Four areas (C–F; Fig. 2) were opened in the current excavation. Settlement remains were uncovered, perhaps of a farmstead from the Roman period (first century–early second century CE), which are similar to the ancient remains revealed in the past, just north of the excavation area (Dagot 2011).
Area C (Fig. 3). Two squares (I, II) were excavated. A coin of a Roman procurator dating to the reign of Tiberius and minted in Jerusalem was discovered on the surface level (17/18–24/25 CE; IAA 143115). A floor (L142; Fig. 4) made of kurkar slabs (width 0.3 m, thickness 0.1 m) placed on alluvium was discovered in Sq I, at a depth of 0.74 m below the surface. The floor abutted the western face of a wall oriented north–south (W140), built of various-sized kurkar stones and preserved up to three courses high (0.55 m). Two dressed kurkar stones discovered northeast of W140 were standing 0.65 m apart on a floor of kurkar flagstones (L141; flagstone thickness 0.1 m). Both of these stones may have been doorjambs because the western one had a depression (diam. 0.18 m) hewn in it, which could have been meant for a door hinge. The eastern stone adjoined a row of small fieldstones (W144; height 0.3 m), possibly the remains of a robbed wall. A circular installation (L139; diam. 0.8 m)—a surface built of small and medium-sized fieldstones—was unearthed in the northwestern corner of the square. In the northeastern corner were two drums of a round kurkar column (B1080; diam. 0.4 m), one on top of the other, and to their east was the lower millstone of a basalt Pompeian mill (‘donkey mill’; B1079; upper diam. 0.17 m, lower diam. 0.5 m). Three unassociated Olynthus-type millstones (Fig. 5) were discovered within the area. A wall (W143; preserved height 0.5 m) constructed of medium-sized fieldstones was exposed in Sq II. To its north was discovered an autonomous coin from Ashqelon, dating to the first century BCE–first century CE (IAA 143117).
Area D (Fig. 6). Remains of two walls (W109, W114) built of medium-sized fieldstones were exposed. Walls 109 and 114 (preserved height 0.2 m) were oriented north–south and east–west, respectively. A coin of a procurator, dating to the reign of Augustus and minted in Jerusalem (10/11 CE; IAA 143116), was discovered in the soil accumulation (L106) to the south of the walls.
Area E (Fig. 6). Two perpendicular walls (W122, W123) built of dressed kurkar stones were revealed at a depth of 0.5 m below the surface. Wall 122 was preserved to a height of 0.25 m; W123 sustained damage when a modern water pipe was installed there.
Area F (Fig. 6). Seven drums, belonging to two columns that collapsed in an eastward direction, were discovered in the eastern part of the square. A square base (B1081/1), two round drums (B1081/2, 3; diam. 0.30–0.35 m) of the northern column and four drums (B1082/1–4; 0.4 × 0.5 m, height 0.25–0.33 m) of the southern column were exposed. The columns toppled onto a pile of collapsed stones (L104, L105) that included fragments of hydraulic plaster, potsherds and metallic items such as a key (Fig. 7) and nails. Other objects discovered in the area include a round column drum (B1086; height 0.15 m), remains of a pillar (B1083, B1084; height 0.2 m) and a fragment of a column (B1085; height 0.15 m), which was found in the area’s western balk. In the center of the area, remains of an installation for collecting liquids—a plaster floor (L145) and a north–south channel (L146; length 2.8 m, width 0.1 m, depth 0.15 m)—were exposed. A coin minted in Tiberias during the reign of Hadrian (119/120 CE; IAA 143118) was found among the collapsed stones above the channel. The remains of a second paving of kurkar slabs (L119), laid on a bedding of earth and tamped kurkar (L147), were exposed to the south of Installation Floor 145 and abutting the two columns exposed in the eastern part of the area. It is possible that the column drums and the installation were parts of a peristyle courtyard with a pool.
Pottery and Stone Artifacts
Late Iron Age and Persian Period. Several pottery sherds dating to these periods were discovered in soil accumulations ascribed to the Early Roman period. The finds include a krater from the Persian period (Fig. 8:1; sixth–early fourth centuries BCE), a storage jar (Fig. 8:2) from the eighth–early sixth centuries BCE (De Groot and Bernick-Greenberg 2012:89, Fig. 4.8:1) and basket-handled amphorae (Fig. 8:3), also dating to the Persian period. These finds may indicate that the site was inhabited at the end of the Iron Age or in the Early Persian period.
Early Roman Period. Most of the ceramic finds in the excavation date to the second half of the first–early second centuries CE.
Kraters and Bowls. A krater with a ledge rim (Fig. 8:4; Magness 1993:202), an imported Eastern Terra Sigillata bowl dating to 60–100 CE (Fig. 8:5; Hayes 1985:31, Tav. V:12) and locally produced bowls of the first century BCE, among them hemispheric bowls (Fig. 8:6,7; Bar-Nathan 2006:130–133, Pl. 25:21; Loffreda 1996:91–93, Fig. 31:45–58) and a ledge-rim bowl (Fig. 8:8), were discovered.
