Three settlement strata were exposed in the current excavation: the Hellenistic period (III), Early Roman period (II) and Early Islamic period (I); remains of a dwelling complex and installations were discovered (Fig. 2). Fragments of pottery vessels, dating to Iron Age II and the Late Roman and Byzantine periods, were found. Most of the architectural remains in the excavation date to the time of the Great Revolt (66–73 CE). Four cisterns were documented during the excavation on the hill. While digging trial trenches and exposing the bedrock north and east of the excavation area, remains of various rock-cuttings were discerned. The excavation area was leveled by mechanical equipment and therefore the remains at the site are poorly preserved, particularly in the upper strata on the hill.   
Stratum III
Squares D3–4. An installation (L87; diam. 1 m) enclosed by a wall (W114) built of medium-sized fieldstones was exposed. A shallow channel apparently led from the northwest to the installation; medium fieldstones and plaster fragments were all that remained of the channel. The bottom of the installation (L89) and the channel were plastered with dark mortar. A cooking pot (Fig. 3:11) that dates from the mid-second to the mid-first centuries BCE was discovered on the bottom of the installation, and the fill inside yielded a bowl (Fig. 3:7) and a cooking pot (Fig. 3:9) that date to the Hellenistic period and jars (Fig. 3:5, 6) from the fifth–third centuries BCE. On the basis of the ceramic finds, the construction and use of the installation should be dated to the second century BCE. Part of a room (a building?) hewn in bedrock (L42) was exposed just south of the installation. The floor (L43) in the room consisted of tamped earth and crushed chalk; it was 0.3–0.4 m lower than the bedrock level and abutted the sides of the bedrock. A coin minted in ‘Akko during the reign of Antiochus IV and dating to the years 173/2–168 BCE (IAA 140984), was discovered in the soil fill (thickness 0.1 m) beneath the floor. Rock-hewn structures with similar floors were also exposed in an adjacent excavation (Permit No. A-4769).
Squares B/C-9/10. A floor composed of a mixture of small stones, tamped earth and crushed limestone (L100; c. 20 sq m) was exposed; it was placed on a bedrock outcrop and was probably meant to fill holes and pits in the bedrock so as to create a leveled work surface. Fragments of store jars from the Late Persian period (Fig. 3:3) and the Hellenistic period (Fig. 3:12) were discovered on the floor. The mixed fill discovered in these squares included fragments of pottery vessels from the Hellenistic period, among them a jar fragment (Fig. 3:15).
Mixed fill containing ceramic finds from the Hellenistic period was discovered in other squares: in Square D6—fragments of a cooking pot (Fig. 3:8) and a jar (Fig. 3:14); in Squares C3/4—fragments of a cooking pot (Fig. 3:10), a jar (Fig. 3:13) and an amphora (Fig. 3:16) that date to the Hellenistic period.
Stratum II
Construction at the site reached its zenith in the Early Roman period and utilized the architectural remains from the Hellenistic period. A wall (W18; length c. 25 m) was exposed throughout most of the excavation area; it was built in a general north–south direction and was flanked on both its sides with rooms and walls delimiting spaces. All of the walls (W17, W 21, W30, W38, W40, W55, W57, W58, W64, W94, W115) were built on the bedrock of one row of large roughly hewn stones, sometimes inside shallow rock-cut foundation channels, e.g., W30, W58. At the base of several walls (W21, W40, W64), the hewn sides of the rock were used as part of the wall’s foundation. Wall 18 was abutted by two floors (L112, L113) of small stones and crushed chalk. In Squares C3–5, west of W18, a complex of two adjacent rooms and a courtyard was exposed (Fig. 4). The southern room was delimited by Walls 64 and 94 and its gray floor (L118) was composed of ash, plaster and tamped soil. The northern room was enclosed by Walls 57 and 94 and two construction phases were identified in it. The entire room was plastered in the early phase and in the later phase, a partition wall was built in the middle of the room (W95), dividing it into two parts. The northern part of the room, including the partition wall and the interior surface of the walls and the floor (L117), was re-plastered with a uniform layer of hydraulic plaster (thickness 1 cm). One of the building stones in W94 was removed to create a passage between the two rooms; where the passage was installed, the plaster floor (L116) was re-plastered and plaster was also applied to the stone sides that faced the passage. Wall 64 delimited the two rooms from the south and the area south of it was used as a courtyard, which was enclosed from the east by Wall 21. In the western part of the courtyard were two flagstone floors, one above the other (L108, L119; Fig. 5) and a bell-shaped cistern hewn in the bedrock (L109). The cistern opening was round and fitted by means of quarrying to accept a cover. A small winepress was exposed in the southeastern corner of the courtyard (Sq D2). All that remained of it was a treading floor built of roughly hewn limestone and paved with a white mosaic (L63). It seems that the collecting vat was hewn north of the treading floor, but it was destroyed when a limekiln was built in Stratum I (L27; below). The ceramic finds, discovered mainly in the soil fill between the walls, are characteristic of the time of the Great Revolt and include a bowl (Fig. 6:1), cooking pots (Fig. 6:2–12), jars (Fig. 6:13–27), an amphora (Fig. 6:28), jugs (Fig. 6:29, 30), perfume juglets (Fig. 6:31, 32), a flask (Fig. 6:33), and a fragment of a lamp (Fig. 6:34).
