Area A
A walled monastery (33 × 33 m) was exposed that included a main building in its northwestern part (18×18 m) and service wings in its eastern and southern parts (Fig. 2).
The service wings were partially excavated and it seems that they were delineated by a wall that was exposed mainly in the north (W1) and in sections in the east (W3, W25) and south (W26). In the middle of the courtyard was a depression (L173) that probably represents a collapsed cistern (not excavated). In the northeastern part of the service wing was a surface (Room 6) that was paved and lined with flagstones (L121; 6 × 6 m), which apparently functioned as the treading floor of a winepress. The walls that delineated it were preserved to a height of 0.4–0.5 m. The flagstone pavement had been robbed but the negatives of the stones remained in the plaster bedding. The pavement descended gently to the south.
The main building, whose walls were preserved to a substantial height (1.4–2.0 m), had a central courtyard (R5; 5 × 9 m) that was entered from the east by way of a narrow opening in Wall 24 (L167). On either side of the opening were door jambs. A recess, which apparently contained the door’s locking mechanism, was discerned in the northern jamb.
Next to the southern side of the opening a staircase was built that led to a second story. On the southwestern side of the courtyard a room was exposed (R2; L154; 3.2 × 3.3 m) and it seems that there were other rooms next to it, to the east, which have not yet been exposed. An opening with an arched lintel that was entirely preserved led to the room from the courtyard, and in the eastern wall (W5) of the room was a closet (L124) equipped with a groove in its sides for incorporating a wooden shelf and another groove that was meant for a hinged door at its front.
In the northern part of the courtyard were three rooms that were arranged in a row from west to east. An opening led from the courtyard to the middle room which served as a chapel (R1; L166; 3.7 × 6.2 m). The room was paved with a mosaic and its walls were treated with white lime-based plaster that was applied to a mud undercoat. A meticulously dressed door jamb was discovered on the eastern side of the opening and it seems that a similar door jamb that has not yet been exposed is also standing on the western side. Two openings led from the middle room, one to the western room (R4; L170; 2.0 × 3.7 m) and the other to the eastern room which was paved with flagstones (R3; 3.0 × 3.2 m). Below the floor of the eastern room were two tombs, each measuring 0.7 × 1.7 m. A cross was carved on the southern tomb. On the eastern side of the room was an apse (L169; diam. 2.8 m) paved with a white mosaic floor and whose walls were made of mudbricks and lined with lime plaster. In the seam between the apse mosaic and the flagstone pavement to its west were two notches into which chancel screens were inserted. The fragments of one of the screens, which were made of soft chalk, were found in the collapse layer. Based on the thickness of the building’s outer walls (W6 in the west, W16 in the north; width 1.2–1.5 m; pres. height 2 m), the thickness of the collapse layer and the staircase that was found in the courtyard, it seems that there was a second story on the wings of the building that flanked the courtyard to the west and north.
The chapel’s mosaic floor was adorned with an illustrated carpet (2 × 2 m; Fig. 3); east of it was a Greek inscription, and east of the inscription, opposite the opening that led to the eastern room, was a cross. The decoration on the carpet includes two peacocks that face each other heraldically. Between them is an amphora from which a grape vine emerges that forms five medallions arranged in two rows. In the bottom row on the right side is a donkey (or hare) and above it a bird whose head is lowered. In the lower left medallion are two baskets of grapes (or loaves of bread) and in the medallion above it is a fish. Between the bird and the fish is another medallion with an image of a person praying (orant gesture). Above this medallion is an inscription that mentions Selamon, the deacon and dioiketes (here in the sense of head of the monastery) and a series of names: Fidus, Selamon and Zanys, the latter of which also has a religious title, apocrisiarios. The third row says “May the Lord bless the coenobium of Beth-mor [or Beth Morsy?]. Amen.”
The finds at the monastery were meager and included a small quantity of potsherds from the end of the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE), c. thirty iron nails that provide evidence for a wooden roof, and a bronze hook used to suspend a lamp.