Area A (Fig. 3)
Five refuse pits (L102–L106) dug into the hard, clayey soil were partially excavated, and two additional pits (L107 and L108) were documented during the site’s inspection. The pits were full of earth, Pits 102–104 also containing fine ash. Pit 106, uncovered in the north of the excavation area, was associated with a pottery concentration (L101) that extended over an undefined area. The pit and the pottery concentration were damaged by a cist grave (L109), dug in the Byzantine period. Post-excavation inspection identified the remains of additional graves, from which several chalk stones were found in the vicinity of Pit 106. Pit 102 was a small pit (1.2 m diam., c. 0.3 m deep; Fig. 4). Pit 107 (1 m excavated depth) was found close to Pit 102, but not joined to it. Only the bottom parts of Pits 105 and 108 were extant. Pit 103 (c. 0.5 m deep; Fig. 5) and Pit 104 (c. 0.7 deep), small pits encountered directly beneath the surface, were partially excavated.
The pits yielded numerous potsherds attributed to the Chalcolithic Ghassulian culture, thus dating the pits. The pottery finds include bowls, some small and some V-shaped (Fig. 6:1–9), kraters (Fig. 6:10–13), including a thumb-impressed krater (Fig. 6:12) and a krater with a rounded everted rim (Fig. 6:13), jars (Fig. 7:1–3) including a jar with a thumb-impressed rim (Fig. 7:3), holemouths (Fig. 7:4–7), a possible churn fragment (Fig. 7:8), a cornet base (Fig. 7:9), a variety of flat bases (Fig. 7:10–18) and handles (Fig. 7:19, 20). The pottery assemblage is similar to that retrieved in previous excavations at the site (Israel, Aladjem and Milevski 2014; Fraiberg, Oron and Nagar 2017).
The excavation also yielded a few flint items (see below, Abulafia) and a stone tool (Fig. 8:1; L100, Basket 1003) whose function is not clear. Four of the fragmentary animal bones retrieved were identified: three bones from Pit 106 belong to a large mammal, probably cattle, whose species and size could not be identified; the fourth bone from Pit 102 is an upper tooth of a goat or sheep.
Area B (Fig. 9)
Building 1. Remains of walls and floors, probably of a single building, were unearthed in the northwestern part of Area B (Fig. 10). Two walls (W213, W241) were built of a foundation layer of small chalk fieldstones overlain by upper courses of semi-dressed chalk stones, on a fill of soft brown, clayey soil (L261). The walls were preserved to a height of two–three upper courses, although many of the stones had been robbed. On both sides of W213, patches of a floor (L216, L236) made of densely packed dark brown earth mixed with small chalk stones, were uncovered. Stone piles (L206, L208, L217, L256) on the floor alongside W213, probably came from the collapsed walls. On the eastern side of the building, a wall foundation (W243) of small chalk fieldstones and a floor bedding (L255) of small and medium-sized stones bonded in dark brown-black mud-plaster, were unearthed.
The few potsherds retrieved in Building 1 include open and closed cooking pots (Fig. 11:7, 8, 10) dated from the Late Byzantine to the beginning of the Early Islamic period, a Gaza Ware jar (Fig. 11:12) of a type that first appeared in the Late Roman–Early Byzantine period and continued to the Late Byzantine period, jugs (Fig. 12:12, 13), and an oil-lamp (Fig. 12:15) dated from the Early Islamic period. The pottery dates Building 1 to the Late Byzantine–Early Islamic periods (fifth to seventh centuries CE).
Building 2. In the southeastern part of Area B, remains of a building comprising two phases were unearthed. The earlier phase includes two wide walls (W223, W262; c. 0.8 m wide) and possibly two additional walls (W219, W265). The walls were built of different-sized fieldstones. Wall 265 was poorly preserved, but it may have formed a corner with W262. A brown earth fill (L260; Fig. 13) abutting the exterior face of W223, was probably the bedding of a stone floor (L259), of which only small patches were preserved. The space directly north of the building may have served as a passage or a courtyard. A brown earth fill (L254), similar to fill L260, was found next to W219, and may also be attributed to the earlier phase of the building. The accumulation layers (L260, L232) on either side of W223 yielded a few bowls (Fig. 11:4) and cooking pots (Fig. 11:9) dating from the Late Byzantine period, and many body sherds of baggy-shaped jars (not illustrated), probably dating the early phase of the building to the Late Byzantine period.
In the building’s second phase, W223 and W262 continued in use. The earlier stone floor L259 was covered over with a fill of earth, stones and a small amount of ash, above which new stone floors were installed. The two floors (L233, L257) were made of fieldstones of different sizes set in brown earth; they may be part of the same floor. Floors 233 and 257 were found covered with a layer of ash (L246), in which a fragment of an Early Islamic glass bottle was retrieved (below, Gorin-Rosen). Two other floors (L248, L258; Fig. 14) exposed adjacent and west of W262 were attributed to the building’s later phase. Floor 248 was made of brown earth and was overlain by a large quantity of potsherds. Floor 258 was made of crushed chalk, and it may have abutted a wall (W250) but this was not ascertained due to the excavation constrictions. The many potsherds on the floors included basins (Fig. 11:5) and bag-shaped jars (Fig. 11:15, 16), dating from the Late Byzantine and beginning of the Early Islamic periods, thus dating the building’s later phase.
