‘Atiqot 71 (2012)
Khirbat Za‘kuka: An Iron Age I Site between Jerusalem and Bethlehem
Keywords: four-room house, dry farming, stone tools, sedentary population, pottery
Salvage excavations at the site exposed a pillared house, characteristic of Iron Age I settlements in the Central Hill Country. The finds indicate that the ground floor of the building was used for storage, food processing and other daily activities and the residential space was probably on the second floor. A round oil press was unearthed in the western part of the building. It is a simple, domestic installation, typical of Iron Age I. Two bell-shaped pits, hollowed in the bedrock, were apparently used to store agricultural products. Seven cisterns recorded at the site probably belonged to the settlement and should be dated to Iron Age I. The silos excavated at the site are of a type considered to be hallmarks of Iron Age I sites. The discovery of a hitherto unknown eleventh-century BCE settlement at Kh. Za‘kuka adds another dimension to distribution patterns of rural settlement in the Jerusalem area during Iron Age I and to patterns of settlement in the Central Hill Country.
A Roman-Period Farmstead at El-Qabu, South of Ashqelon
(Hebrew, pp. 1–12; English summary, p. 111*)
Keywords: coastal plain, agriculture, numismatics, coin hoard, burial, quarry
El-Qabu is a farmstead where wine was produced in the Roman period (second half of the second to the third centuries CE). Buildings arranged around a courtyard, winepresses, tabuns and vaulted tombs were exposed. Storage jars were inserted into the floors of two of the rooms—a phenomenon that was noted at other sites in the coastal plain and the Negev during the Roman and Byzantine periods, probably attesting to the function of the rooms as storerooms. Based on the latest coin (286–305 CE) recovered from the excavation, the site was abandoned at the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century CE. This is one of dozens of agricultural sites situated in the hinterland of Ashqelon, one of the major cities during this period.
The Pottery and Stone Objects from a Roman-Period Farmstead at El-Qabu, South of Ashqelon
Keywords: coastal plain, typology, art, iconography, ethnicity
The ceramic finds from the site at El-Qabu comprise for the most part locally manufactured vessels, along with a few imported wares. The repertoire includes plain-ware utilitarian vessels produced on the southern coastal plain along with imported examples of Eastern Terra Sigillata Ware (ESA) and two foreign amphorae. The pottery is exceptionally homogeneous, ranging in date from the second century to the late third and possibly the very beginning of the fourth century CE. Among the finds were a figurine (of mourning Isis?) and a disc-lamp, decorated with what was probably an erotic scene. These pagan themes seem to give some indication of the ethnicity of the inhabitants of the site.
The Glass Finds from a Roman Farmstead at El-Qabu, South of Ashqelon
Keywords: coastal plain, typology, glass production, imports, Incense Route
The site at El-Qabu yielded a small amount of glass finds, consisting of 48 fragments, of which 14 were chosen for illustration and discussion. The material was found in a very poor state of preservation; no complete vessels were discovered and none was restored. The color, fabric quality and milky weathering are characteristic of glass finds from the second–fourth centuries CE; however, finds of this glass are quite rare in the region. The assemblage of vessels consists of bowls, beakers and bottles. One adorned body fragment of a flask was found, as well as an elaborately decorated bracelet and a rare mosaic-glass inlay. These luxury items indicate that the owners of this agricultural settlement were affluent.
The Coins from a Roman-Period Farmstead at El-Qabu, South of Ashqelon
Keywords: coastal plain, numismatics, Serapis, river god Nilus, provincial mints, countermarks, currency
Fifty-seven bronze coins were found in several structures, installations and tombs at El-Qabu. Fifty-three of the coins, including a hoard of twenty-three bronzes, were identified. With the exception of two Hellenistic and three early Roman specimens, as well as a single Byzantine
(first half of the sixth century), all the isolated coins fall between the second half of the second century and the reign of Maximinian Herculius (286–305 CE). Among the early coins is a rare flan with a trapezoidal section, probably originating in Jerusalem. Another interesting and rare early find is a lead token minted under the Roman administration in Egypt in the first–second centuries CE. The hoard of 23 bronzes was found concealed in a small cavity that had been dug into a floor of beaten earth in Building 4. It consisted of a homogenous group of imperial and provincial bronzes, struck in a limited time range between the mid-second and mid-third centuries CE. The small monetary value of its contents seems to hint that it was deposited by the occupants of the structure.
