During June 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted at 6 Weizmann Street in Azor (Permit No. A-4506; map ref. NIG 20899/63185; OIG 15899/13185), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by S. Haddad, was directed by L. Rauchberger, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam and E. Bachar (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (field photography), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), M. Shuiskaya (drawing of finds), A. Berman (numismatics) and M. Ajami, D. Barkan and E. Yannai.
Building A. Remains of a building—a rectangular room oriented north–south (2.25 × 5.70 m)—were exposed in Squares A and D. The walls of the room’s western corner (W100, W101), built of small fieldstones and preserved two courses high, had survived. The walls of the eastern corner (W103, W104), preserved a single course high, were built of small fieldstones mixed with large coarsely dressed stones. One of the stones in W104 was a weight from an olive press, in secondary use (0.26 × 0.35 × 0.53 m). Wall 103 continued northward beyond the corner with W104. Kurkar collapse (L134) was exposed south of the building and probably belonged to it.
A shallow refuse pit (L114; diam. 0.86 m, depth 0.4 m) was discovered at a lower level between Walls 100 and 101. It contained ashes, a Byzantine roof-tile fragment, small fieldstones and jar fragments that dated to the Early Islamic period.
The ceramic finds that dated the building to the Early Islamic period consisted of imported bowls, including Late Roman C (Fig. 2:3, 4), Cypriot Red Slip Ware (Fig. 2:5, 6), Fine Byzantine Ware (Fig. 2:7–9), as well as buff-ware bowls and jugs (Fig. 2:10–15) and a krater and a jar (Fig. 2:16, 17). In addition, a rim and body fragments of Cypriot milk bowls from the Late Bronze Age, which originated in two tombs from this period that were located in the vicinity (Fig. 2:1, 2; HA-ESI 118
), were found.
Building B. A building was discovered in Square D and in the balk that separated it from Square B. Two of the building’s walls (W112, W132), which were built of fieldstones and partially dressed stones, were exposed. These walls apparently formed a corner in the south that was not preserved. A floor of small fieldstones (L135; 0.1 × 0.1 m), whose remains were also found in the middle of the southern corner of the building, abutted W132 on the north. The ceramic finds included a cooking pot (Fig. 2:18), a bowl (Fig. 2:19), a krater (Fig. 2:20), jars (Fig. 2:21–24) and a buff-ware jug (Fig. 2:25), as well as an Umayyad coin that was struck in the Ashqelon mint and is dated to the eighth century CE (IAA 98100). Based on these artifacts, the building is dated to the Early Islamic period.
Ovens between Buildings A and B
A tabun (L120; diam. 0.51 m, wall thickness 0.2 m), whose southern side was enclosed by a wall (W102; 0.22 × 0.50 × 1.30 m) that was oriented east–west, was discovered in Square B. A row of small fieldstones (L130) enclosed the installation from the north. The tabun was not excavated. A rim fragment of a Cypriote dolium was recovered from the fill between the tabun and W102.
Another tabun (L133; diam. 0.4 m, thickness of clay side 2 cm, height 0.25 m) was discovered in the preliminary trial trench, c. 0.65 m north of Tabun 120 and 0.1–0.2 m below W132. The tabun was not excavated.
Square C. A row of fieldstones (L122; 0.1 × 0.1 × 0.7 m), aligned southeast–northwest, was exposed in the southern side of the square. It was probably part of a wall that was mostly located at the side of the square. A jar base and worn potsherds from the Early Bronze Age, as well as jar fragments, including Gaza jars (Fig. 2:27, 28), were found in the fill (L109) that abutted the row of stones.
The excavation finds add information about the nature and spread of the settlement from the Early Islamic period, southeast of Tel Azor. The exposed buildings and installations of the Early Islamic settlement included an underground vaulted structure, which is characteristic of the period (HA-ESI
110:43*–44*), ovens and part of a bathhouse (HA-ESI 117
[Permit No. A-2970]; HA-ESI 117
[Permit No. A-3196]).