The rescue excavations undertaken south of the road Zichron Yaakov-Yokneam, ahead of the construction of an interchange with the Trans-Israel Road No. 6 was directed by this speaker and Amir Gorzelczany, from the end of February to mid-July 2005.
Two main levels were uncovered: a Late Iron Age II settlement – presented here by A. Gorzelczany – and an Early Roman agricultural settlement, presented in what follows. In addition, several Muslim tombs – most probably of the Mameluk period – were dug in the covered ruins of the earlier periods.
The excavated site represents only the northern part (half or more) of the whole Early Roman settlement as is evidenced by surface remains on the hill. The uncovered settlement may be divided in four building areas:
Area R1 – in the centre and south, was built above the remains of the Iron Age and even integrated some earlier walls and reused the plan of some earlier rooms;
Area R2 – to the east, where only two elongated buildings were inserted along a long wall of the Iron Age; they were connected by a corridor to an empty somehow fenced area to the north;
Area R3 – to the north, was fully built in the Early Roman period, abutting to the northern limit of Area R1; a network of rooms, with their sills on the bedrock, surrounded a central courtyard and it integrated an isolated Iron Age (?) building to the north-eastern corner of the settlement;
Area R4 – to the east, includes a large public mikveh; the structures there were set much higher than the rest of the buildings on a thick layer of debris – a s evidences by several door-sills – and the transition with R1 and R3 is still unclear (no staircases were uncovered).
In addition, a contemporary tomb was quarried in the bedrock to the north-west of the settlement. To the north, bedrock steps with poor remains of one course of (probably) terrace walls were detected in hand-made probes. They most probably extended in an area of bulldozer-made probe trenches.
The finds – such as “Herodian” lamps and glass fragments – are evidence for a relatively short life span for the settlement, from the end of the 1st c. BCE to the middle of the 1st c. CE. Many fragments of basalt grinding stones were scattered on the site. The poor state of preservation of the pottery – comprising mainly remains of both northern, coastal Phoenician and Judean bag-shaped jars, and relatively little domestic vessels – is evidence for an organized abandonment of the site. However, the latter may not have been done in quiet conditions as three complete iron keys were retrieved. Very few coins were uncovered, the earliest dating in Janneus reign and in the time of the Herodian dynasty. Only a handful of fragments of limestone vessels were found in this, obviously Jewish settlement. Agricultural installations (such as presses) were not found in the excavated area. It is surmised that the settlement was initiated by the creation of nearby Cesarea – as a relay to gather basic foods, such as wine and oil, and may be to cultivate cereals. It may have been evacuated during the first years of the Great Revolt against Rome.
A handful of pottery and glass fragments, as well as a few coins dating later in the Roman period do not indicate a significant occupation of the site at that time.
Refuses of fragments of Mameluk pottery were found to the south-westernmost part of the site, not connected to any building. The latter (a farm?) may have been situated more to the south. A dozen Muslim tombs were roughly aligned far away from the refuses, to the east. On the basis of these data – and the comparison with similarly built burials excavated twelve years ago in Nahal Haggit, across the road from our site – the tombs were assigned to the Mameluk period. Thanks to the location of two of them to the northern edge of the site, the latter shall be almost completely preserved.