Area A (Fig. 2) was opened c. 450 m from the beach, at the top of a gentle hill (35 m above sea level) that rises to c. 10 m above its surroundings. Seven excavation squares (each c. 4×4 m; totaling c. 150 sq m) were excavated to a depth of c. 0.5 m. Parts of several rooms and courtyards, whose walls were preserved two courses high (0.3–0.4 m), were discovered. A cistern (H) was revealed in the middle of the area; to the west of its opening, a feeder installation (W109–W111, W113) that supplied it with water was located. The remains of two building complexes were exposed c. 2 m northeast and c. 5 m southeast of the cistern. Two walls (W107, W108) of small kurkar stones that enclosed a room or courtyard (A) were uncovered in the northern complex. A large rectangular room (B), two smaller rooms (C, D) and a courtyard (E) were exposed in the southern complex (Fig. 3). Three of the walls of Room B (W101–W103) were bonded together and built of small kurkar stones, similar to the walls in the northern complex. Two building phases were discerned in the room’s western wall (W100): the northern part of the wall was built of medium-sized stones with smaller stones fitted in-between, whereas the southern section was built of flat dressed stones. It is possible that the southern section was built together with two walls (W104, W105) located to its west, which were constructed in a similar manner. These walls enclosed Rooms C and D. The differences between the two parts of W100 probably indicate two building phases in Room B. A hoard of seven gold coins that dated from the middle of the fourth–middle of the sixth centuries CE and a single worn bronze coin were found in this room next to W102 (below). A stone pavement that adjoined the western side of W100 was preserved in Room D. A rectangular installation (L1032) of dressed stones and a quern were discovered in Courtyard E, which extended west of Rooms C and D. A wall section (W106) was exposed in the southern part of the excavation area. It may indicate that another building, which included at least two rooms (F, G), stood south of Courtyard C. A cluster of jars (Fig. 4) was discovered in Room F, along the eastern side of W106, suggesting this room was used as a warehouse. The pottery vessels recovered from the various rooms, the courtyard and the cistern included bowls (Fig. 5:1–4), a cooking pot (Fig. 5:5), cooking krater (Fig. 5:6) and a lid (Fig. 5:7), as well as store jars (Fig. 5:8–10) and jugs (Fig. 5:11, 12) that dated to about the end of the sixth century CE; the vessel types reflect the domestic-residential character of the buildings. Other artifacts in the buildings included glass vessels, metal artifacts and bronze coins from the Byzantine period (below).
Area B is located c. 200 m from the beach, on the western slope of the kurkar ridge (c. 20 m above sea level). Four squares (4 × 4 m; totaling c. 100 sq m) were excavated to a depth of c. 0.3 m. Two adjacent cist tombs, built of dressed elongated stones and oriented generally north–south, were exposed (Fig. 6). The eastern tomb (0.6 × 2.0 m) was not excavated at the request of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. A few splinters of human bones and fragments of glass vessels that dated to the first–third centuries CE were found in the western tomb (1.00 × 1.75 m). Several potsherds were discovered around the tombs, including bowls (Fig. 7:1–3), a jar (Fig. 7:4) and a lantern (Fig. 7:5) that dated to the end of the sixth and the seventh centuries CE, slightly postdating the assemblages discovered in Area A.
A Byzantine settlement that dated to the sixth–seventh centuries CE, based mainly on the coins that were discovered in it (below), was exposed in the excavation. In light of the finds recovered from the tomb in Area B, a settlement had probably existed in the Roman period (first–third centuries CE). It seems that a residential quarter was exposed in Area A, as evidenced by the ceramic finds and the cistern. The coin hoard, which spanned a broad time frame (below), apparently reflects the personal wealth of one of the community’s inhabitants. Based on the finds uncovered in this residential region, the Byzantine settlement had at least two phases; however, it is difficult to gauge the nature of the settlement and determine its area with certainty. Yet in view of the finds from the Byzantine period that were discovered east of the current excavation (see HA-ESI 120: Fig. 2
), it seems that this settlement extended across an area of at least 70 dunams.
Thirty-nine bronze coins were discovered in the excavation, twenty-five of which are illegible and cannot be identified. A hoard of seven gold Byzantine coins (Fig. 8) and one worn bronze coin was discovered in Room B.
The coins that were not part of the hoard dated from the middle of the fourth century to the seventh century CE. Among these is a coin of Leo I (457–474 CE) and five coins of a five nummi denomination that bear a Christogram, four of which are local imitations. The latest coins discovered in the excavation is a six nummi coin from the time of the emperor Heraclius (613–618 CE) and a forty nummi coin of Constans II that is dated to c. 641 CE.
The composition of the coins in the gold hoard is especially interesting because two chronological groups are represented: the early group from the fourth century CE, includes three solidi, one from the time of Constantius II (355–361 CE; Fig. 8:1) and two of Valentinianus II (364–367 CE; Fig. 8:2, 3); the later group from the sixth century CE includes two tremissi, one from the time of Anastasius I (491–518 CE; Fig. 8:4) and two of Justin I (518–527 CE; Fig. 8:5), and two coins of Justinian I (527–565 CE) that consist of a semissus (Fig. 8:6) and a tremissus (Fig. 8:7). All the coins were minted in Constantinople, save the two solidi that were struck in Antioch (Nos. 1, 2). Gold hoards that include coins from such a broad time range, as is the case with this hoard, were recently discovered elsewhere in the country, at Horbat Rimmon and ‘En Gedi.