Square A (Fig. 2). Building remains of Strata I and II and a layer of fill (Stratum III) that covered the bedrock were exposed. The artifacts recovered from the surface (L100) included a few fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period, a coin from the Abbasid period (ninth century CE; IAA 109552) and a mixed assemblage of glass vessels, dating from the eighth century CE (below, Fig. 5:1, 2), the late tenth and the early eleventh centuries CE (below, Fig. 5:3–5) and the fourteenth century CE (below, Fig. 5:6, 10).
Stratum III. A layer of dark soil fill (L111; thickness 0.6–0.8 m) covered the travertine bedrock. The fill contained numerous worn potsherds, dating from the Byzantine period. A small quantity of later material was found, including a coin of the Zanji dynasty from the twelfth century CE (IAA 109554) that penetrated into this layer when a modern pit (diam. 1 m) was dug down to bedrock in the northwestern corner of the excavation area.
Stratum II. Remains of a room, oriented north–south, were exposed. It had three walls (W12–W14), preserved a single course high, which were founded on Fill 111, and a floor (L107, L113). Walls 12 and 13, which were not exposed to their full width, consisted of limestone and basalt fieldstones. Wall 14 (width 0.55 m) was built of neatly hewn basalt stones. The floor abutted the three walls and was composed of mud-brick material mixed with soil and potsherds, dating to the Early Islamic period. An Abbasid coin from the ninth century CE (IAA 109553) was discovered on the floor. An assemblage of pottery vessels that was recovered from the fill on the floor of the room included small potsherds, some of which were made of light colored clay. Since no glazed bowls were present in the assemblage, it should be dated to the beginning of the Abbasid period.
Stratum I. Remains of a structure that was founded on the remains of Stratum II were exposed. Two walls (W10, W11; width 0.55 m), built of neatly hewn basalt stones, formed a corner and were abutted by a floor (L105). The walls survived to a maximum three courses high. The floor, composed of mud-brick material mixed with soil and some small stones, was only partially preserved. The fill above the floor (L104) contained many small fragments of handmade vessels and glazed bowls; some were decorated with geometric patterns and dated to the Mamluk period.
Square B (Fig. 3). Building remains that belonged only to Stratum I were exposed. These consisted of a floor (L102) that included a work surface and two round ovens (L106, L108), which rested on a foundation (L109, L112; thickness 0.4–0.7 m) that covered the travertine bedrock. Floor 102 was composed of mud-brick material mixed with potsherds, a small amount of soil and large quantities of ash. An important assemblage of glass vessels, characteristic of the Mamluk period (fourteenth century CE; below, Fig. 5:7–9, 11), was discovered when the floor was dismantled (L103). The work surface, which was probably circular (diam. 1.05 m), was partially exposed at the eastern end of the excavation area. The surface was built of partly dressed basalt stones. The two identical ovens (diam. 1 m), dug into the floor, were exposed in the western and northern parts of the square. They contained a very large quantity of ash and charcoal, as well as bones and burnt potsherds.
Noteworthy among the vessels in the assemblage from this area are the glazed bowls (Fig. 4:1), some of which are decorated with slipped stripes (Fig. 4:2), mold-made glazed bowls (Fig. 4:3), Soft Paste Ware bowls (Fig. 4:4), imported Cypriot bowls (Fig. 4:5) and cooking pots (Fig. 4:7). The handmade vessels included a bowl (Fig. 4:6), molasses jar (Fig. 4:8), painted jar (Fig. 4:9), a flask decorated in relief (Fig. 4:10) and an incised vessel (Fig. 4:11). These finds dated the remains to the Mamluk period.
The excavation finds aid in determining the settlement distribution of Bet She’an in the different periods. Although it is customary to identify the location of the excavation as part of the city in the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, the finds from these periods are meager and were only discovered in Area A. During the Mamluk period, this area was situated within the city precincts, as evidenced by the finds that were discovered in the two squares, especially in Square B. Yet, the finds from the Crusader period were very scant, although the excavation was conducted just 70 m away from the fortress ascribed to this period.
