Forty squares were opened and four strata were exposed, dating to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods: Stratum I (mid-seventh century CE), Stratum II (mid-sixth–beginning of seventh centuries CE), Stratum III (beginning–mid-sixth century CE) and Stratum IV (fifth century CE). Not all the strata were exposed in all the squares and excavation areas.
Due to the size and elongated shape of the excavated area, the remains are described according to areas (A–E; Fig. 1), based on the nature of finds in each group of excavation squares, from north to south.
Area A (Squares 37–40)
Meager remains that could not be connected with the strata identified in the rest of the excavation areas were discovered. These included a few sections of floors and walls, an installation that was probably used for liquids and a tamped-earth surface overlain with fragments of pottery vessels and building stone debris that remained from the looting of a building.
Area B (Squares 30–36)
This is the largest excavated area, in which three strata were identified.
Stratum IV. Sections of two residential buildings and part of a public building that was identified as a synagogue were exposed .A thick layer of collapse, containing large ashlar stones, pieces of roof tiles, sections of a ceramic pipe and numerous pottery fragments, was discovered on the floors of the buildings. Three contiguous mosaic carpets were exposed in the structure, which is considered to be a synagogue and mostly extends beneath the railroad tracks. A medallion with a Greek inscription reading “Moshe will be remembered” was in the northeastern carpet (Fig. 2).
Stratum III. The remains of two buildings were exposed. One, in the northeast, was a residential building paved with stones. The other, in the west, was partially excavated, although it is clear that it was a large and impressive structure. A number of mosaic floors were discovered in this building; traces of a fire were visible on some floors and between them were robber trenches and wall stumps. The building was surrounded by a water channel, to whose east was a thick tamped chalk floor that covered the remains of Stratum IV.
Stratum II. The dwellings of Stratum IV were covered by floors (thickness c. 8 cm) that consisted of two layers of tamped chalk separated by soil. The synagogue was covered with a similar floor that negated the structure and converted it to a courtyard surface. The mosaic building from Stratum III was turned into a public building, probably a church. An apsidal wall in the eastern part of the structure severed the floors of Strata IV and III and the apse was paved with a white mosaic of large tesserae. The construction of the apse resulted in the cancellation of the water channel in the north and northeast; the covering stones were removed and were replaced with a tamped chalk surface (thickness 8 cm; Fig. 3).
Area C (Squares 18–27)
Four strata were identified, including sections of buildings that were attributed to dwellings.
Stratum IV. At least three repair phases were discerned in a white mosaic floor. Collapse that consisted of medium-sized fieldstones and gray mortar was noted along its northern edge.
Stratum III. This was the primary stratum in this area; it included mainly parts of residential buildings (Fig. 4), in which water systems, particularly for drainage, were integrated. A cache of seventy-one coins in a lump, which had apparently been wrapped in a sack, was discovered in one of the systems. The residential complex was bound on the south by a thick wall whose southern side had only survived.
Stratum II. Most of Stratum III buildings continued to exist. Three tamped chalk floors, placed on the Stratum III floors, were added.
Stratum I. Levels consisting of small stones, which were work surfaces of sorts that covered the earlier remains, were discovered throughout the area.
Area D (Squares 3–17)
Four strata were identified, including the remains of residential buildings, a workshop with storerooms, and a large water system.
Stratum IV. Only two wall foundations that probably belonged to dwellings were discovered.
Stratum III. This is the primary stratum in Area D. Installations, a water system and a dwelling, which was also used as a workshop that contained potter’s wheels, were exposed. The storerooms of a circular pottery workshop were discovered near the house. They were surrounded by small stones and contained numerous fragments of jars and cooking pots (Fig. 5); it seems that considerable damage to the storerooms was caused by their collapsed ceiling. Heaps of greenish clay, encircled by fragments of wasters, were exposed to the south of the pottery workshop.
Stratum II. Collapsed walls on a plaster floor and parts of ruinous installations were exposed.
Stratum I. A tamped layer of small stones, which was a kind of work surface similar to those found in Stratum I of Area C, was exposed. The meager finds included remains of a tabun and a jar embedded in the small-stone surface.
Area E (Squares 1, 2)
Three main strata were identified.
Stratum III. The western part of a large industrial winepress was excavated (Fig. 6); its eastern section was located beyond the excavation area, beneath the railroad tracks. Three treading floors were exposed and three collecting vats were located to their west. The treading floors and the collecting vats were paved with a white mosaic. Evidence of robber trenches indicated that the winepress had a fourth treading floor in the north.
Stratum II. The walls of the two southern collecting vats were raised, whereas the northern treading floor and collecting vat were dismantled.
Stratum I. Sections of work surfaces, built of small stones and plaster and overlaid with numerous fragments of pottery vessels, were exposed above and north of the winepress. These work surfaces cancelled the use of the winepress.
The previous excavations had indicated that the site was first settled in the fourth century CE, in the area southeast of the high tell. Practically no remains from this period were uncovered in the current excavation and it seems that only in the fifth century CE did the settlement expand into the area, which is today located west of the railroad tracks.Clermont–Ganneau had found at the site a copper bowl with relief decoration of a seven-branched candelabrum and a holy ark with a pediment, as well as a fragment of a column capital bearing a Greek inscription: “One Lord”.Based on these finds, Zvi Ilan suggested that a Samaritan synagogue existed at the site (Ancient Synagogues in Israel. Pp. 286–287 [Hebrew]).A fragment of a floor tile, decorated with a pediment on columns that resembles the one on the copper bowl, was discovered in the current excavation, and the examination of the recovered faunal remains showed that pig bones were altogether absent.Hence, it seems that the assumption of Zvi Ilan is correct.The negation of the synagogue and the church that superseded it in Stratum II indicates that the population had either been replaced or converted to Christianity. The absence of swine bones from Stratum II reinforces the assumption that the residents had converted to Christianity.
The site was largely abandoned at the beginning of the Umayyad period and most of the masonry stones were plundered.The signs of destruction and burning may point to its destruction in the earthquake of 633 CE.