The excavation area (3.5–5.0×13.0 m; Figs. 2, 3) was bounded on the east by Highway 1 and on all its other sides by modern drainage pipes and power lines. Architectural remains, consisting of three main settlement phases (A–C; Figs. 4, 5) and two other secondary phases (C1, C2), were discovered. Meager building remains were ascribed to Phases A and B. Phase C comprised most of the remains in the excavation, consisting of walls and floors belonging to two rooms (A, B) and a built passage (L11) that led to an open courtyard, part of whose pavement (L12) was preserved. Another room (C) was ascribed to Phase C1 and a single wall (W17) was ascribed to Phase C2, the latest phase in the excavation. Phases C, C1 and C2 dated to the Late Byzantine and Umayyad periods (sixth–seventh centuries CE). It seems that the two secondary phases reflected the changes in the partition of the building.
Two sections of walls (W14, W15; Fig. 6) discovered in the center of the excavation area were ascribed to this earliest phase. They were constructed atop the bedrock and were poorly preserved. A layer of tamped terra rossa soil mixed with lumps of lime and crushed potsherds (L21; 0.20×0.25 m, thickness 0.05 m) was exposed c. 0.2 m west of the walls. Level 21 and Walls 14 and 15 were significantly lower than the level of the other remains at the site, and they were exposed beneath an accumulation of quarry debris (L6).
Remains of a wall (W20; preserved length 1.4 m, width 0.5 m, preserved height 0.55 m; Figs. 7, 8) were exposed in the southern part of the excavation area. It was aligned north–south and built of a single row of various size fieldstones. Wall 20 was founded on soil fill, and on the basis of its construction it seems that it served as a partition wall. The wall was revealed below soil fill (L25; thickness 0.1 m) upon which the floor bedding of Room A (Phase C) was placed (L14; below).
Room A (width 2.8 m; Fig. 9). Three of the room’s walls (W11–W13) were exposed; they were built of two rows of fieldstones, some of which were coarsely dressed, and set on a foundation of small fieldstones placed on a layer of terra rossa fill (L25). A light beige section of the room’s floor (L13; 0.5×0.6 m, thickness 1.2 cm) that abutted the southern face of W12 was exposed beneath the terra rossa accumulation (L8). This floor consisted of a layer of plaster mixed with small gravel (thickness 1 cm) and overlain with a thin smoothed layer of gray plaster mixed with crushed potsherds (2–3 mm thick; Fig. 10). The floor bedding (L14; 0.60–1.45×2.80 m, thickness 0.10–0.15 m), composed of finely compacted crushed chalk, was uncovered throughout the entire area of the room and it abutted the foundations of all of the room’s walls (Fig. 11). Terra rossa fill devoid of stones (upper part—L26, lower part—L29) was discovered below the bedding. Fourteen circular cavitiess were dug into the floor bedding. The excavation of two cavities (L15—0.30×0.45 m, depth 0.15 m; L17—0.35×0.40 m, depth 0.12 m) seems to indicate they were not used as installations; rather, they were intended as repairs for the floor or its foundation, which were probably damaged as a result of weathering or moisture. The cavities were dug so that the builders could fix the damaged area. Then the cavity was filled with terra rossa soil and flat fieldstones were placed on top of it. A layer of plaster might have been coated on these fieldstones to complete the repair, but no such layer was discovered.
Room B (width 2.9 m). A large deep pit (2.9×2.9 m, depth 4.5 m), whose digging damaged the remains of the room, was exposed in work conducted in the area prior to the excavation. A section of a wall (W10; preserved length 1.5 m, width 0.5–0.6 m, preserved height 1 m) that delimited the northern side of the room was exposed. Wall 12 delimited the room on the south. A narrow strip of mosaic pavement (L3; 0.30–0.45×3.0 m; Fig. 12) was exposed along the eastern edge of the pit. It mainly consisted of large white tesserae, except for several pink colored tesserae that were randomly inserted in it and the tesserae were arranged haphazardly. The southern portion of the mosaic floor abutted the northern side of W12. In the north it also adjoined the eastern end of W10 and it therefore seems that a doorway in Room B was installed in that spot that led northward.
Several levels were documented below the modern road in the eastern section of the pit (Fig. 13). The upper level, directly below the road, was an accumulation of dark brown alluvium (L2; thickness 0.65 m) that covered the remains below it. Mosaic Floor 3 was exposed beneath this accumulation and the mosaic’s foundation (L4; thickness 7 cm) underlay the floor. This foundation comprised two levels: an upper level of light gray plaster (thickness 1.5–2.0 cm) mixed with pieces of charcoal and coarse gravel, in which the tesserae were set, and a lower level (thickness 4–5 cm) of small fieldstones bonded in dark gray mortar. Terra rossa fill devoid of stones (L5; thickness 0.30–0.35 m) was exposed below the foundation. Below this fill was a level of quarry debris (L6; thickness 1.2 m) on the bedrock; in the upper part of this level were small limestone chips, while larger fieldstones in the lower part of the level were discerned down to bedrock, which sloped gently from south to north. Walls 14 and 15 of Phase A (above) were discovered on the bedrock.
