the upper part of which was destroyed during the installation of the antenna (Fig. 2; marked by a thin black line), and an upper area that was opened to its south and east for the purpose of determining the extent of the damage. Eight occupation strata were exposed.
Stratum VIII. The Persian period (fifth–fourth centuries BCE). At the bottom of the lower area were walls and a floor (Fig. 2; marked in purple) founded on fill (thickness in excess of 1.5 m), whose purpose was to raise the level of the area prior to the construction of the building. Numerous fragments of pottery vessels, basalt grinding bowls and 73 loom weights inside a hearth (Fig. 3) were discovered above the floor. Apparently, one of the building’s walls (exposed length in excess of 7 m) continued east and west beyond the limits of the excavation. The dimensions of the walls and the effort invested in leveling the area indicate that the building occupied a large area.
Stratum VII. This stratum was only discovered in the lower area where a small room of sorts was exposed. Two perpendicular walls (Fig. 2; marked in red) in the room’s southwestern corner were exposed above the wall and floor of Stratum VIII (Fig. 4). Two tabuns that probably belonged to this layer were unearthed at this elevation. It was not possible to date the remains because no level or floor that abutted the walls was found.
Stratum VI. The Early Roman period (first century CE). A concentration of potsherds from this period, possibly a refuse pit, was exposed in the section of the pit’s eastern side, south of the eastern end of the Persian period wall. Part of an installation comprising two half circles (Fig. 2; marked in blue) was discovered beneath it.
Stratum V. The Late Roman period (second–third centuries CE). A large tabun (diam. in excess of 1 m; Fig. 2; marked in pink), inside the refuse pit with potsherds of Stratum VI, was exposed in the eastern side of the pit, above the eastern end of the wall from the Persian period. Remains of a floor or habitation level abutted the northern side of the tabun.
Stratum IV. The Early Islamic period (seventh–ninth centuries CE). A large impressive building (exposed length east–west, in excess of 15 m; exposed wide north–south, in excess of 13 m; Fig. 2; marked in green) that continued beyond the limits of the excavation area was exposed. Some of the walls (thickness in excess of 1.2 m) had foundations (depth in excess of 3 m) built of two rows of partially dressed stones with a core of small and medium fieldstones and light colored mortar. Remains of the building’s walls were discovered on all four sides of the pit (lower area), as well as east, south and west of the pit. The most impressive part of the building was a plastered and vaulted water reservoir (Fig. 5). It was cleaned to a depth of nearly 3 m, but the excavation was suspended because of safety precautions. The bottom of a circular installation (diam. 1.8 m; Fig. 4) in the north of the building in the lower area was built of roughly hewn stones, incorporating fieldstone and ashlar collapse. Two tabuns was discovered to its west. The building’s wall foundations destroyed some of the walls and floors of the buildings and installations of Strata VIII–V.
Strata III–II. The Mamluk period (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE). The eastern part of the building from Stratum IV continued to be used and other narrower walls were built inside it (width 0.4–0.8 m; Fig. 2; marked in orange [Stratum III] and turquoise [Stratum II]) of ashlars, some of which were placed on top of walls and floors of the previous stratum. The cluster of tabuns and their resultant ash layers stood out prominently in Stratum II. These rooms were probably part of a kitchen.
Stratum I. The Late Mamluk period (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries CE). The remains of this stratum were seriously damaged due to their proximity to the surface. During this period, the water reservoir was blocked, the building from Stratum IV continued to be used and thin walls (Fig. 2; marked in yellow), stone floors and tabuns were built in the eastern and southern parts of the upper area.
Buildings dating to periods that were not known from previous excavations in the vicinity of the site were exposed. The eight occupation layers dating from the Persian to the Mamluk periods attest to the importance of the site’s location and it being a tell. An analysis of the finds shows that throughout all of the periods the settlement was rural and its economy was based mainly on agriculture.
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