Area A (Fig. 2)
A north–south oriented probe (2.2 × 20 m) was excavated next to the edge of the sidewalk on Levi Eshkol Street, at the corner of Ilanot Street. Five strata, dating from the Early Islamic period until the Crusader period, were exposed.
Stratum I. Surface was removed by a backhoe. Beneath the modern kurkar bedding was dark brown soil mixed with small stones.
Stratum II (twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE). Three large, roughly dressed rectangular ashlar stones (average size 0.35 × 0.50 m) were found. A floor segment composed of a thin layer of well tamped light gray plaster with white inclusions was exposed c. 0.9 m below surface, extending along the probe’s eastern side. Two iron nails (Fig. 3:1, 2) were found in this layer.
Stratum III (eleventh century CE). Part of a building, consisting of two parallel walls (W3, W4) oriented east–west and a third wall (W5) aligned north–south and perpendicular to W4 but not abutting it, was exposed. The three walls, preserved one–two courses high, were built of coarsely dressed medium-sized ashlars. Very poor sections of two floors, composed of very light gray plaster with black inclusions, were preserved between the walls. Floor L109b abutted W3 from the north and Floor L109a abutted W4 and W5 from the east. A red clay sewage pipe (diam. c. 10 cm, thickness c. 1 cm) that was positioned vertically and stood 0.65 m high was discovered on the southern side of W5. Surrounding the pipe was a layer of white plaster with black grain inclusions (thickness c. 9 cm). A sounding excavated to a depth of c. 2 m north of W4, near the eastern section of the probe did not reach virgin soil.
The architectural remains seem to belong to a large residential building, as inferred from the numerous potsherds and glass fragments. The ceramic finds dated to the Crusader period (eleventh–twelfth centuries CE) and included a red-slipped krater whose fabric contained small black inclusions (Fig. 4:1); a cooking pot rim fragment decorated with black glaze on the exterior (Fig. 4:2), a neck fragment of a white clay flask (Fig. 4:3) and a pomegranate-like vessel of red clay and decorated with painted light brown stripes (Fig. 4:4).
Stratum IV (ninth–tenth centuries CE). Two parallel walls, oriented east–west and built of coarsely dressed ashlar stones (W1, W2; average width c. 0.6 m), were exposed. There was no architectural connection between them and Stratum III building remains. The northern wall (W1) was preserved a single course high and the southern wall (W2) stood two courses high. A flagstone-paved floor (L103) abutted the walls; the stones were irregular with spaces between them (c. 1 cm wide). This may have been the courtyard of a residential building.
The ceramic finds from this stratum dated to the ninth century CE and included a variety of glazed bowls: a thin bowl with an everted rim and a light yellow glaze applied to a white-washed slip on the interior and exterior (Fig. 4:5); a bowl of pink clay, white slipped with green glaze on the interior and green glazed runs from the rim outside (Fig. 4:6); a large bowl of pink clay decorated with exterior white slip and green, cream and brown glaze on the interior (Fig. 4:7) and an inverted disc base (Fig. 4:8).
Stratum V (seventh–eighth centuries CE). A floor, paved with small stones set in well tamped earth, was exposed (L105). A circular tabun (oven; L110; diam. c. 0.6 m, wall thickness 2 cm) whose upper part was damaged by Stratum IV was built on the western side of the floor. The tabun, which was similar to other ovens that had previously been discovered at the site (HA 65–66:20–21), contained fragments of glass vessels dating to the Roman and Late Byzantine periods, as well as a glass weight that dated to the Umayyad period (see below). Another similar weight was discovered in the excavations of E. Ayalon (‘Atiqot 34:113, Fig. 9:10).
The ceramic finds from this stratum were dated to the Early Islamic period (seventh–ninth centuries CE). The white fabric vessels included a bowl with a straight rim (Fig. 4:9) and a bowl with a slightly inverted rim (Fig. 4:10); a jug of buff ware (Fig. 4:11) and kraters, some of orange clay, decorated with combing (Fig. 4:12) and others of dark red clay (Fig. 4:13). The non-ceramic finds consisted of two iron nails (Fig. 3:3, 4) and small lumps of bronze that were probably used to affix wooden handles to metal vessels.
The ceramic finds from Area A, dating from the seventh through the thirteenth centuries CE, were similar to assemblages that were discovered in the excavations of E. Ayalon (‘Atiqot 34) and Y. Lerer (HA-ESI 113:43*–44*). This area also yielded fragments of glass vessels, mainly rims and bases of bowls and bottles, dating from the Late Roman until the Early Islamic periods and a small quantity of raw glass, attesting to a glass industry that existed in the region at the time of Stratum III. The limestone base of a column (0.6 × 0.6 m; Fig. 5) with a square bottom and a circular top was found in Stratum III.
Glass Weight (Figs. 6, 7)
IAA No: 2002-1394
Locus 110, Basket 1014
Diameter: 2.3 cm
Weight: 3.89 grams
Description: The weight is made of light green glass and has a deep-set three-line Arabic inscription enclosed within a frame. The glass is covered with silverish weathering.
Translation of the inscription: In the name of God
The denomination of the weight was probably intended to be one dinar, yet the weathering caused its partial flaking that detracted from its initial mass. The text of the inscription is familiar in measuring and weighing contexts, but it usually appears alongside the denomination of the weight and the name of the caliph or the clerk responsible for the treasury and the collection of funds. Based on the script, the weight can be dated to the Umayyad period (Cf. A.H. Morton A Catalogue of Early Islamic Glass Stamps in the British Museum. London 1985. Pp. 11–12, Nos. 526–530).
