The remains in the western square relating to this stratum included two perpendicular walls built on the bedrock that was leveled in this spot (Fig. 1). One of the walls was built in the Phoenician tradition with equidistant pillars (Fig. 2). The other wall abutted it and was built of regular construction. Only potsherds that dated to the first century BCE–first century CE (most of the finds) and the second century CE (scant) were collected in both of the spaces that related to these walls. A Hellenistic lead weight and several coins, some of which are Hellenistic, were found. Fragments of two limestone cups and three nozzles of Herodian lamps were also found; these artifacts are characteristic of the Jewish settlement in the Late Second Temple period and slightly thereafter.
A ritual bath (miqwe) was discovered in the eastern square. Partially hewn in the bedrock; it was very well preserved, apart from its edge. The bath was entirely plastered and three steps of different heights led to it (Fig. 3). The run of the middle step was especially large, thereby making it possible for the bather to stand comfortably. The bath was in a built room and two of its walls survived. A well-built opening in the southern wall had a raised threshold that was probably meant to prevent the water from spilling out of it (Fig. 4). A complete Phoenician-type jar that is dated to the first century CE was found at the bottom of the bath. A rock-hewn bell-shaped cistern, entirely plastered and equipped with two openings, was exposed east of the bath. The cistern was not excavated; however, its proximity to the bath and the quality of its plaster may raise the assumption that it was contemporaneous with the bath and could have served as its source of water. The cistern was finally blocked only about twenty years ago, as attested to by the villagers and by several modern artifacts that were found inside it.
Several buildings, which are characterized by thick outer walls and thin partition walls that are one stone wide, are ascribed to this stratum. Remains of a stone pavement (Fig. 5) were identified in a structure built above the ritual bath; this building utilized two of the walls of the earlier room. Based on several Mamluk potsherds that were found in the upper levels of the ritual bath, it seems that it was finally blocked in this period.
Two distinct stratigraphic phases of the Mamluk period were discerned in the western square. Several stone-paved rooms were attributed to the early phase (Fig. 6). The stone floors were placed on a layer of soil that contained numerous potsherds dating to the first century CE (Stratum II), which had probably been brought over from nearby. Two meager fieldstone walls, one stone wide (Fig. 7), as well as two more massive walls, were attributed to the late phase (see Fig. 6, left). The floor in this phase was not a stone pavement; meager remains of a crumbling plaster floor were discovered.
The dating of the stratum is based on the ceramic finds, which were recovered from the floors of the rooms and could partially be restored. The pottery vessels of both phases were identical.
The beginning of the settlement at the site was probably in the Persian period. Based on the ceramic finds, it can be determined that the buildings of Stratum II were constructed in the first century BCE, probably during the Hasmonean dynasty, and were abandoned in the second century CE. The settlement was renewed in the Mamluk period, and possibly already in the Crusader period, as evidenced by a single potsherd that dated to the twelfth century CE. Remains of earlier walls, which still protruded from the surface, were utilized in this period. A single fragment of a Turkish clay pipe dating to the eighteenth century CE was found; however, it is insufficient evidence to indicate the existence of a settlement at this time, at least not in the excavated area.
The discovery of the site allows us to add a new site to the distribution of Jewish settlements in the Lower Galilee, a relatively short distance (c. 4 km) from Usha and Shefar‘am of the Mishnaic era. Based on a preliminary identification of the pottery vessels, the settlement had economic ties both with the Jewish centers to its east and with the Phoenician coast (‘Akko?). The Mamluk settlement constitutes an interesting contribution to our knowledge of settlement distribution in this period, because different types of pottery vessels, which are usually not present together at the same site, were found here.