Stratum I
A round limekiln (L27; diam. 2.5 m, depth 3 m) was exposed in Sq D2, in the southern part of the excavation area; it severed the winepress of Stratum II (Fig. 7). The northern part of the kiln was hewn in the bedrock, possibly utilizing the collecting vat of the winepress. The southern part of the kiln was built of dressed limestone that was probably dismantled from ancient buildings. The upper part of the kiln had collapsed inward. Potsherds discovered inside the kiln included a Gaza jar (Fig. 8:11) of the sixth–seventh centuries CE and a jar (Fig. 8:14) from the Crusader period (twelfth–fourteenth centuries CE). Around the kiln was a straight white level of small stones and lime from inside the kiln (L22), which was dated on the basis of the ceramic finds, to the Early Islamic period. The level abutted a cracked nether stone (yam) of an olive press (L1) in secondary use. Large fragments of the upper stone (memmel) of the olive press were incorporated in secondary use in Level 22; on one of these fragments were two hewn crosses (Fig. 9), one was a plain cross and the other—a Byzantine cross with a triangular end that symbolizes Golgotha. A bronze coin from the Umayyad period (post reform) was discovered on the surface of the excavation area; it had been struck at the Ramla mint and was used from 667–750 CE (IAA 140985).
The water supply to the settlement on the hill was based on rock-hewn cisterns. So far, thirty-seven cisterns have been identified on the hilltop, including twenty-seven cisterns that had previously been documented east of the excavation area (ESI 16:69, Fig. 131), five cisterns that been documented north of the excavation area (Permit No. A-4769), one cistern that was identified recently while overseeing development work in the vicinity of the hilltop and four more cisterns that were documented in the current excavation. A bell-shaped hewn cistern (L60) was discerned in Sq B9; it has a round opening (diam. 0.8 m) that was fitted with a circular capstone. A cistern (L12) documented in Sq F6 has two round openings (diam. of northern opening 1 m; diam. of southern opening 0.5 m). A rectangular trough (L32) was hewn in the bedrock west of the cistern opening. A cistern (L122) with a round opening (diam. c. 1 m) was exposed in Sq F3 while excavating trial trenches and the fourth cistern (L109; above, Stratum II) was discovered in the area of the courtyard in Sq C3.
The Pottery Finds
Peter Gendelman
Numerous pottery fragments were recovered from the excavation, dating to the various periods at which the site was occupied and active.
Late Iron Age and the Persian Period
Fig. No.
