Area A
The remains of the three buildings from the Ottoman period consisted of wall foundations and vestiges of crushed-limestone floors (A3; Fig. 2). Beneath these remains and throughout the remainder of the area was a Mamluk-period cemetery, in which 90 graves were identified. The cemetery was excavated only along the strip where the gas pipeline was to be laid, but it extends over a larger area. The excavation revealed that the cemetery had two parts, c. 25 m apart of each other, and no tombs were found between them.
Six types of tomb were identified (A–F):
Type A. Field burial: a pit dug in the ground. Burials of this type were found in the spaces between the Type-B and Type-C tombs (below) and sometimes on above them.
Type B. Pit graves covered with stone slabs (Fig. 3): a dug in the ground and covered with coarsely dressed stones supported by the walls of the pit.
Type C. Cist tombs (Fig. 4): a pit whose walls were lined with smoothed stones placed on their sides; the tomb was then covered with smoothed stones supported by the built walls.
Type D. A stone-lined pit grave without covering stones (Fig. 5): a pit whose sides were lined with fieldstones or stone slabs placed on their sides, without a tomb covering.
Type E. A stone-lined pit grave covered with jars (Fig. 6): a pit whose walls were lined with smoothed stones placed on their sides; the tomb was covered with one or two rows of jars placed on their sides, instead of covering the burial with stones.
Type F. Burial in jars (Fig. 7): jars whose bases had been removed that served for the burial of babies, either inside a single jar or inside two jars, one fitted inside the other. Burials of this type were dispersed the other tombs.
In most of the tombs, the deceased were placed in an east–west direction, on their back or side and with their head facing south.
Tombs were found at three levels; most were discovered 0.5–0.7 m below the surface level, and a few were at a depth of 0.9–1.0 m. Several were dug along a north–south orientation with the skull of the interred facing east; these tombs were built above the previous burials. Some tombs contained more than one individual.
Anthropological Finds. Preliminary analysis of the individuals found in the tombs attests to a population consisting of adults and children, in which both sexes are represented with similar frequency, probably the population of the nearby village of Jindas. The high incidence of infant mortality is indicative of the rural living conditions prior to the advent of modern medicine, at a time when children and infants made up nearly 40 percent of the total population (Ubelaker 1974). The interred were placed on their back or on their right side with the legs in the east and the head in the west, facing south. Gorzalczany (2007:79) notes that although the tradition of turning the head southward toward Mecca is well-established in Islam, an examination of Muslim cemeteries shows that not all those interred face in exactly the same direction. The direction was determined by the position of the sun at sunrise or sunset, and since that position varies according to the season, it affected the direction in which the tombs were dug, leading to slight deviations (Gorzalczany 2007:71).
Grave goods in Muslim tombs from the Late Islamic period are quite common, despite their prohibition in Islam (Toombs 1985:42–43). Grave goods have been found in Early Islamic cemeteries excavated at Tel Zeror (Ohata 1967:3), Horbat Zarnuqa (Ajami 2007) and elsewhere. Jewelry was found in all the tombs where the interred were identified as female. These included glass and bronze bracelets, glass pendants and colored stone beads, necklaces made of obsolete coins in secondary use placed around the head or chest, earrings and rings. The beads were made of colored stones and each color was associated with an attribute that would protect the deceased (Simpson 1995:246, Note 133). Small perfume bottles were found beneath the skull in some of the tombs. A knife was retrieved from one tomb. The Type-E tombs are of particular interest. In Israel, burials of this type have been found only at a few Mamluk-period cemeteries, such as the cemetery at Ge’alya near Yavne (Gorzalczany 2016).
Area B
Architectural remains from the Ottoman period were encountered near the surface. Below these remains, the excavation uncovered part of a built channel dated to the Abbasid period and a refuse pit containing Byzantine and Early Islamic potsherds, as well as several human bones.
Area C
A single course of a field wall (W111; Fig. 8) built of fieldstones and abutted on the east by a bedding of crushed chalk (L116); it may have served as a dam across a nearby streambed.
Most of the finds belonged to a Muslim cemetery from the Mamluk period that was probably used by the population of the village of Jindas. Grave goods were found in the tombs of females, especially young girls, despite the prohibition of such a practice in Islam. Six types of tomb were found in the excavation, the most notable being those covered with jars—a type that has been previously found in only a few cemeteries from the Mamluk period. Among the vessels used to cover the tombs, both in the Jindas cemetery and the cemetery at Ge’alya, were jars, beehive containers and saqiye jars (Gorzalczany 2016:102).
The excavation retrieved 17 coins, of which two were not identified. Eleven coins were recovered from six of the tombs, all of which were female burials where they were found converted into jewelry in secondary use. Six of the coins date from the Mamluk period. One of the tombs contained a coin minted in the fifteenth century in Venice.