In April 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted in Modi‘in, west of Horbat Tittora (Permit No. A-6756; map ref. 200212–480/645545–811), prior to development. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Modi‘in municipality, was directed by A.S. Tendler, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. Peretz (field photography), and M. Kunin (surveying).
The excavation was carried out between the streets Yigael Yadin, ‘Emeq Zevulon, Haim Bar Lev and Moshe Dayan (Fig. 1), after ancient remains were identified by Y. Elisha during preliminary inspections. The excavation was located west of Horbat Tittora, where numerous remains dating from the Chalcolithic to the Ottoman period were discovered north of the site, and above Nahal ‘Anava, where a cave containing an olive press and an ashlar-built structure from the Byzantine period and an
Early Islamic farmhouse were recently uncovered (Permit No. A-6470). A previously
Early Islamic excavation in the area documented field towers and rock-hewn basins (Kogan-Zehavi 2005: Area G). In the current excavations, a field wall was documented and a field tower was cleaned.
Field Wall. The wall (W1; exposed length c. 22 m; Fig. 2), which was preserved to a height of two courses, was built of fieldstones of various sizes placed directly on a high bedrock outcrop. The wall extended north, beneath piles of modern construction debris that are scattered in the area.
Field Tower. The tower, founded on top of a relatively high limestone outcrop, was rectangular (3.5 × 6.5 m; Figs. 3, 4) and built of roughly hewn stones. The exterior face of its enclosing walls was built of large, roughly-hewn stones, whereas the interior face was built of small, roughly-hewn stones. A thin layer of white plaster survived on the interior face of the southern (W5) and eastern (W6) walls. Large quantities of stones were piled up around the tower, apparently in a later period. The stone clearance adjacent to the eastern wall was removed in the excavation in order to expose the original outline of the tower.
An enclosed courtyard was exposed east of the tower. It seems that only its southern wall (W2) survived. It was built of medium- and large-sized, roughly-hewn stones, and bonded with the southern wall of the field tower.
Immediately to the west of the tower was a circular structure, possibly a storeroom. When the field tower was previously documented (Kogan-Zehavi 2005: Fig. 8), the entire circle of the structure was visible, but since then it has collapsed. A rectangular collecting vat (L102; 0.7 × 1.0 m, depth c. 0.3 m) with a round sump (depth c. 0.1 m) at its bottom was uncovered slightly west of the tower. Another round depression was observed in the bedrock above and to the east of the vat. This was apparently a small winepress, comprising a bedrock surface that served as a treading floor and a collecting vat to its north. The winepress was probably used by the workers in the field to produce small amounts of must.
Many similar field towers were found in the vicinity. It is generally believed that these towers were used in vineyards to provide a cool storage area for the grapes and must, to store tools and to shelter the vineyard’s guards (Dar 1982:174–175). The tower that was documented in the current excavation clearly illustrates the biblical description in the Parable of the Vineyard (Isaiah 5:1–2): “My beloved had a vineyard on a fruitful hill. He broke the ground, cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines. He built a watchtower inside it, he even hewed a wine press in it”.
The excavation yielded remains belonging to the agricultural hinterland of one of the ancient rural settlements in the Modi‘in region. The settlement’s existence was based on farming techniques that were adapted for the conditions of the area. These remains supplement the results of the many salvage excavations conducted in conjunction with the development of the city of Modi‘in.