During August–September 2006, a trial excavation was conducted at ed-Damun, west of Kavul (Permit No. A-4887; map ref. 217525–30/753635–40), prior to widening the approach road to Kavul. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Transportation, was directed by E. Stern, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS), H. Smithline (field photography), D. Syon (metal detection), E. Belashov (drafting), N. Getzov (ceramics), H. Tahan (find drawing), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
The site is located on a low hill north of the approach road to Kavul in the Western Galilee. The village of ed-Damun existed at the site in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries CE and its remains are discerned on the surface. Potsherds that dated to the Late Bronze Age and the Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Early Islamic, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods were documented at the site during a survey that was conducted in 1966 (A. Ronen, IAA Survey Archive). It was also noted that when the approach road to Kavul had been paved, the fringes of the site were damaged and remains of ancient walls were visible in a trench that was cut at the time.
Two excavation areas (A, B) were opened c. 50 m apart along the approach road to Kavul. A quarry from the Roman period and building remains from the Byzantine period were exposed (Fig. 1).
Area A (3.5 × 5.0 m). Remains of a stone quarry (L302) were discovered in the eastern part of the area. The soil fills in the quarry yielded potsherds from the Early Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Most of the fragments retrieved from the bottom of the fill dated to the Early Roman period and it therefore seems that the quarry should also be dated to this period. A wall (W3001), built of fieldstones and dressed stones, was exposed at a higher level and west of the quarry. Most of the wall, preserved three courses high, was built above surface without foundations. The wall continued northward and was probably a farming terrace wall or a wall that delimited cultivation plots in the village of the nineteenth–twentieth centuries CE.
Area B (3 × 14 m). The area was opened at a spot where a wall (W2001) had previously been discerned in the section of the road. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine, Mamluk and Ottoman periods were discovered in the top soil layer on surface (L201). Upon cleaning the surface top soil, an open area paved with limestone slabs (L202; Fig. 2) was discovered. The pavement extended between W2001 in the north and another wall in the south (W2003). An entrance threshold, which led to a room (L204) that was located beneath the road to the south of the excavation area, was discovered in W2003. Parts of the stone-paved area (L202) were dismantled and another floor (L209) that consisted of chalk bedding and small firmly-tamped stones was discovered below it. Fragments of pottery vessels that dated to the Byzantine period (fourth–sixth centuries CE) were collected from Floor 209 and its bedding. A small section of Floor 209 was dismantled and bedrock (L203) was revealed beneath it. The soil fill above bedrock contained potsherds from the Roman period. Floor 209 abutted two walls, one on the eastern side (W2002; Fig. 3) and the other to the west (W2004). The two walls, founded directly on bedrock and preserved two–three courses high, were built of ashlar stones. An entrance threshold that opened into a room (L205) was discovered in W2004. Another threshold, which was incorporated in W2002, had apparently led to another room north of the excavation area. Two phases that dated to the Byzantine period were discerned in the building. The early phase included a central area that was paved with firmly tamped chalk and flanked by rooms on the north, south and west. The threshold to the southern room (204) was raised in the later phase and the central area was paved with flagstones and enlarged, since the northern and western rooms were negated.
Some of the ceramic finds in the excavation dated to the Roman period, including Kefar Hananya-type bowls (Fig. 4:1); most finds dated to the Byzantine period and included imported bowls from Phocaea (Fig. 4:2–4), Cyprus (Fig. 4:5–7) and Egypt (Fig. 4:8), a cooking krater (Fig. 4:9) and barrel-shaped jars with a high neck (Fig. 4:10–12). The ceramic finds from the surface ranged in date from the Mamluk period to the modern era. Other artifacts recovered from the excavation included two coins from the fourth–fifth centuries CE (IAA Nos. 112109, 112110), several fragments of glass vessels from the Byzantine period (fifth–seventh centuries CE) and numerous pieces of ceramic roof tiles.
The remains of a building from the Byzantine period, which was founded directly on bedrock, were exposed in the excavation. The meticulous construction and the large and well-dressed building stones indicate that this was a large building that had a tile roof. Apart from the quarry remains that were dated to the Roman period, no evidence of habitation prior to the Byzantine period was discovered. Potsherds from the Late Bronze Age and the Persian and Early Roman periods were gathered during the survey at the site and it is possible that the settlement from these periods was confined to the hill north of the excavation area and only in the Byzantine period did the settlement expand to the south.