A single square was opened in the excavation area, c. 50 m north of the mosque (Fig. 2), revealing pottery sherds from the Early Bronze Age I (Stratum IV) below remains of a wall and a plaster floor from the Umayyad period (Stratum III) that were incorporated in a building from the Mamluk period (Stratum II), of which two parallel walls survived. In a later period, a courtyard floor was added to the building (Stratum I). Two refuse pits dating to the nineteenth century CE were also identified.
Stratum IV. A small probe (L119) conducted in a soil accumulation below the floors of Stratum III exposed several pottery sherds dating to the Early Bronze Age I. The sherds, consisting of bowls (Fig. 3:1, 2), a holemouth jar (Fig. 3:3) and a jar (Fig. 3:4), were not found in an architectural context.
Stratum III. Remains of a building were exposed, including a wall (W110) constructed of roughly hewn stones arranged headers-and-stretchers with small stones in between that survived to a height of c. 1 m. The southern face of the wall was partially treated with hydraulic plaster and the northern face was lined with small stones. A small section of a plaster floor abutted the wall (L122; thickness 2–4 cm), visible to the north. Another section of the floor (L123), not plastered, comprising only a bedding of flat stones, was discovered to the east. An accumulation of soil and fragments of pottery vessels dating from the Late Byzantine to the Umayyad periods was found on top of the floor. The sherds included imported mold-made bowls from Africa (LRW; Fig. 3:5–7), a small bowl with red decoration (Fig. 3:8), a cooking pot with a grooved rim (Fig. 3:9), a lamp adorned with a cross on its bottom (Fig. 3:10) and store jars (Fig. 3:11–13).
Stratum II. Part of another building (W103, W114) was exposed. Wall 114 (preserved height 0.7–1.2 m) was dry-built, and its foundations rested on the Umayyad plaster floor. Two later refuse pits (L115, L116) damaged the center of the wall. Another wall (W108), which seems to have delineated the building and was preserved to a height of just one course and its foundation, was set on the eastern part of W110. The northern part of W108 was also severed by Refuse Pit 115. An ancient stone capital (Fig. 5) was incorporated in the wall. It may have been taken from close by ​​the synagogue, dating to the Byzantine period, located north of the area. The pottery fragments in the accumulated layers in the area date this stratum to the Mamluk period; they include green-glazed bowls (Fig. 3:14, 15), a glazed casserole imported from Beirut (Fig. 3:16), a handmade krater (Fig. 3:17), a juglet (Fig. 3:18) and a buff-ware jar (Fig. 3:19).
Stratum I. Apparently, use of the building from Stratum II changed, and a pavement (L113) of round basalt stones was added, west of W103 (Fig. 6). The upper western part of W110 was destroyed and it too was incorporated in the floor, which was 0.4 m higher than the wall foundation (see Fig. 2: Section 1-1). Remains of another wall (W112) that abutted W103 from the west and formed a corner were visible on top of the floor. The wall was poorly preserved and barely a single course could be discerned. An ash accumulation (thickness c. 5 cm) from a hearth was found on the floor in the southeastern corner. The ceramic finds inside it indicate a date not prior to the Mamluk period, and it therefore seems that these additions were also constructed in a later phase of the Mamluk period.
According to the property owner, when the village was established in the nineteenth century CE, a two-story stone house with an animal pen on the first floor and a dwelling on the second was constructed in the area of the excavation. Cesspits 115 and 116 were excavated near the house, and refuse was discarded into them after the structure was destroyed. Parts of a harvest cart, farm tools of iron, shoes, horseshoes etc. were found. The pits, which were in the center of the excavation area, penetrated all the archaeological strata. A wealth of ceramic artifacts ranging in date from the Umayyad period to the modern era were discovered in the pits, including a red-decorated bowl from a Rashaya el-Fukhar pottery workshop (Fig. 3:20), green-glazed bowls (Fig. 3:21), a Gaza Ware jar (Fig. 3:22) and several fragments of St. Helens roof tiles (Fig. 3:23–25).
Glass Finds
Brigitte Ouahnouna
Three noteworthy glass items were discovered in the excavation: a medicine bottle and two pieces of jewelry.
The medicine bottle (L101, B1023; not drawn) is small, cylindrical and made of colorless glass. The base of the bottle is embossed with the inscription ‘RAFA’. Rafa is a pharmaceutical company founded in 1937 by Dr. Baruch Shmuel Levin. The bottle discovered in the excavation is likely one of the earliest pharmaceutical bottles manufactured by the company. Medicine bottles are probably the largest and most diverse group of glass bottles produced from the nineteenth until the mid-twentieth centuries CE. These bottles include a wide variety of shapes and sizes and have been studied in the past (see, for example, Fike 1987).
One piece of jewelry (L107, B1016; Fig. 7:1) is a large, circular bead (a ring?) made of blue colored glass. It was probably produced in Hebron, which was the largest center for the manufacture of glass in the Levant during the Ottoman period (Spaer 2001:146–147). A similar bead in the Israel Museum collection dates to the first half of the twentieth century (Spaer 2001:147, Pl. 22:271).
The second piece of jewelry (L107, B1030; Fig. 7:2) is a bracelet fragment made of very dark, almost opaque glass, bearing a decoration with opaque red glass bearing yellow and green stripes. This item may also have been produced in Hebron. A similar bracelet is in the Israel Museum collection (Spaer 2001:204, Pl. 36:477).
Many travelers and pilgrims who visited the Holy Land during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries CE were not satisfied with just referring in general to the very long tradition of glassmaking in Hebron, but specifically noted the Hebron bracelets with their vivid colors, their large quantity and broad distribution (Spaer 2001:196–198).
Remains of a building constructed in the Umayyad period were discovered, atop of which were remains of a building from the Mamluk period, paved with stone at the end of that period. Structures from these periods are known in the area from previous excavations in the village. The pottery sherds indicate occupation in EB I (a new discovery made during this excavation), the Umayyad period (and several fragments from the Roman and Byzantine periods) and a settlement hiatus until the Mamluk period, at the end of which the settlement was abandoned until Kafr Misr was founded in the nineteenth century CE.