Bowl, open with red wash on rim
Ninth–seventh centuries BCE
Storage jars with a short neck and a folded rim
Fifth–third centuries BCE
Hellenistic Period
Bowl, hemispherical and slipped, common throughout the country
The Hellenistic period
3:8, 9
Globular cooking pot with cylindrical neck and triangular sharp rim
Second half of fourth–late second centuries BCE
3:10, 11
Cooking pot with a wide mouth
Mid second–mid first centuries BCE
Storage jar with thickened rim
Third–second centuries BCE
Storage jar with thickened rim
Second century BCE
3:14, 15
Storage jar with ridged neck
Mid second–mid first centuries BCE
Amphora, imported
Second century BCE
Table jug with a high neck
Mid second–mid first centuries BCE
Early Roman Period
First century BCE–first century CE
Cooking jug with flanged rim
First century BCE–first century CE
6:3, 4
Judean globular cooking pots
Late first century BCE–early second century CE
Globular cooking pot with folded rim
Late first century BCE–early second century CE
Carinated cooking pot with wide mouth and triangular rim
Late first century BCE–first century CE
Storage jars, bag-shaped, splayed rim
Late first century BCE–first century CE
Storage jars, bag-shaped, triangular rim
Late first century BCE–first century CE
Imported amphora, base fragment
6:29, 30
Table jugs
First century BCE–first century CE
6:31, 32
Perfume juglets
Late first century BCE–early second century CE
Pilgrim flask
Late first century BCE–first century CE
Oil lamp, wheel-thrown
Late first century BCE–early first century CE
Middle Roman Period
8:1, 2
Wide bowl with rilled rim
Second–fourth centuries CE
Wide mouth cooking pot
Second–fourth centuries CE
Byzantine Period
Bowl, Phocean Red Slip Ware, Hayes, Form 3F
Sixth century CE
Bag-shaped storage jars made of coastal clay
Sixth–seventh centuries CE
Bag-shaped storage jars, typical of Judean production
Fifth–sixth centuries CE
Torpedo-shaped Gazah storage jar
Sixth-saeventh centuries CE
Small juglet, base fragment
Early Islamic and Medieval Periods
Zir—globular storage jar
Seventh–eighth centuries CE
Storage jar with funnel-shaped rim
Twelfth–fourteenth centuries CE
Pilgrim flask
Late sixth–eighth centuries CE
The small number of potsherds from the Late Iron Age and the Persian period, although not associated with any architectural remains, clearly indicates that remains of an early settlement are hidden somewhere in the environs of the site.
The pottery associated with Stratum III displays well-known and common shapes from sites of the Judean Hills and Shephelah and may point to a Judean connection of the local population already in the second half of the second century BCE. However, the findings of imported amphorae may indicate a rather prosperous community.
The pottery vessels of the Early Roman period (Stratum II) form the majority of pottery findings at the site. The pottery assemblage, together with the architectural remains (ritual bath) and stone vessels clearly indicate the Jewish origin of the residents and includes pottery that seems to have been brought from Jerusalem. In general, the pottery assemblage could provide the date of the First Jewish Revolt (66–73 CE) as the terminal point of Stratum II, although some pottery types may exist until the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–136 CE).
A fair amount of the pottery is dated to the Mid-Roman (second–fourth centuries CE), Byzantine (sixth–seventh centuries CE), Early Islamic (Stratum I) and the Medieval periods, indicating the continuous occupation of this area.
Settlement remains from the Hellenistic, Early Roman and Early Islamic periods were discovered in the excavation. The remains from the Hellenistic period were meager, but similar to contemporary remains from previous excavations, among them rock-hewn buildings that have sunken floors of tamped earth and crushed chalk (Permit No. A- 5942). The results of the excavation are insufficient to link the end of the Hellenistic period at the site to a violent event, as was done in the excavation conducted c. 150 m north of here (Permit No. A-4769), where a burnt layer that was dated to the beginning of the Hellenistic period, on the basis of coins, was exposed.
The finds from the excavation show that the main settlement in this part of the site was in the Early Roman period (66–73 CE). It seems that it was a Jewish settlement because fragments of stone measuring cups were discovered on the surface of the excavation area, as well as in previous excavations nearby. Burial caves, an olive press and a ritual bath (miqwe) from this period had previously been excavated on the hilltop east of the settlement area (Permit No. A-5316). It seems that the upper and lower stones discovered in secondary use near the limekiln of Stratum I originally belonged to the olive press from the Early Roman period that was discovered in the past on the hilltop. The site was abandoned close to the time of the Great Revolt and was resettled in the Byzantine period. Only fragments of Byzantine-period pottery vessels were discovered in the excavation, including a RSW bowl (Fig. 8:4), jars (Fig. 8:5–10) and the base of a juglet (Fig. 8:12). Settlement remains from the Byzantine period were also discovered in previous excavations conducted on the hill.
A limekiln ascribed to the Early Islamic period was exposed. Building stones and architectural elements from the ancient buildings were used in the process of preparing the lime. Two olive presses dating to the Early Islamic period were previously exposed nearby (ESI 16:69–71).