During August 2002, a trial excavation was conducted within the site of Horbat Gilan, along the route of the Cross-Israel Highway (Permit No. A-3625*; map ref. NIG 20325–70/71013–30; OIG 15325–70/21013–30). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. ‘Ouda, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), A. Masarwa (preliminary probes) and E. Yannai, A. Gorzalczany, T. Horovich, E. ‘Awawdy and laborers from Umm el-Fahm and Nazareth.
The site, situated on a moderate spur along the fringes of the Menashe Hills that descend toward Nah
al ‘Iron, is c. 500 m northeast of the Barqay Junction and c. 1 km east of Tel Asor. The region is characterized by qirton
bedrock upon which a thin layer of nari
developed, as well as forest soil and rendzina.
Nine squares were opened, revealing settlement remains that dated to the latter part of the Roman and the Byzantine periods (fourth–fifth centuries CE). Remains of buildings, an industrial installation and tombs were found (Fig. 1).
A wall (W501; 0.7 × 3.5 m; Fig. 1) was exposed on the hilltop that overlooks the Menashe Hills and Nah
al ‘Iron. Wall 501, oriented east–west, was built of fieldstones that were preserved one or two courses high. It was abutted from the north and south by floor beddings composed of small fieldstones (L903, L904). Fragments of numerous pottery vessels, mostly cooking pots and jars that dated to the end of the Roman and the Byzantine periods, were found on the floor beddings, i.e., bowls (Fig. 2:1, 2), a cooking krater (Fig. 2:3) and jars (Fig.2:5–8), as well as a few glass fragments and flint flakes.
Probes conducted beneath the floor beddings revealed a few potsherds that dated to Iron III, namely a jar (Fig. 2:4).
Rock-hewn Installation. Part of an installation (L401) that was apparently a winepress was excavated. The installation had a rectangular outline (1.2 × 1.6 m) and was hewn in nari bedrock; it was probably used as a treading floor in the production of liquids. Based on its diminutive size it seems that one or two laborers, at the most, could work in it. The installation contained a scant amount of worn, ribbed potsherds, probably ex situ.
Tombs. Seven rectangular-shaped cist tombs were exposed (Loci 101–103, 201–204; 0.7 × 1.6 m), but not excavated. They were oriented east–west, with a slight deviation to the north at the western end and were built of different sized fieldstones.
Part of a settlement that included residential buildings, an industrial installation and tombs was uncovered in the excavation. Based on the assemblage of pottery vessels recovered from the installation, the fill on the floor beddings and the wall, as well as the assemblage on the floor beddings, the site can be dated to the end of the Roman and the beginning of the Byzantine periods (fourth–fifth centuries CE).