During June–July 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted at El-Muntar el-Abyad (South; Permit No. A-4832; map ref. 246515/710151), after antiquities were damaged during the installation of a sewer line. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Bet She’an Economic Company, was directed by W. Atrash, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), A. Shapiro (GPS), H. Smithline (field photography), Y. Kadosh (graphics) and D. Sandhaus (pottery reading).
The site is situated on an elongated hill that extends south and southwest of Bet She’an, c. 300 m west of the Jordan Valley road (Highway 90). Two squares were opened c. 100 m apart (A, B; Fig. 1) in which remains that dated to the Roman period were exposed. A road section paved with travertine slabs and the foundation course of a round building were revealed in the western Square A and a quarry in a leveled bedrock surface for hewing travertine stones was discovered in the eastern Square B.
Square A (7.0 × 7.5 m; Fig. 2). A section of a Roman road (L102) was exposed; it was oriented east–west and apparently linked Tel Rehov with El-Muntar el-Abyad, where it split into two roads, one led to Nysa-Scythopolis and the other continued west toward the Jezre’el Valley. The road was paved with large flagstones of various sizes and shapes (max. dimensions 1.0 × 1.5 m, thickness c. 0.2 m; Fig. 3) that were founded on a layer of sterile gray soil. The slabs were of travertine rock that was hewn in the quarry, whose remains were discovered in Square B.
The southern part of a round structure (diam. c. 4. 5 m; Fig. 4) was exposed along the northern side of the road. All that remained of it was a curved wall (W104) and a stone fill (L103) that were built of large travertine fieldstones, preserved a single course high (0.4 m). It seems that these stones, which were placed on a layer of sterile gray soil, formed a massive foundation for the structure that did not survive. The building may have been a mausoleum, as its location alongside the road and its round shape would suggest. The structure was apparently part of the necropolis of Nysa-Scythopolis in the Roman and Byzantine periods, like the sarcophagus remains from the Roman period that were exposed c. 700 m northwest of the structure (Permit No. A-3958; see Fig. 1).
The remains of the road and the wall were found covered with two layers of earth. The bottom layer (L101) was composed of water laden-alluvium and the upper (L100, surface level) consisted of farming soil; potsherds that dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods were found in both layers. It seems that the road and the wall were erected in the Roman period and continued to be used until the end of the Byzantine period; they ceased to be used during the Muslim conquest when the residents of Bet She’andestroyed the aqueduct and inundated most of the farmland near the city.
Square B (4 × 10 m; Fig. 5). A leveled travertine surface (L105) that extended across a small hill was exposed. The eastern part of the surface probably served as a road—part of the road network that ran south of Bet She’an. The western part of the surface was utilized as a quarry (L106; Fig. 6) where building stones were hewn. At least one layer of negatives of large stones (0.8–1.0 × 0.9–1.5m, thickness 0.28–0.40 m) could be discerned in the quarry.