During July 1999 a trial excavation was conducted at Khirbat el-Fatuna (Permit No. A-3076*; map ref. NIG 1761–5/6380–6; OIG 1261–5/1380–6), in the wake of digging a trench prior to the installation of an oil pipeline. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by K. Sari, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology), M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (pottery drawing), R. Jackson-Tal (glass vessels) and A. Pikovski (drawing of glass vessels).
Ten squares were excavated in an attempt to evaluate the nature of the ancient remains that were damaged by modern development work. Nine of the squares contained no architectural remains and three of them were devoid of any material finds. Several of the squares contained pottery and glass vessels that apparently originated in refuse pits.
The excavation in all the squares reached a depth of 1 m, until a layer of sand that was completely barren of any archaeological finds.
Mostly ruinous walls (W120, W121; Fig. 1) and a section of a pavement whose relation to the walls could not be ascertained were exposed in one of the squares. Poorly preserved human bones within a layer of sand, which was void of any other artifacts, were found lying in an east–west direction near W121. The examination of the bones indicated they belonged to possibly three individuals, two adults, one probably a male, and a child.
The ceramic finds, dating to the Late Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, included bowls (Fig. 2:1–3), cooking pots (Fig. 2:4, 5), jars (Fig. 2:6, 7), a jug (Fig. 2:8), as well as three intact lamps.
The refuse pits and the human bones indicate that the excavation area was possibly located along the fringes of the site, west of the settlement itself. This is evidenced as well by the glass and pottery debris that may attest to production activities nearby.
The Glass Vessels
Ruth A. Jackson-Tal
Approximately 1,000 glass fragments were found, mostly small non-diagnostic ones and industrial remains from the production of vessels. The assemblage consists of a wide range of vessel types, including bowls, bottles, a jug, a kohl bottle and jar, which are well-known from habitation and funerary contexts in the region. The vessels, made of pale blue, green, yellow and colorless glass with tinges, are covered with lime incrustation, silvery weathering and shining iridescence. All are free-blown and date to the Late Roman and the beginning of the Byzantine period. One fragment, dating to the Islamic period, is not illustrated because of its minute size. The importance of the assemblage lies in its great similarity to vessels at other sites in the region, particularly at Khirbat Ni‘ana. A production center probably operated at the site, contemporary with the workshop at Khirbat Ni‘ana and both manufactured similar vessels. The geographic and quantitative distribution of the vessel types supports the proposal that sees numerous operating workshops in the Land of Israel during the latter part of the Roman period and the beginning of the Byzantine period.
Bowls. Various bowl types were found.
Fig. 3:1 is a bowl with a curved rim and a horizontal ridge below it (fourth century CE).
Fig. 3:2, 3 are two bowls with curved rims that are slightly everted and walls curving inward. The first is undecorated and the second is adorned with glass trails (fourth–fifth centuries CE).
Fig. 3:4 is a bowl that has a rim folded out along the entire length of the wall and curves in (fourth century CE).
Fig. 3:5 is a bowl with a broadly folded hollow rim (fourth–fifth centuries CE).
Fig. 3:6 is the base of a bowl that is made of glass trails intertwined around a thickened bottom (fourth–fifth centuries CE).
Fig. 3:7 is a bottle with a funnel mouth that is folded in, an elongated neck and a sloping shoulder (fourth–fifth centuries CE).
Fig. 3:8 is a bottle that has a curved funnel-shaped mouth with horizontal trails added below the rim (fourth–fifth century CE).
Fig. 3:9 is a vessel that has a folded in funnel-shaped mouth, a narrow cylindrical neck and the remains of a handle (fourth–fifth centuries CE). It may be either a jug or a kohl bottle.
Double kohl bottle
Fig. 3:10 is a vessel that has a folded in upright rim, the remains of a loop handle on the side and a basket handle (fourth–fifth centuries CE).
Lump of industrial glass
Fig. 3:11 is a lump of raw glass that was used for melting during the industrial production of glass vessels that probably operated at the site. Similar remains were found in other baskets.