During October 2003, a salvage excavation was conducted along the northeastern edge of Tell Qasile, within the precincts of the Eretz-Israel Museum (Permit No. A-4006*; map ref. NIG 180900/667708; OIG 130900/167708). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and the Eretz-Israel Museum, was directed by E. Ayalon and N. Bashkin-Yosef, with the assistance of L. Padrul-Kwitkowski (photography), R. Mishayev (drafting and drawing of finds), E. Ayash and D. Barkan.
An installation that included three adjacent underground pools, which were built in a large pit cut in the kurkar bedrock, was exposed (Fig. 1). The walls of the pools (width c. 0.35 m), built of small stones and mortar (debesh), were coated with impermeable gray plaster. The floors were plastered on top of a bedding layer (thickness 0.2 m). Two adjacent pools (11, 13) were in the west of the installation and a third pool (12), whose length was identical to the overall width of the two pools, was in the east (Fig. 2). Pool 11 was exposed in its entirety (1.25 × 1.55 m, 1.85 m deep). Two plastered steps were installed in its northeastern corner. Only the northeastern corner of Pool 13 (1.05 × 1.55 m, depth 1.9 m) was cleaned. Pool 12 (1.55 × 2.65 m, depth 1.9 m) was completely cleaned. Its walls were not absolutely straight. Two plastered steps were installed near the middle of the western wall and opposite them, along the eastern wall, was a semicircular settling depression (0.17 × 0.23, depth 8 cm). The fill in the pools, particularly in Pool 11, contained numerous potsherds from the Roman period, including open (Fig. 3:1) and closed pots (Fig. 3:2, 8) and lids (Fig. 3:3), jars (Fig. 3:4, 9), a saqiye jug (Fig. 3:5), amphora (Fig. 3:10) and a bottle (Fig. 3:6), as well as the side of a limestone basin (Fig. 3:7), fragments of tiles and heating pipes from a bathhouse, parts of a clay tabun, fragments of millstones and glass vessels and metal slags. Among the noteworthy finds was a heavy jar base from the Iron Age (?; Fig. 3:11). After it broke, its edge was fashioned by chipping as a straight rim and it was probably used as a crucible for smelting metal. An intact Roman lamp (Fig. 4), potsherds from the Iron Age (eleventh–tenth/ninth centuries BCE) and animal bones were discovered on the floor of Pool 11.
Groups of pools, similar in number and characteristics, were in use from the Roman until the Early Islamic periods and many of them were discovered at Caesarea (Patrich J. 1996. Warehouses and Granaries in Caesarea Maritima, in A. Raban and K.G. Holum, eds. Caesarea Maritima, a Retrospective after Two Millennia. Leiden. Pp. 146–176), Shiqmona (Elgavish J. 1994. Shiqmona on the Seacoast of Mount Carmel. Tel Aviv. P. 111, Fig. 87 [Hebrew]), Appolonia (Roll I. and Ayalon A. 1989. Apollonia and Southern Sharon. Tel Aviv. Pp. 60–62 [Hebrew]), Gelilot (ESI 10:120–121) and Ramla (ESI 19:52*–53*). These pools, apparently used for storage, were either covered with a roof or were part of a complete building.
A hewn pit (diam. 1.3 m, depth 1.25 m) was exposed c. 2 m east of the pool complex. Its fill contained potsherds that dated to the Byzantine period, as well as cow and donkey bones. The pit was sealed with a layer of hard soil and parts of kurkar sandstone, which contained potsherds from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, including the rim of a buff-colored Mafjar-type jug, decorated with a mold-made pattern of leaves and geometric designs.