Horbat ‘Illin (Upper): Rock-Cut Installations from the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Periods, and Remains of a Settlement from the Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods
(Hebrew, pp. 13–75; English summary, pp. 112*–116*)
Keywords: Judean Shephelah, burial, winepress, oil press, quarry, anthropology, glass, numismatics, loculi (kokhim) cave, ossuaries, industrial area, rural settlement
A salvage excavation conducted at Horbat ‘Illin, on a hilltop in the Judean Shephelah, revealed the remains of burial caves, cisterns and underground installations. These were quarried out and used in the Hellenistic and early Roman periods (first century BCE–second century CE), suggesting the existence of a nearby settlement from the Second Temple period that has not been excavated. Some of the installations were in use in later periods, as shown by pottery finds from the Byzantine, Umayyad and Mamluk periods. The main excavated areas were located in the center of the western slope (c. 4000 sq m), revealing the remains of a settlement from the end of the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE) until the end of the Early Islamic period (tenth century CE). The remains belong to four adjacent buildings, some of them built around central courtyards, with intervening alleys. The buildings’ abandonment should probably be attributed to the earthquake that struck extensive parts of the country in 747–749 CE. The site was abandoned at some time in the tenth century CE, and no evidence has been found of a later settlement.
The Glass Vessels from Horbat ‘Illin (Upper)
Keywords: Judean Shephelah, typology, chronology, glass production
Six hundred seventy-one glass fragments were retrieved from Horbat ‘Illin (Upper), only one-quarter of them were diagnostic. Most of the vessels were found within the settlement, and date from the Late Roman to the Abbasid periods. Several vessels, dated to the Early Roman and Byzantine periods, were unearthed in burial caves and dwelling caves, north and east of the settlement. There were also sporadic fragments from the Early Roman and Mamluk periods. Most of the vessels are free blown; one bottle is mold-blown; and two bowls are cast. The most common designs are applied trails and pinched decoration. The material provides additional data regarding local domestic ware used in agricultural settlements in the region, particularly during the Early Islamic period. The majority of these vessels were likely manufactured at nearby workshops, such as those in Jerusalem, Lod and Ramla.
The Coins from Horbat ‘Illin (Upper)
(Hebrew, pp. 77–79; English summary, p. 117*)
Keywords: Judean Shephelah, numismatics
Nineteen bronze coins and one silver coin were discovered during the excavations at Horbat ‘Illin (Upper). The earliest coin dates from the time of Alexander Jannaeus (76–79/80 BCE) and the latest, from the Mamluk period (fourteenth century CE).
A Building and an Olive Press from the Byzantine–Abbasid Periods at Khirbat el-Thahiriya
(Hebrew, pp. 81–112; English summary, pp. 118*–120*)
Elena Kogan-Zehavi and Shulamit Hadad
Keywords: cistern, mosaic floors, olive press, plaster, pool, archaeozoology, numismatics, glass
Excavations at Khirbat el-Thahiriya exposed a complex consisting of a large building, with an oil press to its northeast and an irrigation system to its west; a refuse heap; and a plastered surface. Also found were a quarry and a juglet dating to Early Bronze Age IB, not related to the other finds. The building (c. 1500 sq m) was partially exposed and three phases were identified, dating to the Byzantine (fifth–mid-seventh centuries CE; Phase 1), Umayyad (650–750 CE; Phase 2) and Abbasid (750–tenth century CE; Phase 3) periods. The three phases of the building were dated by pottery, metal finds, glassware and coins. The building appears to have originally been a monastery that was converted into a farmhouse following the Arab conquest.
The Early Islamic Glass Finds from Khirbat el-Thahiriya
Ruth E. Jackson-Tal
Keywords: glass production, typology, decoration
The glass vessels unearthed in this excavation represent well-known types of Early Islamic-period tableware—bowls, wineglasses, bottles, jars, a jug, oil lamps, alembics, a spoon and windowpanes—some plain and others decorated in various techniques. The simple vessel shapes and the considerable number of lamp bowls and windowpanes support the identification of this site as a rural public building.