Casseroles and Lids. Two types of casseroles dating to the end of the first–second centuries CE were identified: a carinated vessel with a ridge on the inside of the rim (Fig. 8:9, 10; Bar-Nathan 2006:159, Pl. 31:76, Fig. 56) and an open krater with horizontal handles (Fig. 8:11–13; Silberstein 2000:437, Pl. VII:3, 4; Porat, Eshel and Frumkin 2009: Pl. 1:4). They were sealed by a dome-shaped lid (Fig. 8:14, 15).
Cooking Pots. Two types of cooking pots are present. One is a closed, spherical vessel with a carinated shoulder and a thickened rim (Fig. 8:16, 17) or with a prominent ridge (Fig. 8:18–20), which dates from the first–early second centuries CE (Bar-Nathan 2006:160–161, Pl. 29:41–43). The second type has a wide opening and an infolded rim (Fig. 8:21). It dates to the late first–second centuries CE (Riley 1975:43, 48, No. 113; Silberstein 2000:435, Pl. VI:14–15; Bar-Nathan 2006:168, Pl. 31:69).
Jars. Two types of bag-shaped jars were discovered, both dating to the end of the first–beginning of the second centuries CE (Peilstöker 2003: Fig. 78:8; Porat, Eshel and Frumkin 2009: Pl. 2:5): one with an out-folded rim (Fig. 8:22), the other with a prominent ridge on its rim (Fig. 8:23, 24). Also discovered were two types of Ashqelon jars: one with a high rim, dating to the first half of the first century CE (Fig. 8:25–27; Zemer 1977: Pl. 12:36); the other with a low rim, dating to the second–third centuries CE (Fig. 8:28–30; Majcherek 1995:166, Pls. 3:1; 4:1, 8).
Jugs. Among the jugs discovered are those with a ridge on their rim and a funnel, dating from the end of the first century BCE–early second century CE (Fig. 8:31, 32; Bar-Nathan 2006:1174–1175, Pl. 31:86–89, Fig. 58); with a broad bowl-like rim, dating to the late first century BCE–first century CE (Fig. 8:33, 34; Bar-Nathan 2006:106–108, Pl. 19:27–31; Loffreda 1996:65–66, Figs. 22:26; 25:1–15); and with a ledge rim (Fig. 8:35).
Lamps. All of the lamps discovered in the excavation are mold-made discus lamps decorated with volutes and palmettes, dating to the end of the first–beginning of the second century CE (Fig. 8:36–40; Rosenthal-Heginbottom 1995:245). The discus in all of the lamps is broken, a practice ascribed to Jewish or Samaritan communities (Tal and Teixeira Bastos 2012).
Stone Vessels. Several measuring cups made of soft limestone that date to the end of the Second Temple period were discovered (Fig. 8:41, 42). Stone measuring cups were used by the local Jewish population during this period (Cahill 1992:209–210, Fig. 20:1–5).
The Byzantine Period. Several pottery sherds from the Byzantine periodwere discovered in soil accumulations overlying the architectural remains of the Roman period. These finds include a fragment of a Gaza storage jar with a gutter on the inside of its rim, dating from the end of the fourth–sixth centuries CE (Fig. 9:17; Majcherek 1995:168–169, Pl. 3:3, 6).
The overwhelming majority of the ceramic artifacts in the excavation date to the Early Roman period. These finds include several imported tableware vessels and a large selection of household wares, cooking utensils and storage vessels of local and regional production. Some of the locally manufactured vessels imitate Judean pottery of this period, while others are crafted in the tradition of the coastal region. Similarly, the storage jars are associated with two distinct traditions: half are bag-shaped jars produced in the Judean tradition, and half are Ashqelon jars crafted in the coastal tradition. Both the local vessels and the imported ones date to the late first–early second centuries CE.
The Glass Finds
The excavated building yielded only ten fragments of free-blown vessels of greenish or blue glass overlayed with a dark and silver crust. Three diagnostic specimens include two bowls (Fig.10:1, 2) and a small cosmetic bottle (Fig. 10:3). Bowl No. 1 was unearthed from a floor level in Area C. It belongs to a well-known family of crimped-trail bowls, which is found in this region mainly in late first–early second centuries CE contexts. Bowl No. 2, with a double-fold, which possibly ran under the rim, now missing, came from a fill in Areas D (Locus 106). Similar bowls, deformed by fire, were identified in Moshav Nir Gallim, in an industrial pit dated by coins to 11–65 CE or slightly later (Dagot 2008
: Figs 5, 6). Bottle No. 3, a small candlestick-bottle, was unearthed in a fill in Area F. Its triangular body, flat base and very thick walls are characteristic of a subtype dating to the late first–early second centuries CE.
All of the fragments are typically found in settlements and tombs throughout the country, but particularly in Judea between the two Jewish Revolts. Moreover, the resemblance of these vessels to those used by a contemporary population in Judea may possibly attest to a Jewish presence at the site.
The excavation finds substantiate the conclusions derived from previous excavations, that a Jewish settlement existed at the site in the Early Roman period (first–early second centuries CE). The architectural remains uncovered in Area C were probably part of a domestic structure with a courtyard where household activities took place, including, among other things, milling grain and food production. Area F revealed a peristyle courtyard that was probably part of a massive building with rooms surrounding the courtyard. A pool exposed in the courtyard was used to collect runoff (impluvium). The columns that collapsed all fell in the same direction, to the east, suggesting, like the toppled building stones and plaster fragments, that the complex was destroyed in a violent episode, possibly by an earthquake.