The current excavation was conducted along a limestone slope that descends from south to north.
A single square (Fig. 1) was excavated and a layer of brown soil was exposed; beneath the soil were seven or eight tombs on the limestone bedrock (Fig. 2), including built cist graves (1, 4), rock-hewn tombs covered with stone slabs (3, 6), a tomb on top of bedrock (2) and tombs of unclear plan (5, 7, 8).
A small number of potsherds and fragments of glass vessels (below), dating to the Roman period (first–fourth centuries CE; Fig. 3), were found in the entire excavation area. The ceramic finds included bowls (Fig. 3:1–6), a cooking pot (Fig. 3:7) and jars (Fig. 3:8–10). No later finds were discovered and in addition to the Roman-period potsherds, a few fragments from the Early Bronze Age were found.
Tomb 1. A cist grave (1.04 × 2.40 m; interior dimensions 0.45 × 1.83 m) built of basalt ashlars and covered with a flat stone and a basalt slab (Fig. 4); it is oriented east–west.
Tomb 2. Several bones lying on the bedrock. The excavation was suspended before the grave was completely exposed.
Tomb 3. A rectangular tomb hewn in the limestone bedrock (1.1 × 1.8 m) and oriented north–south. Two stones from the roof of the tomb remained in situ and another roof stone was found nearby.
Tomb 4. A cist tomb built of basalt stones and oriented east–west; however, its complete plan is unclear.
Tomb 5. A cluster of basalt stones was discovered in the corner of the excavation. It seems that they were part of a tomb that was not exposed.
Tomb 6. A rock-hewn tomb, oriented north–south. Several of the stones that covered the tomb had survived, but the tomb itself was not excavated.
Tomb 7. Several bones were exposed in the corner of the excavation, probably part of a grave, whose excavation was suspended.
Tomb 8. Remains of a rock-cutting, probably that of a destroyed tomb, were found in the southeastern corner of the excavation.
The Glass Finds
One basket, consisting of four diagnostic fragments and several body fragments, was found in the excavation (Fig. 3). The diagnostic fragments are two rims and two bases belonging to bowls. It is possible that these fragments are parts of just two bowls (Fig. 3:11, 12); however, since the fragments do not join, they may belong to three or four different vessels. An everted bowl rim (Fig. 3:11), out-folded and hollow, is made of pale greenish glass and covered with brown silvery weathering. A hollow base ring (Fig. 3:11) is made of glass similar to that of the rim and covered with the same weathering. The glass is of good quality and the workmanship is delicate. Based on the relation between the rim and the base and the similarity of their color and weathering, they probably belong to a single bowl.
An everted and almost flat rim (Fig. 3:12) is part of a shallow bowl or large plate. The edge of the rim is rounded. A raised hollow base ring (Fig. 3:12) has a flat bottom that is thickened in the center. Both fragments are pale green.
These two types of bowls, dating from the second until the fourth centuries CE, are known from funerary assemblages in the Galilee and other regions.
Part of a cemetery from the Roman period (first–fourth centuries CE) was discovered in the excavation. The tombs are diverse and include a simple tomb on top of bedrock, rock-hewn tombs that are covered and built cist graves. No uniform orientation or planning of the graves’ location was discerned. It is not possible to determine from the finds if the settlement that used the cemetery was Jewish or gentile, but a comparison of its dating with that of settlements located in the Nahal Duga basin (Samakh) and the stone artifacts in some of these settlements that were discovered in a survey (G-88/2007) suggests that the settlements in the Nahal Duga basin and the settlement at Khirbat Ta‘ena were Jewish. The settlements in the Nahal Duga basin were destroyed by an earthquake that struck in 363 CE and were never rebuilt. The settlement at Khirbat Ta‘ena had no longer existed after the fourth century CE, in all likelihood due to the same earthquake.
The residents of the farm that was established north of the spring in the Byzantine period were almost certainly not Jewish based on the pig bones discovered in Y. Hirschfeld’s excavation; therefore, the farm cannot be considered as a continuation of the settlement that was destroyed in the fourth century CE.