Area D, comprising seven squares (4 × 4 m each; Fig. 2), was located at the foot of the hill. It was cleared both manually and mechanically of dark grumusol topsoil (c. 0.5 m thick) until the first archaeological remains—mainly small stone surfaces and several stone-built wall foundations, along with flints, pottery and very few animal bones—were reached in each of the seven squares. Time constraints and a shortage of labor led to the decision to excavate these remains only in three of the squares (G3, L8, M9). Their excavation unearthed remains belonging to at least three strata.
Structural remains of the two top strata were unearthed in Sqs L8 and M9 (Figs. 3–5). The top stratum (1) was exposed at a depth of c. 0.5 m below the present surface in Sqs L8 and M9 (c. 150 m asl). The remains comprised segments of stone-built foundation walls (W224–W226, W228, W236, W240) that protruded from the balks. These belonged to one, two or possibly even three separate buildings, most likely dwellings. The wall segments were associated with floor beddings made of small limestones (L230, L232, L237, L239, L242). The stone foundation of a small circular installation (L241) was found in the corner formed by two adjoining, but non-bonding, walls (W225, W240; Sq M9).
The remains of the second stratum (2) were unearthed c. 0. 3 m below the foundation level of the Stratum 1 walls. These comprised two wall segments (W249, W250) and associated small stone surfaces, which protruded from two different balks. They were exposed over a very limited area (c. 1.0 × 1.5 m).
A first reading of the sparse pottery found on the floors of Strata 1 and 2 indicates that these remains belong to two phases of the Late Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic period (early Wadi Rabah horizon; c. 5000 BC).
As Sq G3 was opened c. 30 m to the south Sqs L8 and M9, it was difficult to accurately tie the remains in Sq G3 (Fig. 6) into the stratigraphic sequence identified in the squares to its north. Three superimposed layers of small stones—possibly floor foundations like those in Sqs L8 and M9 or open (courtyard?) areas in between dwellings—could also be ascribed to the Wadi Rabah horizon. A probe opened in the southwestern quarter of the square, below the stone layers, revealed possible structural remains that seem to be sealed by floodplain deposits consisting mainly of flint stones and nodules. Since no pottery was found in the probe, these remains may date from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, as do ex situ flint artifacts retrieved from varying depths in most of the seven squares in Area D.
Area E (four squares; 4 × 4 m each; Fig. 7), located on the eastern slope of the hill, yielded mostly architectural remains from the Roman–Byzantine periods, which were horizontally exposed as much as possible. The remains belonged to two buildings, possibly part of a larger complex. The main structural remains, exposed on the higher reaches of the slope, comprised a large, rectangular building oriented north–south; its northern and southern extremes were not determined. At least three, and possibly more, building or usage phases were discerned in the building. Its remains consist of at least two external long walls, both founded on the downward-sloping bedrock, and smaller partition walls, as well as a large stone-paved area in its upper reaches (Fig. 8). What may be a segment of an eastern enclosing wall (W305, W320; Fig. 9)—located on the lower reaches of the slope, to the east of the main building—was preserved to a maximum height of eight courses of very large ashlars, founded on bedrock. Associated with these building remains were segments of two, possibly three, cylindrical stone columns, fragments of ceramic roof tiles, small white tesserae, pieces of lime plaster and two iron nails, as well as pottery, a few glass fragments, six bronze coins and some animal bones. These remains of a massive, large and well-constructed building, which included what seems to have been a stylobate (Fig. 10), columns and a tiled roof, suggest that this was a public building whose planners had access to numerous resources.
A preliminary reading of the rather small pottery assemblage along with the abovementioned six bronze coins—all from fills associated with the building, but none from actual floor levels—point to an early phase of activity in the Late Roman period (first–mid-second centuries CE) and a major phase of activity in the early Byzantine period (fourth–beginning of the fifth centuries CE). Most of the pottery vessels from this period, which include cooking pots, a krater, jars and their lids, were produced in local pottery workshops; only a few fragments of imported bowls, for example Hayes’ Late Roman Red ware, were noted, as well as ceramic roof tiles. This seemingly sparse presence of LRR ware lends weight to the dating of the site to the beginning of the Byzantine period, since in later sites this ware is ubiquitous. Furthermore, the pottery assemblage resembles that from H
orbat Jalame (Johnson 1988
), and the pottery vessels dating from the beginning of the Byzantine period are also similar to those produced in the Stratum 8 workshop at H
a (Avshalom-Gorni 2009
). This may indicate trade relations between the two communities during this period.
Two rock-hewn installations—one circular, the other rectangular (Fig. 10)—were uncovered in the bedrock on which the building was founded. Their date is unknown, but they seem to be the earliest evidence of human activity in this area. The presence of minute quantities of flint items and Early Bronze I potsherds in this area may be associated with this earliest occupation, although this cannot be ascertained.
The excavation yielded settlement remains from the Late Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic periods as well as from the Late Roman and early Byzantine periods. The later building remains belonged to a public structure—perhaps a fort. The large stone wall that enclosed on the east the compound in which the large building stood clearly indicates that the building was not the sole structure in this area but rather part of a larger complex. H
anaton’s strategic location along the Ptolemais-Dioceasarea (‘Akko–Z
ippori/Tiberias) Roman road (Roll 1995
) lends credence to the identification of the building as a public one. A section of this road, running along the southern fringes of Nah
al Evlayim, west of nearby Kafr Manda and a short distance from H
anaton, was examined in 1999 by M. Aviam