Dwelling Cave 31 (map ref. 227073/736029; Figs. 3, 4). A large amorphous-shaped cave was hewn out of the soft chalky rock layer, its roof made of the overlying hard limestone surface layer. Access into the cave was via a large open entrance cut into the slightly sloping rock surface on the west. The cave walls were eroded, retaining no hewing marks. The central area of the cave (c. 4.5 × 4.9 m, height 2.5 m) was excavated by removing the accumulated soil, stones and some modern waste. A burnt ashy layer, exhibiting a few Byzantine-period sherds, lay directly over the bedrock floor (L314; thickness c. 0.1 m). Additional Byzantine-period sherds were found just outside the cave entrance (L311). These included an open cooking pot of the ‘frying pan’ type with horizontal handles and a couple of storage jar rims (not illustrated). It was discerned that the cave extended deeper on all sides, but the excavation was discontinued due to safety considerations.
Structure 32 (map ref. 227056/735959; Figs. 5, 6). A square room (L321; 5.5 × 6.0 m) was built on the southern slope of the spur, facing the ‘En Zammeret spring. An elongated rock step on the north, forming the back wall of the room, was abutted by two constructed, parallel stone walls; on the south, the third and front wall, with a central entrance, closed-in the room. The walls, extant for only two courses, were carefully built of large- and medium-sized stones. It is possible that these were low walls from the outset, or that the upper courses were built of perishable materials, which have long since disintegrated. The sloping bedrock floor was overlain by a small concentration of irregular stonesin the northeastern and upper corner of the room and by some packed earth in its southwestern and lower part. This walled area may have been used as a storage facility or as a pen for animals. No pottery dated the use of this building.
Structure 42 (map ref. 226831/736093; Figs. 7, 8). A small room (L422; 2.5 × 3.5 m) with three low walls was built on a thin layer of earth overlying the uneven sloping bedrock. A small winepress with a treading floor and an elliptic collecting vat (L427) was hewn out of the bedrock alongside the room, to its north. The room and the press may have been part of an agricultural processing area.
Square rock-hewn element 33 (map ref. 227017/735973; Fig. 9). On the southern slope, about 30 m west of Building 32, a shallow square area (1.5 × 1.9 m)—possibly part of an agricultural processing installation—was hewn out of the hard limestone rock. It was found full of stones, amongst which were a few Roman-period sherds (not illustrated).
Elongated rock-hewn element 34 (map ref. 226987/736009; Fig. 10) comprises two parallel rows (length 7 m) of large rocks that seem to line a narrow, east–west path. A very narrow channel runs along the northern row of stones. It is plausible, however, that this is a natural geological feature.
Limekiln 25 (map ref. 227162/736013; Figs. 11, 12). A single large limekiln was uncovered near the spur top, on a slight, north–south slope. Prior to the excavation, the limekiln was visible above the ground surface as a large, circular, low pile of stones (diam. 12 m, max. height at center 1.8 m). A trench (width c. 1 m) was cut through the kiln, from its western edge to the entrance in the east to expose its constructional components. While it would seem that the bedrock surface within the circular area selected for the kiln was slightly hewn out from the outset to form a shallow concave basin, it is possible that the slight dip may have been also a natural formation. A circular stone wall (W254; width 0.8 m, max. extant height c. 2 m) was subsequently built, enclosing the area of the kiln (interior diam. 4 m), and the bedrock surface within the kiln area was deepened by rock-hewing. The excavation here reached 0.5 m below the surrounding bedrock surface, down to a hard-packed layer of conglomerated melted limestone but not to the solid bedrock floor itself. The interior face of W254 was carefully constructed of medium- and small-sized stones (Fig. 13). The exterior face of the wall was less carefully constructed, as it was not free-standing, and in the course of its construction the area surrounding it was backfilled with a stone and earth fill (L255); several large stones seem to have been incorporated into the fill’s perimeter to consolidate it.
The kiln’s entrance (L253; width 0.6 m, widening to 1.4 m at the exterior perimeter of the kiln; Fig. 14) was set in W254, on the east, and comprised a large stone threshold slab, A corridor led from the outer perimeter of the kiln to the entrance, its northern wall lined with several courses of small stones set against the fill, whilst its southern face had partially collapsed. The entrance may have been widened after the kiln was put out of use. No additional opening was observed in the kiln walls, although a western-facing opening would have been necessary to provide the air movement required for the lime-burning process (Sasson 2002: Fig. 1). The roof of the limekiln was not preserved, but its form was probably similar to the stone-built domed roof in the reconstruction drawing of the Mamluk-period limekiln at Ramat Ha-Nadiv (Hirschfeld 2000:84–85, Fig. 176). It is probable that the roof stones of the kiln collapsed during the lime-production process, since the interior of the kiln was found entirely full of burnt blocks and fragments of soft limestone, lime waste and ashes, and the hard-packed bottom layers of stones were reddish and badly cracked from the intensive heat.
