Complex A (Late Roman and Byzantine periods)

The complex included two buildings, partially superimposed.


The Early Building

. Two parallel walls, running east–west (W24, W27), belonged to this structure. The walls were founded on bedrock and consisted of smooth ashlars; some had marginal dressing. The walls were 0.76 m apart and were exposed to c. 1.75–1.80 m, creating a narrow corridor. The western side of both walls formed straight doorjambs over the upper courses; the lowest course continued westward at a height of 0.24 m above the plaster floor (L555), and served as a threshold for room entrances. Wall 24 comprised four courses of well-dressed stones, preserved 1.80 m high; only the upper two courses had marginal dressing and just one header survived in the upper course. The upper side of the stretcher below it had been partly cut out to better accommodate the stones (Fig. 2). Wall 27 had two ashlar courses without marginal dressing, preserved 1.10 m high. A similar building technique was recorded at the nearby sites of Zur Natan (2nd–4th centuries CE) and En Nabi Yamin (2nd century CE). The corridor was enclosed with W25 on the east, built of roughly dressed stones and coated with a gray plaster layer, which lined the lower courses of Walls 24 and 27 and the natural bedrock as well. The fill above the plaster floor (L555) contained mixed finds from the Late Roman–Byzantine and the Early Islamic periods (Figs. 3:8, 9, 13, 14; 4:6), which did not provide a sound date for the early building. Although a small section of the early structure was excavated, its elaborate construction indicates it may have been a monumental building.


The Late Building.

Four massive walls (W13, W17, W18, W19; average width 1.65 m) formed a long and narrow room, whose entrance was not traced. The walls were partly build on bedrock and partly superposed the early building walls. They were constructed from large stones, dressed on their outer faces. The southern wall (W13; length 8 m; Fig. 5) was preserved to a maximum of 3 m high; its lower courses were reached only at the western end. Three of them were set into the hewn bedrock and consisted of rough ashlars with small stone fillings; the higher courses comprised well-cut flat ashlars. The northern wall (W18) was exposed in two segments, separated by an unexcavated balk (width 2 m). Only the lower courses of the western section (c. 3 m long) were preserved 1 m high and built into bedrock of large, roughly dressed stones of uneven size, and smaller stones in the gaps. The eastern side (c. 1.50 m long) was partially built above W24 (Fig. 1, section 4-4). The western wall (W17; exposed length c. 5.75 m; Fig. 1, section 3-3) continued northward, beyond the excavation limits. Its lower courses were set into bedrock and built of roughly hewn uneven stones, with small stones filling the spaces, and preserved 1 m high. Wall 19 in the east partly overlaid Walls 24, 25, and 27 and continued northward, beyond its corner with W18 and outside the excavation limits; its base was not detected. A plaster floor (L533; width 1.80 m) was discovered in the southwestern side of the building, above a 0.70 m high fill that was composed of large, various-sized boulders (L544; Fig. 6). The floor and fill yielded pottery fragments from the Late Roman and Byzantine periods (Fig. 3:3, 6, 7), as well as a basalt grinding bowl (Fig. 7:1). If the later building is assigned to the Byzantine period, the early building should be dated to the Late Roman period.


To the east of the building, beyond W19, part of a floor and small segments of two walls were revealed, extending eastward, beyond the excavation boundaries. Wall 21 (length c. 1.80 m) was one stone wide, two courses high. It was erected above a grayish-plastered floor (L539) that abutted W19 at its second course and could be dated to the Byzantine period. Wall 26 was one stone wide and three courses high; it had cut through the floor (L539) into the fill below it (L549), which contained pottery from Iron II and the Persian and Roman periods (Fig. 3:5, 10). The fill above Floor L539 yielded pottery from the Byzantine period together with a small number of Early Islamic potsherds. The proximity of these architectural features to the eastern limits of the excavation precluded any consideration of their association with Complex A.