The combination ‘alufa’a le’allah’, which is interpreted to mean ‘the honesty to god’, was intended to associate the commitment to maintaining the accuracy of the weights’ measurement with loyalty to and belief in god, and to instruct that god is a witness to those using an accurate weight. This religious text first appeared on a group of Umayyad coins that was struck in Damascus in c. 680 CE. The central government used the text as an instrument for enforcing a system of weights and measures to be used in commerce undertaken in the markets. It reminded the users of the Koranic text regarding this matter: “…so give full measure and just weight, and defraud not the people of their things, and cause not corruption in the land after it has been set right; that is better for you if ye are believers” (Qur’ān, Surah 7, Verse 83), or “Woe to the scrimpers, Who, when they measure for themselves against the people, fill full, But when they measure or weigh to them, scant!” (Qur’ān, Surah 83, Verses 1–3; the translations are from R. Bell, Edinburgh 1937).
Area B (Fig. 8)
A half square, aligned north–south (2.2 × 4.0 m), was excavated along the sidewalk on Levi Eshkol Street. Following the removal of an upper brown-soil layer that contained modern disturbances, a section of a wall (W1; width c. 0.5 m) built of medium-sized fieldstones and preserved a single course high, was uncovered at a depth of 1 m. The wall, which continued south beyond the limits of the excavation area, was exposed for a length of c. 1 m. A floor section paved with medium-sized fieldstones (L300) was c. 0.5 m east of W1. A few pottery fragments dating to the later part of the Roman period and the beginning of the Byzantine period (third–fourth centuries CE) were on the floor, including a thickened and everted rim of a jar with a long neck, of pinkish-orange fabric (Fig. 4:14). The remains were probably part of a residential structure.
Three squares were excavated, two adjacent to each other and a third––80 m to the southeast. A partial surface (0.56 × 0.78 m) paved with limestone flagstones was exposed at a depth of c. 0.6 m below a layer of hard brown agricultural soil in the southeastern square. The ceramic finds recovered from the surface dated to the sixth century CE. Another surface (L501; 0.90 × 0.95 m) of small fitted fieldstones was exposed in the two western squares (Fig. 9). South of and 1.05 m below the surface, a wall (W1; c. 1.8 m long) aligned east–west, built of large fieldstones and preserved two courses high (0.8 m), was exposed. A dark brown beaten-earth floor (L506) abutted the wall from the south.
A large quantity of potsherds from the sixth–seventh centuries CE (below) was found throughout the area. Four coins were discovered below Floor 506. Two coins of Anastasius I, dating to 498–518 CE (IAA 92561, 92564), and two coins of Justin I, dated to 518–527 CE (IAA 92562, 92563). A biconical object (Fig. 10:13) from this locus, made of black stone and broken at its ends, may possibly be a weight. Other finds retrieved from this area included nails (Fig. 10:14), a metal ring (Fig. 10:15), iron slag with remains of carbon, raw glass and fragments of glass vessels, similar to the finds from Area A.
Area D (Fig. 11)
Three squares were excavated: two adjacent to each other and a third––c. 6 m to the northeast. Sections of two parallel walls (W40, W41), oriented east–west, built of large ashlar stones and preserved a single course high (width 0.55 m, height 0.5 m), were exposed in the northern square. The walls were founded on hamra soil. Part of a small- stone pavement (L408) abutted W40 from the north.
A pavement of small stones (L400), which was laid on a bedding of soft brown soil, and two adjacent parallel walls (W42, W43) that were aligned north–south, were exposed in the two southwestern squares. The eastern wall (W43; length 3.2 m, width c. 0.7 m) was built of large, coarsely dressed ashlars and preserved a single course high (c. 0.45 m). Wall 42 (width c. 0.35 m), built next to its western face, was constructed from small bonded stones at an angle of 35° to the west. The western side of this wall was coated with gray plaster, containing small black inclusions. It may have been the side of a plastered installation, meant for storing liquids, which was built on a layer of hamra, whereas W43 supported the installation. A coin dating to 364–375 CE (IAA 92560) was discovered in the soil fill within the installation. Fragments of pottery vessels (below), a few fragments of glass vessels, similar to those found in Area A, and white tesserae that indicate an industrial installation, were recovered from the square. The installation was dated to the end of the Byzantine period–beginning of the Early Islamic period (sixth–seventh centuries CE).
The Ceramic Finds from Areas C and D are presented as a single assemblage, dating to the Byzantine period and the beginning of the Early Islamic period (fifth–seventh centuries CE). They include a thin bowl with an everted rim (Fig. 10:1); a bowl of pink clay, white slipped with a thickened inverted rim decorated with thin combed stripes on exterior (Fig. 10:3); a krater with a thickened rim, decorated with thin combing on exterior (Fig. 10:2); a krater of light pink clay with a ridge, separating the rim from a plastic decoration of thumb indentations (Fig. 10:4); a ribbed cooking pot with a wide mouth and two horizontal handles (Fig. 10:5); ribbed jars (Fig. 10:10, 11) and a crude hand-made jar of pinkish-red clay with a thickened rim (Fig. 10:9). The fragments of Fine Byzantine Ware included a bowl decorated with wavy combing (Fig. 10:6), long- neck jugs (Fig. 10:8), jugs with a folded-out rim (Fig. 10:7) and a jar stopper of red clay with white inclusions (Fig. 10:12).
Two half squares, c. 40 m apart and c. 500 m south of Area D, were opened. The northern square was excavated in dark brown agricultural soil to a depth of 1.36 m. A segment of an east–west wall (length c. 1.4 m) was exposed. East of the wall was a section of another perpendicular wall (length c. 0.8 m) that did not abut it. The two walls were founded on soil devoid of finds. They were built of medium-sized fieldstones (average dimensions 0.15 × 0.25 × 0.47 m) and preserved a single course high. The southern square, excavated to a depth of c. 2.7 m, contained two fallen stones.