Only three pottery sherds (not illustrated) were found in the kiln complex: a small Roman-period ribbed body sherd, within the entrance (L253), and two small Crusader-period glazed bowl and cooking-pot body sherds in the stone fill around the kiln (L255); these are insufficient for dating the kiln. The limekiln cannot be dated on the basis of its structural features as well, since limekilns did not change significantly in antiquity, and similar kilns functioned down to the end of the Ottoman period and even later, and even during the time of the British Mandate (Sion and Sasson 2003:201).
Stone Quarry 73–75 (map refs. 227113/735986, 227142/735986, 227104/735999; Figs. 15–18). Stone quarrying areas that were not observed in the initial survey due to the overlying vegetation were discovered during the excavation. Three long stone-quarried trenches lay close to each other near the top of the spur, exploiting the hard limestone layer that covers the upper part of the hill. Most trenches were fairly shallow (depth 0.3–0.4 m); some parts were deeper (depth 0.6–1.1 m), reaching down to the top of the softer chalk layer.
The trenches exhibited several severance channels and rather worn negatives of the detached stone blocks. Whereas some of the negative cutting marks had right angles, many exhibited irregular angles. These quarries may have supplied stone blocks for the construction of large buildings, possibly in nearby Nazareth. Alternatively, or in addition, the quarried limestone blocks, and certainly the waste thereof, may have provided the raw material for the limekiln. Only a few small body sherds, all of the Roman period, were found in the quarry channels (not illustrated).
Stone Piles 21, 39, 45, 46 (map refs. 227352/739956, 226877/736114, 226751/736146, 226742/736118). In the initial survey, 54 low limestone piles or heaps which included many flint nodules. Probes dug down to the uneven bedrock through Stone Piles 21, 39, 45 and 46 (each 40–50 sq m area, height 0.4–1.0 m) yieldd flint fragments. Fine and homogeneous flint is common in this area, and the fragments consisted predominantly of natural flint nodules and chunks, with only small quantities of debitage and debris of worked flint. Most of the other stone piles recorded in the survey were resurveyed, and some flint was collected. It was concluded that these piles were predominantly stone-clearance heaps rather than flint-knapping piles, although flint-knapping was carried out in this area. Following the initial sorting of the flint collected from all the areas, a total of 183 flint items were retained for additional examination (see Appendix).
The excavation exposed a variety of types of built and hewn constructions and installations, which, together with the scarcity of datable artifacts, reflect a very limited exploitation of this spur over time.
Limekiln 25 provided too few sherds for dating, but a few contextual factors can be invoked for a tentative dating. The well-preserved state of the kiln exposed on the ground surface suggests that it functioned in fairly recent periods, possibly in the Mamluk or Ottoman periods. Lime production in kilns required two basic raw materials, limestone and fuel. The stones for the kiln were no doubt collected from the surface, and additional raw material was probably supplied by the adjacent quarries. Large quantities of fuel were required, specifically wooden branches from trees and bushes, and it is probable that the production of lime was the chief cause for the present treeless state of the spur. No other limekilns were found along the spur in the survey; however, several kilns appear on British-Mandate maps on the eastern side of Nazareth. Finally, the location of the limekiln, about two kilometers northwest of Nazareth, suggests that the lime may have been manufactured for use in Nazareth. In the course of the nineteenth century, Nazareth expanded from a small village into a large town and its spring (Mary’s Well) could no longer supply the water requirements of the inhabitants (Alexandre 2012:3). Consequently, many large, plastered rock-hewn cisterns for rainwater storage were constructed under new houses and institutions in the town, and lime was the basic requisite for the plaster that lined them. Deeper and more regularly-cut limestone quarries, similar to Stone Quarry 73–75, were uncovered in an excavation carried out on a hill in western Nazareth, about 1.5 km south of the present quarries. They are dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods, and were used again in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods (Atrash 2009). These factors may provide contextual evidence supporting a Late Ottoman date for the kiln, and for the adjacent quarries.