As no building remains were discerned on the surface, mechanical equipment was mostly used to check the area for quarries and underground installations. No remains that merit an excavation were discovered.
Twenty-five squares were opened in the eastern and highest part of the hill and building remains were exposed. A square building was discovered in the east; its walls (W327, W336), mostly preserved a single course high, were built of stones dressed on just two sides. The three exposed corners of the building were each built of three large ashlars that probably bore pillars, indicating the possible existence of a second story. Since only a few building stones were found and no signs of modern destruction, e.g., track marks of mechanical equipment, were detected, it is assumed that most of the robbery occurred at some unknown period in the past. It is clearly apparent in parts of the building that bedrock was intentionally leveled and used as a floor.
The small finds from this building were abundant and diverse. The ceramic artifacts included mostly large quantities of amphorae fragments; some were imported from Cyprus and Greece but the overwhelming majority was locally produced. Their presence is indicative of the site’s proximity to a port, possibly the ‘Atlit harbor. The few other potsherds belonged to cooking pots, a fry pan, a black-slipped lamp imported from Cyprus, two mold-made bowls adorned with geometric decorations and two fusiform juglets. The ceramic finds dated to the sixth–third centuries BCE and only very few potsherds could be attributed to the second century BCE. In addition, six very well-preserved coins that dated from mid-third–mid-second centuries BCE were found, as well as metallic artifacts, including a lead ingot, three lead fishing weights (Fig. 2), a square lead weight (Fig. 3) a bronze nail, a few fragments of mold-made glass vessels that apparently dated to the second century BCE, a piece of a bronze figurine and basalt millstones.
Remains of another building that extended westward, beyond the limits of the excavation, were exposed c. 20 m west of the square building. Two walls (W53, W388) that delimited the structure on the north and east were preserved, and a layer of fieldstones between them was probably the bedding of a floor that did not survive. The finds included mostly fragments of pottery vessels that dated to the fourth–third centuries BCE.
Remains of another building were discovered in the southwestern part of the area. Two rooms were exposed and one of them had an entrance that faced north. Plaster floors were preserved in both rooms. Gaps in one of the floors were apparently meant for pillars that supported the ceiling (Fig. 4).
Eighteen squares were opened at the northern end of the hill. Rows of rooms with stone-paved floors, whose walls were preserved only one–two courses high, were discovered; there seem to have been other rooms that had not survived. The finds included mostly fragments of pottery vessels dating to the fourth–third centuries BCE—the transition between the Persian and Hellenistic periods.
Beneath the floors of the rooms and to their north and west was a circular installation (diam. 10 m, preserved height c. 0.5 m; Fig. 5), whose fieldstone-built walls (width 1.2 m) were plastered on both interior and exterior. The installation was bisected by an east–west wall (width 1.2 m) that was also plastered on both sides. Floor beddings of tamped plaster, overlying bedrock, were noted at the bottom of the installation.
Similar installations had been excavated in the past at El‘ad, Shoham, Ramat Ha-Nadiv and elsewhere and were dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods (B. Zissu 1995. Kh. Aleq and Kh. Abu Haf - Two Herodian Columbaria Towers. In J. Humphrey, ed., Roman and Byzantine Near East [Journal of Roman Archaeology, Supp. Ser. 14]. Ann Arbor. Pp. 56–69). It is therefore likely that this installation was also a columbarium. Although no remains of dovecotes installed in the walls were found, a number of angled sections that could be the corners of niches were observed among the plaster fragments of the ruins. The entrance to the installation was not discovered; as in the case of other columbaria, it was probably located higher up to prevent the penetration of predators.
The entrances to all the buildings seem to face the same direction, indicating they were probably built around a central courtyard. Based on the architectural and small finds, particularly the ceramic artifacts that included a multitude of amphorae and a small number of serving and cooking vessels, it seems that the remains belong to a farmstead from the Persian–Hellenistic periods. The columbarium can be ascribed to the early phase of the farm and the other building remains, to its later phase. The ceramic and numismatic finds date the buildings to the fourth–third centuries BCE. The buildings postdated the columbarium and therefore the installation should be dated to the fifth or fourth centuries BCE. It is unclear why the site was abandoned in the second century BCE; however, it is evident that at some point in time the building stones were systematically robbed from the site.
The excavation contributes significantly to research concerning the transition from the Persian to the Hellenistic periods and enriches our knowledge with regard to ancient columbaria in the Land of Israel.