Complex B (southern Byzantine building)


The northwestern part of another building was found c. 2 m south of complex A. The floors and bases of its walls, save Wall 11, were not reached. The building had two rooms; one (L504, L523; 3

× 3 m) contained stone collapse and debris, whereas the northwestern corner of the other (L505) was preserved. The northern wall (W11) continued eastward beyond the excavation limits and on the west, it formed a corner with W20, running south. Wall 11 stood four courses high; its base was detected at the outer face, which was founded on bedrock and consisted of smooth ashlars on its exterior; stones were left rough on its interior and small stones filled the spaces between the ashlars. The eastern wall (W10; length 3.5 m, width c. 0.6 m) that separated the two rooms was built of smaller stones than W11; its western face was uneven, its eastern face––smooth. Wall 10 formed a corner with the southern wall (W14; length 2.75 m; Fig. 1, section 2-2), which probably continued eastward.


The upper layer in Room L504 contained mixed finds (Byzantine and Early Islamic periods). A large number of Byzantine storage jar fragments were discovered in L523 (cf. Fig. 3:6–9), as well as a glass bowl fragment from the 3rd–4th centuries CE (Fig. 4:1) and a coin of the Byzantine emperor Justin I (Kool, below, No 4). Glass fragments were also recorded in Room L505 (Fig. 4:4, 5).


To the south of this building a fragmentary wall was exposed, but not excavated.


Unit C


The area between Complexes A and B included several features (Fig. 8):

1. A tabun (L531) was built against W11 and contained jar fragments from the Byzantine period.

2. Two parallel walls (W22, W23), running north–south, were c. 0.18 m apart; W23 was c. 0.5 m higher than W22. Both walls (width c. 0.8 m, length c. 2.0–2.2 m) were preserved two courses high (c. 0.75 m). They abutted W11 to the south and W13 to the north.

3. A stone-lined pit (L542; diam. c. 0.7 m) was excavated to the east and partially below W23. It was cut into bedrock and lined with stones; it was not plastered and contained no diagnostic finds, other than a small number of mixed potsherds (Iron Age, Persian and Roman-Byzantine periods; Fig. 3:1).

4. Two parallel long and flat stones, set on their narrow sides, were c. 0.45 m. higher than Pit 542 and to its northeast. They were probably segments of a drainage channel that originally may have connected to the pit, which would then be a drainage pit.

5. The southern wall of a vault and part of its ceiling were exposed at the eastern fringes of Unit C (L550; height 0.75 m, length 1.7 m). The vault was built against a wall or stone fill between itself and W13 to the north. It was filled to the top and only a probe was cut inside, bearing a few Byzantine-period potsherds. The vault was probably used for drainage through an opening in the ceiling that could be discerned in its eastern, unexcavated part. As the space between the vault and either the pit (L542) or W13 was filled with stones, it is assumed that the pit and vault were posterior to the northern Byzantine building (W13), and could probably be dated to the Early Islamic period.

6. To the south of the vault was a floor segment, yielding mixed pottery from Iron II, and the Roman and Early Islamic periods (Figs. 3:2, 4, 11, 15; 9:2–5).


Unit D


This unit was at the western, lower part of the excavation area and was badly damaged by the construction work. Most of the recovered pottery belonged to the Middle Bronze Age, Iron Age and Persian period, though no architectural elements relating to these periods were revealed. The scanty remains included a layer of small to medium-sized stones (L530) that superposed the soft chalk bedrock (L527) or a brown earth fill (L537) at some places. The fill contained mixed pottery fragments from the Middle Bronze Age, Iron Age and Persian period (Fig. 9:1, 6, 7). At the northern end of the area, inside a small rock-cut cavity, two bronze daggers and two stone pommels that usually appear in MB II tombs were found (Fig. 10). No other evidence for the existence of a tomb was noted, yet the daggers indicate that perhaps the remains attest to a collapsed burial cave that eventually was filled up with stones. Another architectural feature was the base of a wall (W15) that was build into bedrock and preserved three courses high (0.85 m). The fill to the east of the wall consisted of mixed pottery mainly from Iron Age II and the Persian period, as well as a few potsherds from the Byzantine period. The date of the wall is uncertain; it could have been constructed during the Byzantine period, cutting through earlier fills and strata.



Several stone implements and metal artifacts were recovered from the excavation, including a limestone bowl or cup with a hole (Fig. 7:2), a stone spindle whorl (Fig. 7:3), two kohl sticks, the broken one having double pellets at the top (Fig. 7:4, 5), a ring and a broken bracelet (Fig. 7:6, 7), as well as two different pieces from a chain, possibly for the suspension of lamps, or some other hanging device (Fig. 7:8, 9).

