During May 2003 an excavation was conducted in southern Nahariyya, south of the ‘En Sara neighborhood, in the northern part of Khirbat el-Mallaha (Permit No. A-3909*; map ref. NIG 207994/766143; OIG 157994/266143), in the wake of development. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Nahariyya Municipality, was directed by D. Avshalom-Gorni (drafting and photography), with the assistance of N. Getzov (surveying and photography), Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), H. Tahan (drawing) and workers from the Ministry of Labor.
The excavation was conducted north of the Nahal Bet Ha-‘Emeq mouth, on a kurkar hill next to the seashore. Burial caves had been exposed on the western slope of the hill in the past and on the southern slope were sections of mosiacs, remains of walls and masonry stones, as well as the remains of two rock-hewn pools. The site continues south of Nahal Bet Ha-‘Emeq, within the grounds of Moshav Shave Ziyyon, where a church was exposed (IAA Reports 14:10).
Two areas were opened, 20 m apart.
Area A. A hewn rectangular shaft (1.5 × 2 .1 m, depth 0.9 m), oriented northeast–southwest, which contained numerous fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Hellenistic period (Loci 105, 108), was exposed. The finds included bowls and kraters (13%; Fig. 1:1–5), cooking pots (41%; Fig. 1:6, 7), frying pans and lids (20%; Fig. 1:8–11), juglet (Fig. 1:12), locally produced jars with twisted handles in Phoenician tradition (24%; Fig. 1:13) and the base of an imported amphora (Fig. 1:15), as well as stands (2%; Fig. 1:16) and an oven fragment (Fig. 1:14). The assemblage is characteristic of deposits from the end of the Hellenistic period in the north of the country and it did not contain any imported vessels, other than the single fragment of an amphora base. The vessels seem to have been discarded in the shaft, whose quarrying was never completed and its purpose is unclear.
Area B. The remains of a winepress (14 sq m; Figs. 2, 3) were uncovered. Part of the treading floor was exposed on the eastern side of the winepress. Only a small part of the floor, paved with a white mosaic, was preserved. Part of a vat was positioned in the middle of the floor where a press used to squeeze the grapes. A plastered filtration vat (L106) was revealed west of the treading floor. Its bottom was made of white mosaic and a through-hole in its western wall led to the collecting vat (L103; 2.5 × 3 .0 m). Only the eastern part of the vat was excavated and several layers of plaster had been applied to its walls during the course of its use. The floor of the vat was a mosaic of white tesserae and in the northwestern corner steps were partially exposed that descended from the upper edge of the vat to its bottom. A ramp paved with white tesserae was exposed around the collecting and filtration vats. All that remained of the walls that surrounded the collecting vat were the rock-hewn foundations.
The artifacts from Area B dated to the Byzantine period and included imported bowls red slipped and well-fired (8%; Fig. 1:17, 18) that dated to the beginning of the sixth century CE, as well as two groups of barrel-shaped jars. The first has a high neck, molded rim and curved shoulder (60%; Fig. 1:19–21) and is widespread in the Galilee, dating to the fourth–fifth centuries CE. The second has a short neck, plain rim and drooping shoulders (32%; Fig. 1:22, 23). These jars are made of clay that contains coarse sand and dark brown temper that is darker than the color of the clay. They are more characteristic of the southern Byzantine sites, such as Caesarea and are rarely found in Byzantine sites in the Galilee. A lamp (1:24) of the Byzantine period was also found. Since this was a winepress no other forms of vessels were found in the assemblage, such as bowls and kraters or cooking vessels and jugs of indigenous clay that are characteristic of settlement sites. Based on the finds, the final use of the installation is dated to the beginning of the sixth centuries CE.
North of the winepress a wall (W102) built on top of bedrock, parallel to the northern wall (W111) of the collecting vat, was exposed. The wall, preserved two courses high, was probably part of another building that was not excavated. The area between Walls 102 and 111 (L104) was filled with dark red soil mixed with numerous potsherds, mostly jars from the fifth century CE, similar to the jar from the assemblage in Area B (Fig. 1:22).
This winepress is of the linear type, whereby the treading floor, filtration vat and collecting vat are positioned in a file. A similar winepress is known from Horbat Masref (Map of Akhziv (1) and Map of Hanita (2):71*) and these winepresses prevail in the Galilee during the Byzantine period.