Area A

The Early Byzantine Period (4th-5th ceturies CE). Segments of a mud-brick wall (width 0.8 m) and earthen floors that were overlaid with pottery fragments were exposed; these may have been the remains of a private building.

 

The Late Byzantine Period (6th–7th centuries CE). A well-planned complex of large mud-brick buildings (wall width 0.8–1.0 m), which appear to have been public buildings, was unearthed. Dressed stones were incorporated in the construction of the complex, in several places, mainly in the pillars and as a facade for the mud-brick walls. The complex consisted of at least two buildings that flanked a street, as well as other architectural remains. Seven large rooms were uncovered in the eastern building. One of the rooms had a massive mud-brick built cell that was filled with mud-brick fragments. On the floors of another room were fragments of glass and pottery vessels, among them Coptic vessels, and a goblet decorated with a stamped pattern of herringbone impressions. In still another room was part of the lower part of an installation (preserved size 1.0 × 1.8 m), built of small stones and coated with white plaster; its function is unclear. The western building, which was devastated by a mighty conflagration, consisted of five large rooms. Gaza jars stood upside down along a wall, on the floor of one of the rooms. Next to them were plaster stoppers, bearing the molded relief of a lion and a cross. The street passing between the two buildings contained very large quantities of potsherds, probably refuse discarded from the buildings. A water cistern was located south of the western building. A ceramic bread stamp, bearing a cross, and a Greek inscription that was found hidden inside a grind stone in secondary use, overlaid the floor of a room in the western part of the complex.

 

The Early Islamic Period. A lamp dating to the 8th century CE was discovered above remains of a stone floor. A plastered water cistern built of ashlar stones was excavated, as well as stone-building remains and plaster atop a wall from the Byzantine period.

 

The Middle Ages and Mamluk Period. The scant remains of five stone buildings were detected, including beaten earth and stone floors. Some of the walls were built of two rows of stones with a core of mud and rubble, whereas the others consisted of a single row of stones; they may have been used as animal pens. Many tabun remains and ash were uncovered in the buildings, as well as large refuse pits; a dog was buried in one of the pits. Fragments of pottery vessels and animal bones overlaid the floors and were found in the refuse pits. The earlier building remains were reused in these periods, as was the water cistern from the Late Byzantine period. In a later phase the refuse pits were filled in, and buildings were constructed above them.

 

Area B

The Byzantine Period. Part of a building, whose walls were built of mud bricks, was exposed. Mud was applied to the walls (width 0.6 m) as a base for pottery fragments that covered them. The walls were preserved 0.2–0.5 m high. Prior to the construction of the building, the area was leveled down with pottery-workshop debris that was used to fill in the depressions in the ground. Two phases, consisting of raising floor levels and adding walls, were discerned in the building, wherein two rooms and part of a third were excavated. Numerous pottery fragments overlaid the floors of the rooms. One of the rooms contained many intact Gaza jars that had fallen on the floor. Two floors, one above the other, were recorded in another room; the upper floor was c. 0.3 m higher than the lower one. Remains of a wall that was abutted by a floor, which negated the use of an earlier floor were detected in the western side of the building.

 

The Mamluk Period. Refuse pits that were dug into the building from the Byzantine period were revealed.

 

Area C

The Persian Period (5th century BCE). Meager remains of a refuse pit and ceramic finds were recorded.

 

The Byzantine Period. A mud-brick wall oriented north–south was exposed. Judging by the similarity of its orientation to that of the buildings from the same period in Area A it probably dated to the 6th–7th centuries CE. A massive stone wall that was preserved to the height of its foundation courses severed the mud-brick wall; the impressions of ashlar stones were noted on the mortar of the upper course. A surface stone floor abutted the stone wall. Later building remains were traced on the floor. This floor resembled that of the church at Magen, c. 4 km southeast of Ma‘on (BASOR 258:1–16); a church was probably built here as well in a later phase of the Byzantine period. Robber trenches intended for locating ashlar stones contained an abundance of marble fragments, roof tiles and colored tesserae.

 

The Early Islamic Period. Parts of the building from the Byzantine period were reused in this period, based on the metal objects and lamps that were retrieved from pits in the western part of the building.

 

The Mamluk Period. A refuse pit existed in the eastern part of the area.