During July–August 2005 and March–April 2006, salvage excavations were conducted at Khirbat esh-Shubeika (Permit Nos. A-4550, A-4764; map ref. NIG 216487/769051; OIG 166487/269051), prior to setting a communications antenna. The excavations, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Cellcom and Pelephone Companies, were directed by Y. Lerer, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), H. Tahan (surveying and pottery drawing), A. Shapiro (GPS), H. Smithline (field photography), D. Syon (metal detection), N. Zak (drafting), C. Amit (studio photography), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), N. Getzov (pottery reading), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Previous excavations at the site (Eretz Zafon
: 219–349; HA-ESI 117
; Fig. 1) revealed a settlement that was first established in Middle Bronze II, continued in the Hellenistic period and flourished in the Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods.
Two squares were opened east of the site in the 2005 season; a third square was opened in the 2006 season. Three settlement strata were exposed.
Stratum 3. Fragments of pottery vessels from Middle Bronze II, such as a jar’s rim (Fig. 3:1) were found in Square 2 (L112) and in another square, in a layer of terra rossa soil that overlay the dolomite bedrock. Two walls, exposed in Square 2, were built of medium and large fieldstones and founded on bedrock. Wall 1 was oriented north–south and Wall 2 was perpendicular to it (Fig. 2). A coin (IAA 100242), which dated to the Late Roman period (364–375 CE) and had no stratigraphic context as it penetrated into the stratum, was also found.
Stratum 2. A layer of gray soil was exposed in all three squares. It had no architectural remains, yet pottery vessels that dated to the Byzantine period were found, including a bowl (Fig. 3:2), a krater (Fig. 3:3), a plate (Fig. 3:4), jars (Fig. 3:5–10) and an amphora (Fig. 3:11). Fragments of glass vessels were found (below), as well as two coins: one from the reign of Justin II (573–574 CE; IAA 100244) and the other, dating to the years 591–592 CE (IAA 100240). In addition, metallic artifacts were uncovered and noteworthy among them was a bronze ornament in the image of a bird (Fig. 5).
Stratum 1. A layer of dark soil that had numerous burnt spots, pottery vessels, including a krater (Fig. 4:1) and a glazed plate fragment (Fig. 4:2), lumps of raw glass and two coins from the Umayyad period: one from the Damascus mint (IAA 100241) and the other from the Tiberias mint (IAA 100243). No architectural remains were found, other than a tomb without a grave marker.
The glass vessels consisted of two hundred and thirty-one fragments, c. 100 of which were identified and dated, in spite of the poor preservation and the very small size. Two fragments, a rim of a molded bowl in deep blue hue, decorated with engraving on the inside below the rim and a base fragment of a blown vessel were dated to the Early Roman period. Most of the finds, however, dated to the end of the Byzantine and the Umayyad periods and included wine goblets with hollow base rings; bottles with a folded-in rim and a neck that is decorated with thin, horizontal trails; bottles whose necks are decorated with a thick undulating trail, which are characteristic to the end of the Byzantine and Umayyad periods. Many fragments of folded-in and rounded rims of bottles, cups, wine goblets or saucer lamps were found. Noteworthy is a rim fragment of a small pale blue glass vessel that was covered with silvery, sandy weathering. The rim is upright and folded-in. A disc of a glass trail that was twisted round and flattened was fused to the outside end of the rim (Fig. 4:3). Except for the marks of the glass trail around it, no other marks could be identified on the surface of the disc. The rim seems to belong to a group of bottles, decorated with a sealed disc that was affixed to the rim of the vessel. Bottles of this type were found at Bet She’an in assemblages that dated to the Umayyad period. Many of the seals bear a Kufic inscription blessing Allah; some are decorated with a star or crescents and some are undecorated. Several similar bottles that bear seals were found at Hammat Gader and Tiberias, but based on the large number found in Bet She’an, they were probably produced there (Hadad S. 2005. Islamic Glass Vessels from the Hebrew University Excavations at Bet Shean. Excavations at Bet Shean Vol. 2. [Qedem Reports 8]. Jerusalem. Pp. 25–27, Pls. 15:288–307, 16:308–316).
A large quantity of industrial waste was found. Of the 100 identified fragments, 43 were glass industrial waste, including small chunks and flakes of raw glass and waste from the bottom of the furnace, which bore lime deposits from the furnace’s foundation. Similar industrial waste was discovered in previous excavations, with fragments of vessels that dated to the end of the Byzantine and the Umayyad periods.
The excavations attest to a settlement layer from Middle Bronze II east of Esh-Shubeika. They also corroborate evidence derived from the previous excavations that during the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, this region was situated along the fringes of the settlement and was probably used as a refuse site.