Sixty-six fragments of glass vessels were discovered in the excavation, thirty of which were identified. Only one fragment that belongs to a base of a beaker or a juglet and dates from the Late Roman period was found. Several vessel fragments that are typical of the Late Byzantine and Umayyad periods, including wineglass bases and the wick-tube of a bowl-shaped oil lamp were discovered. These vessels are known from other assemblages excavated in Bet She’an. Most of the glass vessels are from the Early Islamic and Mamluk periods, including eleven fragments that are herewith illustrated: seven vessels were found in the surface layer in Square A (Fig. 5:1–6, 10) and four came from the Mamluk-period stratum in Square B (Fig. 5:7–9, 11).
Two vessels are ascribed to the Early Islamic period. The first is a bowl of pale yellowish glass, decorated below the rim with a tonged diamond pattern and a vertical line of short dashes (Fig. 5:1). Bowls of this kind first appeared in the Umayyad period and were very common in the Abbasid period, as evidenced by their discovery in the Hebrew University excavations in Bet She’an (Hadad S. 2005. Islamic Glass Vessels from the Hebrew University Excavations at Bet She’an [Qedem Reports 8]. Jerusalem, p. 37). The second vessel, attributed to the Umayyad period, is a bottle with a folded-in rim, made of turquoise glass that was blown in a mold rendering it a decorative pattern of vertical ribs (Fig. 5:2). Vessels made entirely of turquoise glass are quite rare, whereas a decoration of turquoise trails applied to vessels made of light colored glass was common at the end of the Byzantine and in the Umayyad periods.
Three vessels, two bottles (Fig. 5:3, 4) and the base of a beaker or a bottle (Fig. 5:5), are dated to the tenth–eleventh centuries CE. The bottles are made of colorless glass that is severely pitted and covered with a thick layer of crust, and both have a thick shelf-like rim. The bottle in Fig. 5:3 is plain, whereas the bottle in Fig. 5:4 is adorned with a wheel-cut decoration of a horizontal band below the rim and a decoration on the neck, of which one horizontal oval facet survived. The base in Fig. 5:5 is made of colorless glass with a pale yellowish tinge. This vessel is finer and its glass is of a better quality than that of the two bottles. The wall above the base is decorated with a wheel-cut horizontal band. The three vessels are very similar to vessels recovered from the Serçe Limani shipwreck, off the southern coast of Turkey, dating to the first third of the eleventh century CE. Many such vessels were found in Israel, at Tiberias and Ramla, as well as in Bet She’an, where they were discovered in assemblages dating to the Abbasid–Fatimid period (Hadad 2005, Pp. 44–45, Pl. 42:863, 864).
The other glass vessels in the assemblage date to the Mamluk period (Fig. 5:5–11). The rim in Fig. 5:6 belongs to a cup or a bottle of purple glass; the edge of the rim is decorated with a white trail that was heated into the glass. Two very similar base-rings in Fig. 5:7, 8 belong to tall cylindrical cups that were oftentimes used as lamps; they are made of colorless glass to which a turquoise trail was applied. The purple glass bottle in Fig. 5:9 is decorated with a pale gray-white trail that is wrapped from the edge of the rim and on the neck; the trail protrudes from the side of the vessel and is not embedded in it.
The body fragment in Fig. 5:10 represent a group of vessels that are decorated with inlaid glass trails, utilizing a technique referred to as marvered glass, which is characteristic of the Mamluk period. Light colored trails, usually white, are embedded in dark glass and are offset against a purple background, as in our example. The fragment in Fig. 5:11 belong to an amphoriskos or an omon/sprinkler flask of purple glass, whose body is mold-decorated with a pattern of vertical ribs that rotate diagonally. Remains of a white trail that adorned the vessel are apparent on the neck and shoulder. Two small tooled handles are drawn from the shoulder to the neck. This vessel – the form and especially the handles, the purple hue ornamented with a white trail and the decorative pattern – clearly reflect the tradition of glass design in the Mamluk period. This group of Mamluk vessels is very similar to the vessels recovered from the salvage excavation of the Mamluk neighborhood al-Watta in Zefat (Permit No. A-4210), which dated to the fourteenth century CE.