The earliest remains at the site date to MB II; the bronze daggers may attest to the presence of tombs or burial caves. The amount of utilitarian pottery from Iron Age II may imply that the site was inhabited during this period, although no architectural remains were related to the pottery. During the Roman and Byzantine periods

Horbat Nashé seems to have expanded considerably, judging by the quantity of finds and the size and opulence of the buildings, in particular those in Complex A. The site was probably still inhabited during the Early Islamic period, though presumably on a smaller scale.



The Glass Finds
Ruth Jackson-Tal


The excavation at

Horbat Nashe yielded fragmentary glass vessels that consisted of tableware, bowls, bottles, jugs, lamps, beakers and wineglasses from various periods. The vessels were free blown; some had applied and fused trails, as well as tonged decoration. About three-quarters of the glass fragments (total 800) were unidentifiable;  c. 140 fragments were identified. The fragments listed below (Table 1) were retrieved from fills and one (No. 3) from a foundation trench.


Bowl 1, which is a very common shape in Israel and its environs, is considered one of the most dominant bowl types during the Late Roman period and the Byzantine period as well. Numerous variations of the type were found in the factory dump at Jalame (second half of the 4th century CE), as well as in later contexts. Bowl 2, characterized by applied fused-in trails, is dated to the Late Roman–Byzantine periods at the Jalame factory dump. Bowl 3 has comparable shapes at Jalame; its form, decoration and fabric strongly suggest a Late Roman–Byzantine date. Bowl 4, with a multiple trail-wound base, has analogies at Jalame, as well as at other sites that are dated to the Late Roman–Early Byzantine periods. Base 5 is a common base type that usually belongs to bowls. It is also dated to the Late Roman–Byzantine periods. No. 6, the wineglass fragment, belongs to a popular type of the Byzantine period.


The vessels described above can be attributed to the Late Roman–Late Byzantine periods (4th–7th centuries CE). Additional diagnostic fragments included a candlestick bottle rim (end of 1st–3rd centuries CE), solid bases of Late Roman beakers (4th century CE types) and bowl fragments with tonged decoration, as well as bottle necks with wavy trails (7th–8th centuries CE) that may suggest a longer duration for the site.



Table 1: Glass Finds






Diam. (cm)






Rim and beginning of wall

Rim: 12.6

Light greenish. Severe pitting. Thick lime deposits. Iridescence. Flaring, folded-out rim, tapering wall.





Rim and wall fragment

Rim: 12

Light greenish. Horizontal turquoise trails below rim. Thick lime deposits. Silver weathering and iridescence. Flaring rounded rim, tapering wall.





Rim and beginning of wall

Rim: 15

Colorless. Greenish tinge. Horizontal blue trails on rim and wall. Silver weathering, iridescence, lime deposits and pitting. Splayed-out, rounded rim, tapering wall.





Base and beginning of wall

Base: 6

Greenish. Severe pitting, silver weathring, iridescence, lime deposits. Splayed-out, multiple trail- wound base, flaring wall. 





Base and wall

Base: 6.5

Greenish. Thick lime deposits, silver weathering, iridescence, pitting. Pushed-in tubular base, splayed-out hollow ring, flaring wall.





Base and part of stem

Base: 4

Bluish green. Severe pitting, lime deposits and silver weathering. Uneven, splayed-out base, concave in center (pontil mark 0.5 cm). Narrow solid stem.


The Coins

Robert Kool


Fifteen copper coins were found during the excavation; eleven were identified (Table 2; Fig. 11). Two of the coins were minted around the Islamic conquest of the area in 630 CE. They are Arab–Byzantine folles (Nos. 6, 7) with irregular ‘cut’ flans. No. 6 carries an unknown Byzantine-period ‘half follis’ countermark (‘K’). Coin finds at the nearby site of Horbat Hanut were likewise mainly from the Early Byzantine until the Early Islamic period. The coins were apparently typical of the money circulating in agriculatural settlements of this area during the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. 


Table 2: Coins




Date (CE)




Constans I












4th–5th centuries



Justin I

Antioch (?)





Justin II






Constans II or Arab–Byzantine












Umayyad (post reform)






Umayyad (post reform)






Umayyad (post reform)






Anonymous Abbasid


832 (=217 AH)