Passage and Courtyard. A built passage (L11; width 0.65 m), whose floor was coated with yellowish white plaster, was exposed between Walls 10 and 18, north of Room B. The passage, discovered blocked with stone collapse, led north to a section of a courtyard that was paved with small fieldstones (L12; 0.35–0.70×1.70 m), arranged side by side with narrow spaces between them. The southern end of Pavement 12 was the passage from Room B. Burnt marks evident on some of the pavement stones may possibly indicate a cooking place. A fragment of a marble chancel screen was discovered incorporated in secondary use in the northern part of the floor’s pavement (Figs. 14, 15). Pavement 12 abutted a wall to its east (W18; length 3.85 m, preserved height 0.5–0.8 m; Fig. 16). Wall 18 was built of partly dressed fieldstones arranged as stretchers. The quality of the wall’s construction was better than that of the walls exposed in Rooms A and B. Most of W18 was buried beneath the eastern section of the excavation and only its western face was revealed. Another fragment of a marble chancel screen was discovered while straightening the section between Pavement 12 and W18 (Fig. 17).
Room C. A section of a wall (W19; preserved length 0.6 m, width 0.6 m, preserved height 0.7 m), which was perpendicular to W18 and apparently delimited Room C from the south, was exposed in the north of the excavation area. North of W19 was a section of a white mosaic pavement (L27; 0.20–0.45×1.20 m; Fig. 18), whose tesserae were arranged more carefully than those of Mosaic Floor 3 in Room B. It seems that the floor originally abutted W19, whose foundation (L30) severed the stone pavement of the Phase C courtyard (L12) and it therefore seems that the wall was built on top of the courtyard, thus reducing its size.
A section of a wall (W17), resting against the northern end of W18, was discovered east of Mosaic Floor 27. It seems that W17 was built on top of the mosaic floor and severed it, although this was difficult to determine since most of the wall is buried beneath the eastern section of the excavation. The part of the wall exposed in the excavation might be the western side of a partition wall that was built on the mosaic floor in Room C.
The finds from the excavation included potsherds, glass vessels (see T. Winter, below), coins, stone and metallic artifacts and animal bones. Most of the finds were discovered in Room A, which was better preserved than the other rooms.
Ceramic Finds.—the vessels found in the lower level of the sealed fill beneath the foundation of Room A (L29) included rims of imported LRC3 bowls (Fig. 19:1–3) dating to the second half of the fifth–first half of the sixth centuries CE (Hayes 1972:332, Fig. 68
), a basin rim (Fig. 19:6) dating from the sixth to the early eighth centuries CE and a body fragment of a jar decorated with deep gouging (Fig. 19:14) dating to the Umayyad period (661–749/750 CE). The vessels in the upper level of this sealed fill (L26) included an imported CRS10 bowl (Fig. 19:4) dating to the mid-seventh century CE (Hayes 1972:380, Fig. 82:13), a rim of a locally manufactured bowl (Fig. 19:5) dating to the sixth–seventh centuries CE and a jar rim (Fig. 19:10) characteristic of the Umayyad period. The accumulation of soil above the floor of Room A (L8) yielded a basin with a bowed rim (Fig. 19:7) dating to the third–sixth century CE, a basin with a ledge rim (Fig. 19:8) dating to the first/second–third centuries CE, a jar from the Byzantine period (Fig. 19:11), a jar from the Umayyad period (Fig. 19:12) and a fragment of a roof tile (imbrix
) that bears a stamped impression of concentric circles (Fig. 19:16). The fragments in the lower level of the surface layer (L2) consisted of an intact cooking pot without a rim (Fig. 19:9) that contained a fragment of a glass vessel (below), a base fragment of an imported LRC bowl with a stamped impression of a cross on it (Fig. 19:13) and a fragment of a candle-stick lamp characteristic of the sixth/seventh–early eighth centuries CE (Fig. 19:15).
Stone Items.—Two fragments of a marble chancel screen in secondary use were discovered in the courtyard. Other small pieces of a marble chancel screen were exposed below the floor foundation in Room A and above that floor.
Metal Artifacts.—The soil accumulation above the floor of Room A (L8) and the fill below that floor foundation (L26) contained four iron nails that were probably used in construction (Fig. 20:1–4), a hook (Fig. 20:5), a lead connector used in repairing pottery vessels (Fig. 20:6) and bronze slag (Fig. 20:7).
