During February and May 2008 and January 2010, two excavations were conducted within the precincts of the designated antiquities site Ha-ma‘apil (Permit Nos. A-5424 [Area A], A-5800 [Area B]; map ref. 19887–8/69858–9), prior to construction. The excavations, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Qibbuz, were directed by O. Segal, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian and A. Re’em (surveying), N. Zak and E. Belashov (drafting) and T. Sagiv and A. ‘Azab (field photography).
Previous surveys and excavations in the region revealed ancient building remains and potsherds whose date spanned the Late Bronze Age to the Byzantine period (Fig. 1: I; HA 46:9 [Hebrew]). Tombs from the Roman period were discovered in the domestic area and in fields of the Qibbuz (Fig. 1: II–IV; ESI 3:37–38, ‘Atiqot 21: 66*–67*), among them four tombs that had been discovered east of the dining room (License No. &-28/1954; Figs. 1: II; 2). Tomb I contained a single burial; human remains were found in a small section of Tomb 2, which is indicative of bone collecting; Tomb 3 contained four interments and Tomb 4 was destroyed. Nearby, a rectangular ashlar-built tomb (Permit No. A-77/1; 1.3×2.8 m; Fig. 3) whose sides were preserved three courses high was excavated in 1966; it was apparently plundered in antiquity.
The current excavations were conducted in two areas, in the orchards south of Highway 581. A winepress from the Hellenistic period was revealed in Area A, and a built cist tomb, ascribed to the Roman period, was exposed in Area B, c. 100 m to the southwest.
A winepress, which had survived solely by its collecting vat (1.5×1.8 m; wall width 0.5–0.7 m; Figs. 4, 5), was exposed. The vat was founded on hamra soil and its northern wall (W104; preserved height 0.7 m) was exposed on the surface while the other walls (W105–W107; preserved height 0.1–0.2 m) were not nearly as well preserved. A sump (diam. 0.7 m, depth 0.5 m) was exposed in the vat’s northwestern corner. The collecting vat was coated with a single layer of white plaster, whose type is generally dated to the Hellenistic period (the Hasmonean dynasty) and in which four phases of repair were discerned.
The treading floor, which could be reconstructed south of the collecting vat, was evidently destroyed by agricultural work over the years.
A few potsherds, including non-ribbed jar body fragments of light colored clay were found.
A cist tomb (0.55×1.90 m; Figs. 6, 7), oriented northwest-southeast and built of dressed nari, was exposed. The missing eastern part of the tomb was probably destroyed due to development activity. The tomb’s walls survived a single course high (c. 0.5 m); the short western wall was built of two stone courses. The tomb, filled with sandy hamra soil, was founded on the sand. Two dressed ashlars were exposed c. 10 m northwest of the tomb; these may have belonged to another tomb that was destroyed by development work. Based on the finds from the previous excavations, the tombs can be dated to the Roman period and are ascribed to the northern extension of the cemetery from this period.
The excavations indicate that the center of the ancient settlement was situated in the region of the fish ponds, where fragments of pottery vessels that dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods were collected, while the area to the north, in the Qibbuz and its fields, was used for agriculture in the Hellenistic period and for burial in the Roman period.