Stratum III (Byzantine Period)
A winepress (Figs. 1, 2) that consisted of treading floors paved with mosaics (Loci 514, 542) and collecting vats (Loci 509, 523), arranged in L-shape, was exposed. Walls built of elongated ashlar stones (W510, W512) delimited the trapezoid-shaped area of the collecting vats, which dictated their plan and indicated they were built at the same time. The western collecting vat (L523) had an elongated trapezoidal shape and its sides and floor were coated with hydraulic plaster; a settling pit was cut in the southern part of the floor (Fig. 1: Section 2-2). Attached to the western side of Collecting Vat 523 was a wall (W530) built of a single row of ashlar stones to a height of a single course. It seems that W530 served as a step, upon which covering slabs were placed.
The eastern collecting vat (L509) was also trapezoidal, had plastered walls, a circular settling pit in the northeastern corner and steps next to the western side (Fig. 1: Section 1-1).
The upper part of W512 was lined with mortar, whereas the tops of the other walls (W527–W529) and the steps alongside W527 were covered with white mosaics (2 × 2 cm). No direct connection was discerned between the collecting vats; however, it is assumed that a connection was below W543 that was ascribed to Stratum II (Fig. 1: Section 1-1).
Sections of mosaic-paved treading floors (Loci 514, 542) were excavated in the eastern part and extended beyond the limits of the excavation. A robbed wall (W544) separated between the southern (L542) and the northern (L514) treading floors. Mosaic bedding that abutted W528 was in the western part of Treading Floor 514. Two repair phases were noted in the mosaic (3 × 3 cm) of the northern treading floor. No connection was found between Treading Floor 514 and Collecting Vat 509 to its west, but a channel probably existed in the upper part of W528.
Treading Floor 542 was lined with a white mosaic (2 × 2 cm) that was laid down in different directions and included a blue frame. It was founded on top of elongated ashlar stones, similar to the walls of the collecting vats to the north. The southern part of the treading floor was severed by a modern drainage channel (W541) and an Ottoman drainage pipe that was located beneath the paved Ottoman road, which also damaged the mosaic (see Stratum I below).
West of Treading Floor 542 and south of the collecting vats was an open area (L520) enclosed from the west by the southern part of W530, which was the continuation of Wall 538. Its northern and eastern walls (W510, W535) were built of elongated ashlar stones, coated with plaster on their exterior. Plaster was discerned on the eastern corner of W510 and in the connection between W510 and W535. A small section of a plaster floor that abutted W510 survived in this corner.
It seems that this area, where no walls or floors were discerned, was used as an open work area whose floor did not survive due later disturbances. This work area was also trapezoidal, a feature that characterized the entire industrial facility.
The western side of the excavation was partially excavated, revealing a plaster floor (L536) and wall foundations (W531, W534) that were built of one row of elongated ashlar stones. All of these elements can be ascribed to another work surface that was, in all likelihood, paved with tamped plaster (L536).
A tamped plaster floor (L522) north of W531 was also attributed to Stratum III. Another floor (L519) of small and medium fieldstones could either be ascribed to one more work surface that was north of the collecting vats or it could have been a road that led toward the winepress. West of Floor 522 and next to the western boundary of the excavation was another wall (W537) whose nature is unclear.
The ceramic finds included bowls (Fig. 3:1–4): the bowls in Fig. 3:1 dating from the end of the fifth–middle of the seventh century CE and in Fig. 3:3 dating to the sixth century CE, originated in Phocaea in Anatolia; a Cypriot bowl in Fig. 3:2 dated to the fifth–seventh centuries CE and the bowl in Fig. 3:4 was of Egyptian provenance and dated up to the eighth century CE, a Bet She’an-type krater (Fig. 3:5) and jars from the Byzantine period (Fig. 3:6–9).
Stratum II (Early Islamic Period)
Wall sections and a floor of tamped earth that were located north of the winepress from Stratum III were ascribed to this stratum. Walls (W524, W525), built on top of Floor 519 to the north of the winepress, consisted of ashlar stones; and were abutted by fragments of a tamped earth floor (L506). The northeastern part of Floor 506 was damaged by an Ottoman pit and its southern part was apparently severed by the robber trench of W512. The stratum could not be dated with certainty due to these later disturbances and the meager amount of recovered ceramic finds. Nevertheless, the excavation of the Floor 506 uncovered Byzantine potsherds and a very small number of glazed sherds (splash ware) of bowls that dated to the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 4:1–3).
These fragmented remains indicate that the collecting vats from Stratum III were converted into covered pools for storing water in this stratum. The cessation of use of the Byzantine winepress is consistent with the ban on wine consumption during the Islamic period. The staircase in the eastern Collecting Vat 509 was negated and W543, which was built on top of the steps and next to W527 (Figs. 1: Section 2-2; 5), served as a foundation for a vault, whose continuation was located in the eastern balk of the excavation (W540). The flat stone covering in the western Collecting Vat 523 continued to be used in this stratum. The storage pools contained an abundant fill that comprised cattle bones and potsherds from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, including handmade pottery with geometric decorations (Fig. 4:7, 8), jars of reddish brown clay from the Ottoman period (Fig. 4:5, 6), Gaza ware, including a jar (Fig. 4:4) and flask (Fig. 4:9), a small gray pipe that is dated to the seventeenth century CE (Fig. 4:11) and a hookah (Fig. 4:10).
The geometric-decorated handmade pottery prevalent in the fill and the Ottoman pottery dominating the upper layers of the fill indicate that the pools were converted into refuse pits during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, once their original use was no longer practiced.
Stratum I (Ottoman Period)
A stone-paved road (L500; Figs. 1, 6), which was partly located along the surface north of an adjacent synagogue, was excavated. The road consisted of medium-sized limestone and was exposed for a distance of 24 m (max. width 3 m). It seems that the road, as well as the drainage pipes beneath it, damaged the ancient remains.
The excavation revealed a winepress from the Byzantine period (Stratum III) that had two treading floors and two collecting vats, the function of the elongated vat (L523) is insufficiently clear. The meager remains ascribed to Stratum II and dating to the Early Islamic period indicate that the collecting vats of Stratum III were converted into water-storing pools in this stratum. The handmade geometric-decorated pottery found in the fill of the storage pools shows that the pools, no longer in use during the Mamluk period, were converted into refuse pits until the Ottoman period, to which the paved road can also be attributed.