During July 2010, a trial excavation was conducted in a private lot in the eastern neighborhood of Sandala village (Permit No. A-5961; map ref. 230816–43/714370–405), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Mokary (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), R. Mishayev and M. Kahal (surveying and drafting), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing) and laborers from ‘Ara village.
The Sandala village extends across a limestone hill at the western end of the Gilbo‘a ridge. The village has no local source of water and therefore, cisterns were hewn around it in for the purpose of collecting rainwater. Two excavation areas (A, B; 2.5 ´ 5.0 m; Fig. 1) were opened on either side of a warehouse and architectural remains and cisterns that dated to the seventh–eighth centuries CE were exposed.
Three excavations were formerly conducted at the site, revealing a layer of fill from the Early Islamic and Mamluk periods (HA-ESI 120), remains of ashlar walls, two cisterns and potsherds from the Byzantine period (Permit No. A-4220; Uri Ben-Ziyyoni, per. comm.), and remains of a large building from the Byzantine period (church?) overlain with meager building remains from the Ottoman period (HA-ESI 121).
Area A. Part of a wall (W15; exposed length c. 1 m, width 0.5 m), built of roughly hewn stones and founded on limestone bedrock, was exposed. A rock-hewn cistern (L20; depth c. 3 m) with a round opening, elongated shaft and square base was discovered just west of the wall. The soil fill inside the cistern contained pottery vessels that dated to the seventh–eighth centuries CE, including a rim of a cooking krater (Fig. 2:6), a baggy-shaped jar (Fig. 2:10), jugs and numerous body fragments of black clay jugs and baggy-shaped jars decorated with white stripes. Many body fragments of black clay, baggy shaped jars decorated with white stripes, and a rim of a cooking pot (Fig. 2:8) that also dated to the seventh–eighth centuries CE were discovered in the vicinity of the cistern.
Area B. Remains of walls (W12, W13, W18) that delineated a building, built of ashlars and founded on the bedrock, were exposed. A layer of soil mixed with gravel abutted the walls. A krater rim of black clay (Fig. 2:4) and body fragments of jars, cooking pots and bowls dating to the seventh–eighth centuries CE were discovered atop this layer. A cistern (L17; max. diam. 3 m, depth c. 4 m) with a rectangular opening (0.7 × 1.2 m) and an irregular shaped interior was hewn inside the building. The sides of the cistern were severely weathered. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to the seventh–eighth centuries CE were discovered on the bottom of the cistern, including a krater of reddish yellow clay (Fig. 2:1), krater rims of black clay (Fig. 2:2, 3), a cooking krater (Fig. 2:5), a cooking pot (Fig. 2:7), a cup decorated with wavy incising (Fig. 2:9), black clay baggy-shaped jars decorated with white stripes (Fig. 2:11–13), jugs (Fig. 2:14–16) and a jug of yellow clay (Fig. 2:17).