In September 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted on Herzl Street in Azor (Permit No. A-6900; map ref. 181765–68/659037–75; Fig. 1:6), after ancient remains were exposed during a preliminary antiquities inspection prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Dagot, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), C. Ben-Ari (preliminary inspections), M. Kunin and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), C. Ben-Ari and A. Dagot (GIS), A. Peretz (field photography), Y. Shmidov (plans), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), C. Amit (studio photography), I. Lidski-Reznikov (glass drawing), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and A. Bouchenino (ceramics).
Squares A1 and A2 (Fig. 2). Two wall segments (W106, W114) that constituted the northwestern corner of a building were exposed. Wall 106 (height 0.19 m) was built of different-sized kurkar stones and was preserved to a height of two courses. Wall 114 (height 0.21 m) survived to a height of a single course. Among collapsed stones (L103, L113) found west and east of W114 were fragments of Olynthus-type basalt millstones, fragments of pottery and glass vessels and a follis of Maurice Tiberius (582–602 CE; IAA 143592) minted in Constantinople.
Square A3. A tabun (L110; diam. 0.6 m, depth 0.3 m) and a refuse pit (L107) located to its north were uncovered. The tabun was built of clay and lined with small fieldstones laid on topsoil. Numerous pottery sherds were recovered from inside the pit. Both the tabun and the pit date to the Late Byzantine – Early Islamic period.
The pottery vessels from the excavation date to the Late Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, up to the ninth–tenth centuries CE. These include LRC-type bowls (Fig. 3:1, 2); a plain bowl/krater (Fig. 3:3); cooking vessels (Fig. 3:4, 5), one of which (No. 4) has a cut rim and another (No. 5) that has two horizontal handles; several types of jars (Fig. 3:6–10); a saqiye vessel (Fig. 3:11) made of buff-colored clay; a body fragment of a jug (Fig. 3:12) that is slipped white, decorated with horizontal stripes and is probably an Egyptian import; a cup (Fig. 3:13) made of high-quality orange clay; a burnt, mold-made lamp (Fig. 3:14) with a tongue handle of the type characteristic of the Abbasid and Fatimid periods; and jar stoppers (Fig. 3: 15, 16). The jars include several zir vessels (Fig. 3:6, 7) with a long neck and a ridge at its base, which were probably produced in the Jerusalem region, one of which has a fermentation hole perforated in its wall (No. 7); an imported Egyptian jar (Fig. 3:8); and bag-shaped jars (Fig. 3:9, 10) made of orange clay which were produced until the ninth century CE.
Seven fragments of glass vessels dating to the Late Byzantine–Early Umayyad period were found. Most were recovered from Refuse Pit 107; these were presumably discarded after they were used as tableware and for lighting. The vessels represent very common types, and might have been manufactured in a local workshop that operated in the settlement. The existence of a glass workshop is attested to by glass industrial debris that was discovered in previous salvage excavations in Azor (van den Brink 2005; Torge 2005; Permit No. A-4945). In most of the Azor excavations, a stratum dating to the Byzantine period and beginning of the Early Islamic period was revealed, and the industrial remains can probably be attributed to this time period. Below is a description of four of the vessels.
A deep bowl or beaker (L108; Basket 1017; Fig. 4:1) that might also have been used as a lamp. It is made of light greenish-blue glass and has an upright rim folded thickly inwards and a curved wall. Vessels of this type are known from Umayyad-period assemblages that were discovered in Ramla.
A rim of a wine wine-glass or bottle (Pit 107; Basket 1007; Fig. 4:2). The vessel is made of extremely pale bluish-green glass and has an upright curved rim and a turquoise-colored wound trail below it. The vessel was probably initially blown in a mold that was rotated. The quality of the glass and manner in which it is decorated are characteristic of vessels dating to the Late Byzantine period and Early Umayyad period.
Two bases of hollow stem lamps made of pale greenish-blue glass. Both have a truncated pontil scar and bear glass remains from the rod. The base of Lamp 3 (Pit 107; Basket 1007; Fig. 4:3) has a conical shaped stem. The base of Lamp 4 (L109; Basket 1021; Fig. 4:4) has a stem that tapers toward the top, where it is constricted before it connects to the vessel. There is a pinch mark on its wall, where it was held while still hot. The lamps are most likely contemporary, but differ in their form, treatment and design.
The excavation and its finds corroborate conclusions drawn in previous excavations, indicating the existence of a settlement in the region dating to the Late Byzantine period and Early Islamic period. The architectural remains are probably those of a residential building, near which household activities were conducted.
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