The Byzantine Period

Winepress

. The winepress consisted of a treading floor that had survived only by its northern part (L220; Figs. 1, 2), although the entire outline (5.1 × 5.1 m) could be reconstructed based on the complete exposure of this side. The floor was set on top of wadi pebbles and two technical phases could be discerned, indicating the winepress was used over a prolonged period. East of the treading floor was a square collecting vat (L215; 2.7 × 2 .7 m, depth 1.7 m) that had four steps (rise 0.35 m; Figs. 1: Section 3-3; 2, 3) leading to its bottom. The walls (width 1 m) of the vat, built of small stones bonded with a white conglomerate and surrounded by a white mosaic that was partially preserved, were coated with white plaster. Circular settling pits, installed along the northern and western edges of the collecting vat, had a ceramic drainage pipe leading into the vat. Another settling pit was set inside the vat’s northeastern corner. The floor of the vat, the steps and the bottoms of the settling pits were paved with a white mosaic (Fig. 3). The fill from the collecting vat included a large quantity of cooking pot (Fig. 4:1) and jar (Fig. 4:2–4) fragments that dated to the Byzantine period. The settling pit inside the collecting vat contained a complete jug (Fig. 4:5) and a toggle pin (Fig 4:6) which are dated to the fifth–sixth centuries CE, when the winepress was no longer in use.

 

The Ottoman Period

Aqueduct

(Fig. 5). Another 24 m long section of the Ottoman aqueduct that is built of ceramic pipes was exposed. The aqueduct, which begins at ‘Ein Qedem, c. 2 km to the east, is known from previous studies that also mention it began at ‘Ein Qedem and terminated at a reservoir next to Kafr Tira (HA-ESI 118). The exposed section of the aqueduct is composed of 12 m in the middle terrace and another 12 m in a sharp bend to the southwest, which is the last surviving section of the aqueduct, as its continuation toward the pool had been destroyed long ago. The aqueduct was built atop a foundation of two rows of undressed limestone that flanked a ceramic pipe. The dating of the aqueduct is based on the architectural remains excavated nearby. The aqueduct in the middle terrace passed nearby and related to the southeastern corner of a building from the Ottoman period (Fig. 6). The terrace (W238) in this section abutted the eastern wall of the building and also covered the aqueduct. Some 6 m north of this point, which is the highest on the middle terrace, both the aqueduct (W237) and the elevated northern part of the building were founded atop retaining walls (W239, W240), which dated the aqueduct with certainty to the time of the building, that is, the Ottoman period (see below).

 

The Ottoman Building

. The northern part of the building, excavated on the lower terrace, bordered the middle terrace and adjoined it. The construction of the building on the slope caused soil erosion and the collapse of its western part. The building consisted of a single room that was its residential area (L201; 5 × 10 m) and a front courtyard (L204; 2 × 9 m). The entrance was in the southeastern wall (W223) to whose southern part (W236) a row of stones was attached (W235), serving as an outer staircase that led to the roof of the building. The doorjambs, the socket stone and the lintel (Figs. 1: W242; 7) were found in a collapse in the entrance. A reconstruction of the entrance shows that it was 1.5 m wide and the doorjambs were 2.6 m high. All that survived of the building were the exterior walls and a plaster floor (L201), preserved to a width of more than 2 m, which abutted the northern wall (W221). The level of the entrance was 1 m lower than that of the floor and it is possible to reconstruct the interior partition of the building along two levels: a front entrance level (in Arabic: qa‘a el-beit) with a tamped-earthen floor and a rear shelf-like higher level (maztabah) that had a plaster floor, which was founded on top of retaining walls (W239, W240). In traditional Arab construction the upper level served as the residential area for the family members and the front level was used to store tools and food. Four pillars (W224, W227, W233, W234), which may have supported a cross vault,  were found in the western and eastern walls of the building. Cross vaults first appeared in the Roman period; however, the methods for building vaults that were brought to the Land of Israel by the Crusaders, using inferior bonding materials that consisted of a mixture of small fieldstones and cement, were adopted in vault construction as of the Middle Ages and later. It seems that in Tira the traditional building techniques of the Crusader period continued until the Ottoman period.

The artifacts recovered from the room were scarce and mostly included fragments of ceramic water pipes (Fig. 4:7–11) that can be attributed to the adjacent aqueduct.