During August 2010, a trial excavation was conducted in Ramat Yishay (Permit No. A-5997; map ref. 216196–235/734499–540), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ramat Yishay Local Council, was directed by B. Hanna(field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration) and R. Mishayev and M. Cohen (surveying and drafting).
The excavation (c. 16 sq m) was carried out on the southern fringes of the hill, where the older part of Ramat Yishay is built (Fig. 1). Architectural remains that consist of three settlement strata, dating to the Byzantine period (Stratum VI; Figs 2, 3), Abbasid period (Stratum IV) and Crusader–Mamluk period (Strata III–II), were discovered.
A survey and numerous excavations in the vicinity revealed extensive settlement remains that ranged in date from the Roman until the Ottoman periods (Map of Nahalal , Site 48; HA-ESI 124).
Stratum VI. A corner of an architectural unit that consisted of two walls (W12, W13) and an adjoining floor (L106) were exposed. The walls, founded on soil fill deposited on the bedrock and built of limestone ashlars, were preserved a single course high. The two walls continued beyond the limits of the excavation. Floor 106 was founded on the bedrock and consisted of crushed chalk mixed with small fieldstones and potsherds from the Byzantine period. A cistern was discovered below the floor; its bottom part was rock-hewn and its upper part was built of stones (L107; exposed depth 1.3 m). It seems that the cistern’s opening was integrated in the floor of the unit. A rock-cut drainage channel (L112; width 0.3 m, height 0.5 m) aligned east–west led to the cistern. The channel was coated with hydraulic plaster and covered with stones slabs (Fig. 4); the floor of the unit was placed above the stone slabs. Another channel (L113), built at a lower level, was discovered east of and parallel to Channel 112. Both channels were constructed in an identical manner. Channel 113 might have been used to remove excess water from the cistern. Soil fill that contained Byzantine-period potsherds (fifth–sixth centuries CE) was discovered above the floor.
Stratum IV. Two parallel walls (W11, W14) and sections of a floor (L104, L108) that abutted them were exposed. The two walls were built of ashlars above the remains of Stratum VI. Wall 11 was preserved three courses high, whereas W14 survived to a single course high. Both walls extended beyond the limits of the excavation. The floor consisted of tamped earth and crushed chalk, mixed with small stones, stream pebbles and a large quantity of potsherds from the Byzantine, Umayyad and Abbasid periods (tenth century CE).
Strata III-II. A wall (W10) and remains of an adjoining floor (L100) were exposed. The wall was built of two rows of large well-dressed limestone founded on the remains of Stratum IV. The floor was tamped earth mixed with small stones and potsherds from the Crusader and Mamluk periods (twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE).
The results of the excavation indicate that the center of the Ramat Yishay antiquities site was densely inhabited in the Byzantine, Early Islamic, Crusader and Mamluk periods.