During April–May 2005 a trial excavation was conducted followed in September–October 2006 by a salvage excavation in the municipal park in Tiberias (Permit No. A-4886; map ref. NIG 25082/74365; OIG 20082/24365), prior to the construction of an underground car park. The excavations, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and with the financial support of the Tiberias Economics Company, were directed by M. Hartal, with the participation of E. Amos, A. Najjar and F. Abu Zeidan (area supervisors), Y. Yaakoby (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirski (surveying), Y. Arnon (pottery reading), D. Syon (numismatics) and the Sky Balloon Company (aerial photography).
The trial excavation revealed that the remains were covered with a layer of soil (thickness c. 1.50 m) that was devoid of finds; this layer was removed by means of mechanical equipment. The salvage excavation was conducted in the southern part of the municipal park (Area D in the trial excavation).
The remains of a residential quarter (Figs. 1, 2) were exposed which was established in the ninth century CE in the northwestern corner of ancient Tiberias. Its walls were built of mud bricks set on a foundation of fieldstones and roughly hewn stones. The bottom parts of the walls were built of roughly hewn basalt and ashlars stones in secondary use. These were made of dry construction, without bonding material, and were set in shallow trenches as a foundation for the mud-brick walls that did not survive. Clay was applied to most of the walls and a few of them were treated with white plaster. No dressed stones were found in the openings and it seems that the doorframes were made of wood. It is also apparent that the windows were similarly framed even though the walls were not preserved to the height of their sills. The floors were mostly made of tamped earth, while only a few were made of flagstones that were randomly arranged. With the exception of one courtyard, no stone floor was found that covered an entire room. This may indicate that these were used as work surfaces in the courtyards where tamped earth floors were placed. It can reasonably be assumed that the roofs of the house were also made of tamped earth that was placed on wooden beams and reeds.
No overall plan was noted in the neighborhood, nor was it possible to discern streets or alleys. Moreover it seems that buildings were added or enlarged over time based on the ability to do so, without any central planning. Next to most of the buildings were round pits that were dug in the ground and lined with basalt (Fig. 3), without plaster or a floor. Similar pits were found in strata contemporary with the Abbasid period elsewhere in Tiberias; they were probably used as septic pits. Tabuns (Fig. 4), millstones and grinding bowls were found in the courtyards. The finds included storage vessels, cooking vessels, tableware, clay lamps, fragments of clay figurines and glass and metal vessels. Practically no expensive tableware was discovered. Strings of perforated shells were used as jewelry. The artifacts that were recovered in the excavation indicate that the people who resided here, on the fringes of the city, belonged to the lower class.
The neighborhood was uninhabited prior to the Abbasid period. Beneath the buildings was a layer of clayey soil, an accumulation of wadi cobbles and potsherds, most of which date to the Late Roman period with a few from the Early and Middle Roman, the Byzantine and Umayyad periods. It seems that these potsherds were deposited by the flood waters and they originated from nearby settlement layers whose location has not yet been determined. A similar phenomenon was also noted in other excavations in the city. In the Roman period a shallow lagoon probably formed in the northern part of Tiberias, which gradually became blocked. In the excavation a channel that contained wadi cobbles and potsherds that date to the Roman and Byzantine periods (Fig. 5) was discerned which cut through the layers of clay. It seems that the area, which was first inhabited in the ninth century CE, was damaged by a flood in the tenth century CE. At this time a number of structures were destroyed and a new channel (Figs. 6, 7) was created that ran parallel to the channel of the Roman period which was blocked by houses built over it. The sides of the new channel were reinforced with stone construction; the buildings adjacent to it were abandoned and others were built some distance away. In the eleventh century CE the area along the channel was flooded once again but it does not seem that much damage was caused at that time. The western part of the area was deserted for some reason in the tenth century CE, perhaps stemming from the flood damage to the buildings which were not renovated. In the eastern part a new building was erected that was better constructed; it included a number of rooms and a courtyard, part of which was paved with basalt stones. A staircase was built (Fig. 8) along one of the walls, and along another wall were two tabuns and round containers surrounded by ash (Fig. 9).
The building existed for a prolonged period during which walls were destroyed, others were built and floors were raised. On one of the floors were the remains of a fierce conflagration.
At the beginning of the eleventh century CE the neighborhood was abandoned together with other quarters of the city. It seems that a deterioration of the security situation necessitated the consolidation and fortification of the city, a step that left the deserted neighborhood outside the city limits.