The Coins from Khirbat el-Thahiriya
Keywords: numismatics, Mamluk period
Twenty-six bronze and copper coins were recovered from a large building (a farmhouse or monastery) and an adjacent olive press at Khirbat el-Thahiriya, dating to the Byzantine and Abbasid periods. The earliest datable coin is an isolated stray find of a bronze Hasmonean
, minted by Alexander Jannaeus (104–76 BCE). The majority of the coins span a relatively short period, beginning in the fifth–sixth centuries and ending in the mid-eighth century CE.
The Archaeozoological Finds from Khirbat el-Thahiriya
Keywords: archaeozoology, fauna, economy
The faunal assemblage from Khirbat el-Thahiriya is mostly domestic, attesting that the main branch of economy at this settlement was sheep/goat herding. The hen/cock category comprises an unusually high percentage of the assemblage, suggesting that these birds also played an important role in the economy of the site. The wild species comprise birds, Trigger fish, fish and mole.
Inscribed Stone Anchors from Ashqelon: Finds from Underwater Surveys
(Hebrew, pp. 113–127; English summary, pp. 121*–122*)
Ehud Galili, Gerald Finkielsztejn, Josef Ayalon and Baruch Rosen
Keywords: sea, epigraphy, Greek, tombstones
Underwater surveys near Ashqelon revealed a large number of different types of anchors, testifying to 3500 years of sea trade off the southern coast of Israel. Of the dozens of anchors found at Ashqelon, thirteen are inscribed. The large number of engraved anchors seems to derive from the region’s physical characteristics that made navigation difficult along the coastline, rendering its waters dangerous for shipping. Thus, the large number of engravings and inscriptions on the anchors was probably intended to assure the well-being of their users.
Millstones and Oil-Press Weights for Stabilizing Slipways from the Seabed Opposite Tel Ashqelon
(Hebrew, pp. 129–137; English summary, pp. 123*–124*)
Ehud Galili and Baruch Rosen
Keywords: sea, olive production, reuse, economy
Underwater surveys on the seabed near Tel Ashqelon exposed the remains of basalt hourglass millstones (“donkey” millstones), limestone oil-press weights and a round
stone. The millstones and oil-press weights were brought to the coast to be used for mooring the portable wooden winches, used to haul boats and small ships out of the water for docking and repairs. This system would have functioned between the Roman and Crusader periods, mainly during the Byzantine period, when the city of Ashqelon was a hive of economic activity.
An Engraved Carnelian Gem from Nysa-Scythopolis (Bet She’an)
Keywords: art, glyptics, intaglio, mythology, iconography
An intact carnelian gemstone was retrieved from the fill of the western therma in the Roman civic center of Nysa-Scythopolis (Bet She’an), along with an assortment of pottery and coins from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The gem, originally set in a ring, depicts Heracles in a scene of one of his labors: the overcoming of the Nemean lion. Based on its workmanship, style and provenience, it seems most likely that the gem dates to the second century CE.
A Graeco-Egyptian Amulet from Nysa-Scythopolis (Bet She’an)
Keywords: art, glyptics, mythology, iconography, linear style, epigraphy
A magical amulet was found in the Roman-Byzantine civic center of Nysa-Scythopolis (Bet She’an). It is made of cobalt glass and engraved with an intaglio design on the obverse and an incised Greek inscription on the reverse. The amulet is related to digestive healing practices that prevailed in the Graeco-Roman world. Medical amulets of this type were widespread and are generally dated to the Roman period (second–third centuries CE); however, an early Byzantine dating for similar amulets has also been suggested. It seems reasonable that magical amulets of the Graeco-Egyptian type were still in use or even newly manufactured, either in Alexandria or in Syria-Palestina, throughout the Byzantine period.
A Hydraulic Construction of the Mamluk Period at El-Madahil, Northeast of the Hula Valley
Keywords: Middle Ages, hydrology, technology, travertine, numismatics
A water-related construction from the medieval period was exposed, revealing evidence for a strong flow of water. This observation was further confirmed by the eroded edges of the potsherds uncovered in the destruction phase. It is likely that this structure operated by means of the driving force of water, which enabled the rotating movement of a vertical mechanical wheel. The large number of iron nails retrieved from the site suggests that the machinery was constructed of timber, and was destroyed or dismantled. The finds, almost exclusively pottery, point to a date in the Mamluk period (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries CE).
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