During December 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted at Binyamina (Permit No. A-5556; map ref. 194667–709/714587–626), in the wake of discovering ancient remains prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by N. Baranes and U. Alon, was directed by A.S. Sa‘id (photography), with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), P. Gendelman (ceramics), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and R. Kool (numismatics).
The excavation area was located on the northeastern fringes of the Giv‘at Ha-Po‘alim site. Two excavation squares (1, 2; Fig. 1) were opened and a rectangular rock-cutting was discovered along with ceramics, glass finds and coins, dating to the Late Roman and the beginning of the Byzantine periods.
A previous excavation at the site, c. 5 m southeast of the current excavation area, revealed a mausoleum that dated to the Roman period (HA-ESI 121
). Building remains, stone quarries and built and hewn tombs from the Roman and Byzantine periods had been exposed at the site (ESI
10:168, 16:69, 19:110*).
Square 1. A layer of hamra fill (L11; depth 1 m), which was placed on bedrock and contained fragments of bowls (Fig. 2:1) and amphorae (Fig. 2:8) dating to the Late Roman period, was excavated.
Square 2. A rectangular rock-cutting (Fig. 3) that extended beyond the boundaries of the excavation (L12, L15) was exposed. A fill of sandy soil in the area of the rock-cutting contained potsherds, fragments of glass vessels and coins. The ceramic finds included cooking pots (Fig. 3:2, 3), a saqiye jar (Fig. 3:4), baggy-shaped jars (Fig. 3:5, 6), a Gaza jar (Fig. 3:7) and an amphora handle (Fig. 3:9), all dating from the second to the seventh centuries CE. The glass finds included fragments of at least twenty vessels that dated to the second half of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth centuries CE. These included bowls with out-folded hollowed rims; bowls with a flaring rim and a double fold below it; bowls with a thickened horizontal ridge below the rim; hollowed base rings of bowls; beakers with a solid base that are decorated with a trail beneath the rim, and a plain concave bottle base. These types are well-known from the workshops at Jalame that produced glass vessels in this period (D.G. Weinberg 1988. ed. Excavation at Jalame: Site of a Glass Factory in Late Roman Palestine. University of Missouri, Colombia) and from Khirbat el-Ni‘ana (‘Atiqot 57:73–154). Five small bronze coins (IAA 122007–122011) are dated to the middle of the fourth century CE (341–375 CE), to the reigns of the emperors Constantius II and Valentinian I.
The rectangular rock-cutting may be connected to the mausoleum that was exposed nearby and it may possibly be part of the entrance to a hewn burial cave that is located beyond the limits of the excavation area.