In Building 2, disturbed loci (L207, L210, L226, L228, L244, L245), damaged by modern earthworks, yielded sherds of additional pottery vessels, including LRC bowls (Fig. 11:1, 2) dated to the late fifth–mid-sixth century CE, as well the base of a red-slipped and decorated imported bowl (Fig. 11:3), a basin (Fig. 11:6), a cooking ware lid (Fig. 11:11), Gaza Ware jars (Fig. 11:13) and bag-shaped jars (Figs. 11:14; 12:11), all dating from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. A limestone mortar was also found here (Fig. 8:3).
A few marble pieces, including a fragment of a small marble pillar (Fig. 8:2), retrieved in a disturbed fill layer (L207), may indicate the presence of a church or chapel in the vicinity. Chancel-screen posts and a capital were found at the site in previous excavations, (Israel, Aladjem and Milevski 2014). Locus 207 also contained potsherds, including a jug (Fig. 11:17) dating from the Late Byzantine–Early Islamic periods, and two bronze coins: one minted in Antioch by Constantine II (335–340 CE; Basket 2010; IAA 166202) and the other unidentified (Basket 2010).
Building 3. A new building was built over Building 2 that had fallen out of use in the Early Islamic period, but its remains were mostly destroyed due to their proximity to the surface. Three walls (W222, W229, W252; Fig. 15) overlay the Building 1 floor (L257), two of them cutting into the ash layer (L246) overlying the floor. A new floor (L224) made of hard black clayey soil was laid over the ash layer. These remains were preserved as they were buried under a layer of stone collapse. In the northwestern part of the area, two wall stubs (W237, W238), built above the Building 2 floors, enclosed a room, also attributed to Building 3. Only the foundations courses, composed of semi-dressed chalk stones, were preserved. The presence of a hard layer resembling the raw material of mudbricks indicates that mudbrick courses were apparently built on the stone foundations. Most of the floors (L200, L203, L209, L253) were disturbed by recent earthworks. Abbasid pottery sherds and glass vessel fragments (below, Gorin-Rosen) date the final use of the building and its abandonment to the Abbasid period (eighth to ninth centuries CE).
The pottery assemblage includes a glazed bowl (Fig. 12:1), a simple bowl with an inverted rim (Fig. 12:2), a bowl with a thickened inverted rim (Fig. 12:3), FBW or Fine Islamic Ware bowl bases (Fig. 12:4, 5), a base of a large bowl (Fig. 12:6), basins (Fig. 12:7–10) and a lamp fragment with an incised bird decoration (Fig. 12:14). Two coins were retrieved from the surface before the excavation, one an Abbasid fals (L203, Basket 2100; IAA 166203), the other an unidentified bronze coin (L203, Basket 2007).
In Area B, a few Chalcolithic potsherds and flint items were retrieved in soil accumulations above the virgin soil. natural level of the ground yielded. A body sherd of a Chalcolithic red and black-slipped bowl was also recovered, just below the ground surface.
Glass Finds
Yael Gorin-Rosen
In Area B, about 30 glass fragments were retrieved; half were identified, and the other half were non-diagnostic body fragments. All the glass vessels date from the Early Islamic period (mostly seventh–eighth centuries CE). The assemblage includes a bowl with a delicate fire-rounded rim and straight walls (L203); a hollow, folded bowl rim (L203); a bowl with a thickened rim and a small fragment of the bowl's wall attached to the base (L200); a fire-rounded rim fragment of a beaker made of olive-greenish colored glass (L212, found in a trial trench northwest of W222; not in plan); and a slightly pushed-in base of a cylindrical beaker (L211, overlying L254 and W219).
Also recovered in the ash layer in Building 2 (L246) was a rim and neck fragment—the rim is inverted and rounded, and the neck is horizontally ribbed with four uneven ribs—of a relatively thin-walled bottle made of greenish blue glass covered with enamel-like silvery weathering. Ribbed-neck bottles with a few horizontal ribs first appeared in Umayyad period and continued to appear in the Abbasid period. Bottles of this type have been found throughout the country, including the Negev, at sites such as Nahal ‘Anim (Winter 2017a:2, Fig. 3:1, 4, and see references there to Hura, Tel ‘Ira, Nahal Besor, Ramla and other sites). Based on the fabric and technique, the bottle is attributed to the Umayyad period. A few bottle and phial bases (L203, L210) and a pinched handle fragment (L210) were also retrieved.
These types of glass vessels are well-known from sites dating from the beginning of the Early Islamic period in the Northern Negev, among them Hura (Gorin-Rosen 2012), Nahal ‘Anim (Winter 2017a) and nearby Horbat Patot (Winter 2017b), as well as throughout the country.
Flint Items
Talia Abulafia
The excavation yielded a few knapped flint items (Table 1; N=16) consisting mainly of core debitage, most of them flakes that could not be attributed to any particular culture. The assemblage contains a flake core with three striking platforms (Fig. 16:1; L102, Basket 1005/2), and three tools, two of which were fashioned on blades, one a truncated diagonal blade (Fig. 16:2; L102, Basket 1005/3) and the other a backed bladelet with denticulation on the opposing cutting edge and traces of sickle sheen (Fig. 16:3; L102, Basket 1005/1).
Table 1. Flint items
Primary blades