The Southern Section. The excavation unearthed a room (L500; Fig. 3), rectangular-like in shaped, whose walls (W1, W2, W4, W8) were built in a variety of building methods. Wall 8 (width 1.2 m), the outer southern wall of the synagogue that had already been unearthed in Kloner’s excavation, is more massive than the others; it is built of two rows of roughly dressed medium–large stones, with a core of small fieldstones. Wall 2, which abuts W8, is built of two faces of medium-sized, roughly hewn and dressed stones, with a core of small fieldstones. The north face of W1 was built of roughly hewn stones larger than those of W2, with smaller stones, some of which are fieldstones, to its south. Wall 4 was built mainly of roughly hewn medium–large stones. An entrance with a stone threshold (0.75 m wide) leading to another room was set mid-length along the wall. Walls 1, 2 and 4 are of the same width (0.65 m). In the southeast corner of the room, adjacent to Walls 4 and 8 was an installation (L505) delineated by a curved wall (W6). It contained traces of soot, suggesting that it was used for cooking or for some other purpose involving fire. The excavation was halted upon reaching a collapse level that was rich in fragments of jars and roof tiles (tegulae and imbrices); the floor was not uncovered, but it seems to be lower than the entrance threshold. Based on data from the previous excavations in the structure (Kloner, pers. comm.), this room should be associated with the seventh-century CE construction phase. The installation, however, should be ascribed to a later phase, in the eighth century CE, providing evidence of secondary use of this space in the Early Islamic period, when the synagogue no longer served its original purpose.
A wall (W3; Fig. 4) was unearthed along the southern part of W4, adjacent to its eastern face. Wall 3 was built of an eastern row of roughly hewn medium-sized stones, with small fieldstones to its west. The wall is probably a later addition to W4, but it is difficult to determine its function. It may be related to a water cistern located c. 1.3 m to its northeast and could have served as a work surface or a bench. To the north of Room 501 was a passageway (L501) flanked by two walls (W1, W7), which connected the rooms in the southwest corner of the synagogue with the eastern area. The excavation halted upon reaching collapses (Fig. 5), without reaching the floor. Wall 3 and the collapses found in Passageway 501 are attributed to the building’s later, seventh-century CE phase.
The East Section. Two adjacent rooms (L502, L506) were excavated to the north of the synagogue’s entrance. Two walls of Room 506 (W9, W10) had been already encountered in Kloner’s excavation. Wall 9 was built of two rows of roughly hewn and dressed medium–large stones, with a core of small–medium stones. Wall 10, to its north, is also massive, but less carefully built, consisting of a mixture of fieldstones and roughly hewn medium–large stones. The room’s inner wall (W11) is built of a single row of roughly hewn, medium-sized stones and small stones. An entrance with a stone threshold was discovered in the southern wall (W12) of Room 506; the room was probably accessed via the synagogue’s entrance steps (Fig. 6). The fills excavated within the room seem to have been below the floor level. This is suggested by the absence of any step north of the threshold—which would have indicated that the floor of the room was at a lower level—and by what seems as an earlier wall or foundation (W20), which was unearthed beneath W10. Room 502 was not excavated to any significant depth; it was only leveled, and the faces of its walls were cleaned. No entrance to the room was identified, indicating that the two rooms were built at a higher level than the surrounding ground surface. Based on the conclusions of the previous excavation, these rooms should be ascribed to the sixth and seventh centuries CE.
Part of an area that had not been previously excavated was unearthed to the south of the entrance to the synagogue compound (Fig. 2; marked with a red rectangle). It yielded the continuation of the synagogue’s eastern wall (W18). The wall was built of roughly hewn medium and large stones with a core of small and medium-sized fieldstones. In most of the excavated area, the east face of the wall had been robbed, leaving behind a robbers’ trench (L512). To the west of the wall and perpendicular to it, traces of walls (W21, W22) attest to rooms in the eastern part of the synagogue. Due to the limitations of the excavation, the continuation of the walls and the floor were not uncovered, and the excavation halted at a layer of collapse (L516) containing architectural elements, such as columns, capitals and column bases.
A wall (W19; Figs. 2: Section 1–1; 7) unearthed along the west face of W18 was built of a western face of medium–large, roughly hewn stones, with small fieldstones to its east. Unlike the other walls of the synagogue, the construction of W19 was not uniform and; it was founded on an accumulation of soil, whose base was higher than the top of W22, which was uncovered to its west (Fig. 8). Wall 19 is no doubt later than W18, but it is difficult to determine its function as only a single course was preserved (0.4 m). It probably continued northward but was excavated and dismantled in previous excavations. The wall does continue southward, and it appears to be associated with the later walls built in the southeast corner of the synagogue, probably during the Early Islamic period.
A layer of collapse (L511) was found to the west of W19; it appears to be related to construction from the Early Islamic period (eighth century CE) above the collapse layer in the synagogue (L516). No floor was found beneath the later collapse (L511), and only a layer of fill separated it from Collapse 516. Collapse 511 yielded potsherds from the Early Islamic period: cups (Fig. 9:1, 2), bowls (Fig. 9:3, 4), a krater (Fig. 9:5), a casserole (Fig. 9:6), cooking jugs (Fig. 9:7, 8), a lid (Fig. 9:9), jars (Fig. 10:1–5) and roof tiles (Fig. 10:6, 7).
The excavation, which accompanied the conservation work at the site, dealt mainly with clearing the synagogue’s rooms and creating leveled surfaces within them prior to opening the site to the public. The excavation did not aim at reaching down to the original floors of the synagogue; it was thus confined to the fills from the Early Islamic period from and between the collapses within the rooms. Nevertheless, several walls were unearthed.
A segment of the building’s eastern wall that had not previously been excavated (W18) was uncovered in the eastern part of the synagogue, as well as several east–west walls that probably delineated rooms in this part of the synagogue. A later wall, built above these remains and along W18, appears to be connected to the later walls in the southeast corner of the synagogue.