During November 2004, a salvage excavation was conducted next to Nabi Khader in Banias (Permit No. A-4299*; map ref. NIG 26909/79492; OIG 21909/29492), in the wake of damage to antiquities caused when a road to Nabi Khader was paved. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Druze religious council, was directed by M. Hartal. The excavation was suspended after the route of the road was altered to avoid further damage to the antiquities.
Nabi Khader is a sacred tomb to the west of the spring. It is built on a bedrock cliff, along the edge of a steep slope of bedrock outcrops, in which remains of quarries and deep rock-hewn tombs, dating to the Roman period, are located. These are characteristic of Banias and originate in the Horan. They were observed among the large rocks where the road was cut. No such tomb was revealed in the narrow excavated strip; yet remains of quarries and two tombs that were probably built next to the sacred tomb were exposed.
Tomb 101. The tomb, oriented east–west, was devoid of finds, except for fragments of a skull in the northwestern corner, which indicate the head was placed in the west. This was probably a Muslim tomb that was dug near the prophet’s tomb. It was constructed inside a rock-cutting that was the remains of a quarry. A ceramic pipe of the kind used in the Banias aqueduct was installed between the tomb and bedrock. A section of a pipe, oriented north–south, emerged from a small regulating pool in the northwestern corner of the tomb. The diameter of the pipe was smaller than usual and it was positioned at an acute angle. It seems that the pipes were meant to drain the rain water and prevent it from penetrating into the tomb.
Tomb 105. Another tomb, situated at a lower level, was found south of Tomb 101. Its northern wall, built of stones and mud bricks, was next to the southern wall of Tomb 101. Only the eastern part of the southern wall, which stood just a single course height, was preserved. Bedrock was exposed in the east and human bones were visible in the west, bringing about the suspension of the excavation.
The steep slope to the west of the Banias spring, where the excavated area was located, remained uninhabited throughout all the periods. The small section revealed Muslim tombs that were not excavated and it was therefore impossible to date them. It seems that they were part of a cemetery located around the sacred tomb.