During July 2001, a trial excavation was conducted in Bet Nehemya (Permit No. A-3468; map ref. NIG 19614–5/653571–601; OIG 14614–5/153571–601), in the wake of damage to antiquities caused by development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Nagorsky, with the assistance of R. Abu Halaf (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), E. Belashov (drafting), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), I. Lidski (pottery drawing) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Two adjacent squares were opened next to fifteen other squares, which had previously been excavated at the site (License No. G-59/1998), but did not produce a coherent architectural plan.
Square A (2.5 × 3.5 m; Fig. 1). A section of a hypocaust floor (L12; Fig. 2), which belonged to a bathhouse from the Byzantine period, was exposed. A floor of square clay bricks (0.2 × 0.2 m) that were placed atop bedrock was preserved in the southern half of the square; a gray plaster floor (thickness 3–4 cm) that covered the bricks was found in the northern half, which had been repaired. The cement bases of the hypocaust columns (0.2 × 0.3 m), affixed to the floor with plaster and arranged in three rows, were uncovered. Three of the bases in the eastern row survived, two remained in the center and one was preserved in the western row. The floor continued beyond the limits of the square into the previous excavation area, where the excavator (Y. Haggai) claimed a kiln was found; however, it seems that this was the furnace used to heat the hypocaust.
The layer of collapse that covered the hypocaust contained fragments of ceramic pipes and potsherds that dated to the Byzantine period, including a bowl (Fig. 3:1), a krater (Fig. 3:2), a cooking pot (Fig. 3:3), holemouth jars (Fig. 3:4–6), a jar (Fig. 3:7) and jugs (Fig. 3:8, 9).
Square B (2.5 × 4.5 m). A white mosaic pavement that consisted of large tesserae (2 × 3 cm) was exposed in the western side of the square. It was founded on bedrock and abutted a wall foundation (W14), oriented east–west. The overlying soil fill contained potsherds that dated to the Byzantine period. Two coins were found on the floor: a half-follis from the time of Justin, struck in the mint of Thessaloniki (569/70; IAA 97614) and an Abbasid follis from the ninth century CE (IAA 97615) that may have originated from a disturbance, caused by a ditch dug nearby.
The excavation finds, the hypocaust and mosaic floor attest to the existence of a bathhouse that dated to the Byzantine period.