During October 2004, a trial excavation was conducted at Kerem Maharal (Permit No. A-4273; map ref. NIG 19940/72790; OIG 14940/22790), in an area slated for construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Y. Levkowitz, was directed by A. Oshri, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian (surveying) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
Kerem Maharal is located in the southwestern part of the Maharal Valley. The largest Arab settlement of the region, Ajazam, was located here until 1948. The settlement’s source of water was ‘Ein el-Maqura, c. 500 m southeast of the site.
Previous excavations at the site had been carried out by A. and K. Sa‘id within the precincts of the settlement, along its agricultural periphery (winepress) and in a burial field (HA-ESI 118
, HA-ESI 119
, HA-ESI 120
An excavation area (M; Fig. 1) was opened and two squares were excavated; four strata that dated to the Byzantine, Early Islamic, Mamluk and Late Ottoman periods were exposed.
The area, within the new expansion of the Moshav, was located on a natural slope where mechanical equipment had operated in the past and the architectural remains are therefore, poorly preserved.
Stratum IV: Walls 3b, 5 and 6 and a plaster floor (III), which rested on a bedding of small stones that was placed on bedrock, were exposed (Figs. 2, 3). The pottery assemblage dated to the Byzantine period and included bowls (Fig. 4:1–4, 6, 8), jars (Fig. 4:10, 11) and a krater lid (Fig. 4:9).
Stratum III, the Early Islamic period (Umayyad; eighth century CE). Remains of a pavement were discovered. The plan of the building from Stratum IV continued to be used in this period and the floor levels were raised. The pottery vessels on the pavement included a fragment of a handmade, black burnished vessel (Fig. 4:13), a jug decorated with white wash (Fig. 4:12) and lamps of buff-colored clay (Fig. 4:14, 15).
Stratum II (Mamluk period; thirteenth century CE). Walls 2, 3a, and 4, which formed an unclear plan, were ascribed to this layer. Wall 3a was built on the foundation of an earlier wall from Stratum IV (3b). Only scant remains were exposed of the building’s floor, which probably consisted of flagstones. Painted body fragments and a decorated bowl (Fig. 4:5, 7) were discovered.
Stratum I (Late Ottoman period; nineteenth century CE). Wall 1 and ovens (Loci 7, 9) were uncovered, as well as an Ottoman pipe fragment (Fig. 4:16).
Remains of poorly preserved residential buildings were exposed in the four strata; however, their dates and designations are rather clear. The results of the excavation are important mainly in determining the northern boundary of the settlement during these periods.