During April 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted within the precincts of the Ibthan antiquities site (North; Permit No. A-5934; map ref. 204842–75/697022–51), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Mamon Zeidan, was directed by D. Masarwa, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), H. Ben-Ari (GPS), A. Peretz (field photography), A. Gorzalczany (consultation) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
The excavation was carried out on leveled ground northeast of Tel Ibthan (Fig. 1), one of the tells in the northern Sharon, near the sites of Tel Jatt, Tel Zeror and Kafr Yama. Finds ascribed to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, including architectural remains, rock-cuttings and a road, had been excavated in the past at the tell (HA-ESI 118; HA-ESI 122; Permit Nos. A-5767, A-5899).
Two squares were opened (A1 in the east, A2 in the west; Fig. 2); the upper layers (depth 0.1 m) were removed by mechanical equipment. Two building walls, an alley and a pavement dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods were exposed.
Square A1. Two walls (W101, W109) and a fill of small and medium fieldstones (L108; 1.6 x 4.0 m; Fig. 3) between them were exposed. Wall 101 (length 6.8, width 0.6 m), built of medium and large fieldstones, was preserved two courses high. Wall 109 (length 3.2 m, width 0.4 m) was built of a row of medium-sized fieldstones. The walls were aligned northwest–southeast. The fieldstone fill is probably the foundation of an alley.
Square A2. A massive wall (W105; length 4 m, width 0.5 m), built of medium and large fieldstones and preserved two courses high, was exposed. Oriented northeast-southwest, it was perpendicular to Wall 101 (Fig. 4). The two walls continued beyond the limits of the excavation and it was impossible to determine the size of the structure that they enclosed. A small pavement section (L106) that consisted of small and medium fieldstones was exposed west of W105. The pavement did not adjoin any wall and its purpose is unknown.
The ceramic finds recovered from the building and the fill of the alley dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods and included bowls (Fig. 5:1–3) and jars (Fig. 5:4–9).
Based on the ceramic finds, the building and alley in the excavation were constructed in the Roman period and continued to be used in the Byzantine period. Large fieldstones, apparently taken from the tell, were utilized in the construction of the rather wide walls of the large building. The finds indicate that the city extended along the leveled ground northeast of the tell during the Roman and Byzantine periods.