During April 2007, a trial excavation was conducted at Qibbuz Lohamē Ha-Geta’ot (Permit No. A-5097; map ref. NIG 20982–4/76331–4; OIG 15982–4/26331–4), in the wake of exposing aqueduct remains during an antiquities inspection, prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by L. Porat, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS), H. Smithline (field photography), D. Syon (metal detection), H. Tahan (pottery drawing) and R. Frankel, E. Stern and Y. Lerer (consultation).
The excavation was conducted in the eastern part of the qibbuz, in a flat area of heavy brown soil where orchards had been planted in the past. Two squares (5 × 6 m, 5 × 7 m; excavated depth 1.7 m) were opened, 35 m apart. Parts of a northeast-southwest oriented aqueduct, which probably dates to the Hellenistic period, were discovered. Changes to the aqueduct were made in the Roman period.
Three aqueducts had previously been documented in the region (Fig. 1). The first was built by Suleyman Pasha in 1815. It began in the region of Kabri, near the ‘En Shayyara, ‘En Zuf, ‘En Giah and ‘En Shefa‘ springs and continued toward ‘Akko (length c. 13 km). Most of this aqueduct is above ground. The second, erected by Jazar Pasha in the eighteenth century CE, was mostly built of pipes. This aqueduct was destroyed by Napoleon’s army in 1799. The third aqueduct is located between the first two and it was built in the Hellenistic period. To date, three underground sections of this aqueduct are known and a fourth section has been exposed in the current excavation. The first section is a built vaulted tunnel that was discovered in 1972 when foundations for a bomb shelter had been dug in Qibbuz Lohamē Ha-Geta’ot; it was not excavated. The second section is a tunnel that was discovered c. 200 m southwest of the first section, when the foundations for another bomb shelter had been dug in the qibbuz in 1977. The tunnel, documented by R. Frankel, was built of ashlar stones to a height of 1.6 m and was covered with a vault. The third section (length 120 m) was hewn within the precincts of Qibbuz Lohamē Ha-Geta’ot’s quarry, near Nes ‘Amim; it was excavated by R. Frankel in 1976–1977 (‘Atiqot XVII, 1985:134–138). This section is c. 2.9 km northeast of the tunnels discovered in the qibbuz. The current excavation is located between the hewn aqueduct and the tunnels.
Two construction phases were discerned in the aqueduct. The foundation was built in the early phase (width 1.1–1.2 m, height 0.5–0.6 m) of large kurkar ashlar stones (average dimensions 0.24 × 0.50 × 0.60 m). Whereas the eastern side of the foundation consisted of ‘headers and stretchers’, its western side was only built of ‘headers’ with fill of sand and medium and large stones in-between (Fig. 2). A layer of sand deposited above the large stones in the middle of the foundation was overlain with the floor of the channel (width 0.4 m; Fig. 3), which consisted of hydraulic plaster (2–3 cm) that contained small potsherds, charcoal and small round wadi pebbles. The walls of the channel were not preserved. The width of the foundation and the manner of its construction resemble the tunnels that were discovered in Qibbuz Lohamē Ha-Geta’ot.
All the sides of the foundation were reinforced in the late phase with small and medium stones (width 0.5 m, height 0.3–0.5 m; Figs. 4, 5), as well as debesh, potsherds, ash and pieces of charcoal in-between. Accordingly, the width of the foundation had increased to c. 2.0–2.2 m. The reason for these changes to the aqueduct is unclear.
A few of the potsherds that were recovered from the foundation stones dated to the Hellenistic period and included a bowl (Fig. 6:1) and a frying pan (?; Fig. 6:2). Most of the ceramics dated to the Early Roman period and included Kefar Hananya-type bowls (Fig. 6:3), kraters (Fig. 6:4), ‘Sikhin’-type jars(Fig. 6:5) and lamps (Fig. 6:6).
‘Akko was a large commercial city during the Hellenistic period. The vast amount of water that the city consumed resulted in the construction of an aqueduct that may have conveyed water from the springs located near Kabri. It is unclear whether the continuation of the aqueduct southward, in the direction of ‘Akko, passed beneath the aqueduct of the Ottoman period. A survey conducted by R. Frankel in the area yielded no evidence with regard to the aqueducts of the Ottoman period, being constructed on top of the foundations of an ancient aqueduct.