Coins.—a coin dating to the years 383–392 CE (IAA 141290) was found in one of the cavities discovered in the floor of Room A (L17). A coin from the years 351–361 CE (IAA 141292) and a coin from the second half of the fifth century CE (IAA 141293) were discovered in the fill sealed beneath the floor foundation in Room A (L26). A follis of Justin II (574/5 CE) that was struck in the Nicomedia mint (IAA 141295) was discovered in W13 of Room A and aids in dating the structure. A Byzanto-Arab coin from the years 645–670 CE (IAA 141291) was discovered in the section above the mosaic floor in Room B. A coin of Constantinius II from the years 351–361 CE (IAA 141289) and another Byzanto-Arab coin from the years 645–670 CE (IAA 141288) were found in the soil accumulation above the floor level in Room A (L8). A total of five coins dating to the fourth–fifth centuries CE were discovered. The follis of Justin II, which dates to the sixth century CE, assists in dating the construction of the building. The two late Byzanto-Arab coins, discovered in unsealed assemblages, indicate that the building continued to be used at least until the third quarter of the seventh century CE.
Animal Bones.—A meager amount of animal bones was discovered throughout the excavation area. Larger concentrations of animal bones were found in the accumulations of the habitation level above the floor in Room A (L8) and also on the surface layer above Room A (L2).
The proximity of the excavation to the nearby Armenian monastery seems to indicate that the remains that were uncovered here are part of the monastery complex, possibly service rooms or living quarters that were built alongside an open courtyard. The dating of the construction of the building is based on the follis
from the last quarter of the sixth century CE, which was discovered in the wall of Room A. The finds from the fill sealed beneath the floor foundation in Room A (L26, L29) and from the accumulations above the floor (L8) date the main phase of the building’s use to the seventh century CE. The significant investment in the repairs to the floor in Room A shows the prolonged use of the building. The date of the building is consistent with that of the finds from the remains of the nearby Armenian monastery, which according to the excavators, was enlarged and improved in the Umayyad period (Amit and Wolff 1993
). The secondary use of marble chancel screens in the building, which were originally utilized in churches, shows that Phase C in the building is the latest phase in the existence of the monastery complex there. The ceramic finds and coins from the fourth–fifth centuries CE seem to represent the earliest settlement phase at the site, which was not clearly identified and might possibly be Phase 2 in the excavation.
The Glass Finds
The glass finds from the excavation included some 120 very small fragments, of which 37 are diagnostic. The glass from Room A (L2, L8, L17, L26 and L29) comprised fragments of bowls and beakers, bottles and jugs, oil lamps, windowpanes and a single green glass tessera; one of the glass vessels (Fig. 21:7) was discovered inside a nearly complete cooking pot (Fig. 19:9). The glass from Room B (L5 and L7) included tiny fragments of rounded rims and a wineglass base. The courtyard (L9, L10 and L28) and the passage north of Room B (L22) yielded tiny glass fragments of rounded rims, and body fragments adorned with applied thin blue trails.
Most of the glass vessels and windowpanes are greenish blue, and are characteristic of the late Byzantine and Umayyad periods. The open vessels include bowls (Fig. 21:1) and beakers (Fig. 21:2), as well as wineglasses with a hollow ring base (Fig. 21:5) or a single-beaded stem (not illustrated). The closed vessels include bottles (Fig. 21:3) and jugs (Fig. 21:4). Several vessels are decorated with applied thin blue trails (Fig. 21:2, 4), a feature typical particularly of the Byzantine period. One of the vessels is decorated with applied and pinched thin turquoise-colored trails (Fig. 21:6), and others are adorned with rows of small pinches (Fig. 21:7), characteristic of Late Byzantine and particularly Umayyad-period vessels. The oil lamps include an example of the globular type with three small handles (not illustrated), several specimens with a cylindrical wick-tube installed at the center of the floor (Fig. 21:8), and a hollow cylindrical stem of a bowl-shaped oil-lamp (Fig. 21:9). The identifiable windowpanes are quadrangular (Fig. 21:10).
The assortment of glass finds from the excavation resembles that of other contemporaneous glass assemblages from Jerusalem and its vicinity, many of which originated from Christian ecclesiastical complexes dating from the late Byzantine and early Umayyad periods, e.g., at Khirbat Tabaliya (Gorin-Rosen 2000), and at the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Gorin-Rosen 2005).
The dating of the glass finds from the late Byzantine and early Umayyad periods, i.e., the sixth–seventh centuries CE, corresponds to the numismatic evidence and to the excavator’s dating (Phase C) of the foundation and use of Rooms A and B and the courtyard. The resemblance of the glass assemblage to other contemporaneous glass assemblages from Christian ecclesiastical complexes in Jerusalem and its vicinity reinforces the excavator’s suggestion that the rooms exposed were part of the monastic complex discovered nearby in the 1990s.