During July 2007, a salvage excavation was conducted at the western end of Nes Ziyyona (Permit No. A-5161; map ref. NIG 179973–80139/648475–871; OIG 129973–30139/148475–871), prior to paving a road. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Nes Ziyyona municipality, was directed by D. Golan, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kunin (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), Y. Arnon (pottery reading), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), A. Sasson (consultation), D.T. Ariel (numismatics) and A. Glick (weapons and balistics). Assistance was also provided by the Rahma Brothers Earthmoving Works Company, Ltd.
Previous excavations at the site, c. 300 m northeast of the current excavation area, exposed remains that dated to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods and the time of the British Mandate (HA-ESI 118). Remains from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were also discovered at el-Khirba, c. 1 km southeast of the excavation area (HA-ESI 109:97*–98*). At Sarafand el-Kharab (Yad Eli‘ezer neighborhood), c. 2 km east of the site, remains of a settlement that dated from the Byzantine until the Ottoman periods had previously been revealed (ESI 18: 73–76; ‘Atiqot 46:37*–58*) and remains of channels from the Early Islamic period were exposed c. 50 m east of the site (HA-ESI 120).
Eight excavations squares were opened along 250 m of the planned route of the road (Fig. 1), in an area where a citrus orchard was planted. Dark soil fill that covered the indigenous hamra was found in most of the area; the ground in Squares 7 and 8 was sandy. The most important feature was a system of water channels, connected to pools and wells that included a pool 30 m north of the excavation area, a pool and a well 140 m to its southwest and a pool and a well near the excavation area, which was utilized by farms in the Late Ottoman period (end of the nineteenth century CE) and at the time of the British Mandate.
Square 1. Two superposed layers of kurkar fieldstones, without a distinct outline (L130; 1.35 × 1.80 m, overall thickness 0.12 m; 0.63 m below surface), were exposed in the middle of the square. These stones were probably consolidated into clearance heaps or were the remains of a roadbed or channel. Only a few worn potsherds from the Early Islamic period and modern refuse were found among the stones.
Square 2. A channel (L111; length 4.5 m, inner width 0.2 m, depth 0.22 m; Fig. 2) that extended from northeast to southwest and continued beyond the boundaries of the square was exposed. The channel, built of roughly dressed kurkar stones, was set on a foundation wall that comprised five coursesof kurkar fieldstones (average dimensions 0.11 × 0.14 m); the channel and its foundation stood to an overall height of 0.76 m. The interior of the channel was partly coated with two layers of plaster; the bottom layer was of coarse white–gray plaster mixed with gray inclusions and crushed shells and the thin upper layer consisted of fine gray plaster that rendered the bottom of the channel a curved cross-section.
Square 3. A channel (L112; length of 4.24 m, outer width 0.32 m, inner width 0.18 m, depth 0.16 m; Fig. 3), aligned northwest-southeast and extending beyond the limits of the excavation square, was exposed. The channel was built atop a single course (width 0.68 m) of fieldstones (average dimensions 0.12 × 0.14 m). Its sides consisted of poured concrete and iron and its bottom was coated with a layer of plaster. It should be associated with a well, utilized until about a decade ago, which is located to the west of the channel and with a large pool, farther along the channel course, situated c. 30 m northwest of the excavation square.
Square 4. A channel (L113; length 5 m, outer width 0.54 m, inner width 0.22 m, depth 8 cm; Figs. 4, 5) that was similar to the one in Square 2 was exposed; it extended along an incline from the southwest, in the vicinity of the pool, to the northeast. The channel, built of plaster and small stones, was set on a foundation wall of four fieldstone courses (average dimensions 0.10 × 0.17 m); the channel and the foundation stood to an overall height of 0.7 m. Fragments of concrete sides of a channel were found above Channel 113 and in its vicinity. Remains of a poured concrete channel that was constructed on top of an extension of Channel 113 were visible on the surface, southwest of the square. Hence, it appears that in a later phase, two concrete channels were built next to each other along the route of Channel 113, for the purpose of expanding it and several of its sections had survived.
Square 5. A section of a wall (W114; exposed length 4 m, width 0.83 m, height 0.28 m), oriented northeast-southwest and continuing in both directions beyond the limits of the excavation square, was exposed. The wall was built of two fieldstone courses (average dimensions 0.2 × 0.2 m), arranged in three rows. Based on its length and alignment, extending in the direction of the pool, it seems to have served as a foundation wall of a channel.
Square 6. A water channel (L117; outer width 0.75 m) that had survived by a small section was exposed. It seems that the channel was founded upon a surface that was borne atop a narrower wall (length 4.52 m, width 0.5 m), which was built of five fieldstone courses (average dimensions 0.20 × 0.35 m) that were larger than those used in the other channel foundation walls. The channel, whose east–west alignment did not lead to a pool or a well, was connected to the channel constructed on top of Wall 114 in Square 5.
Squares 7 and 8. The spot where two channels were joined was discovered in the squares (Fig. 6). A channel (L124; length 3.2 m, outer width 0.39 m, inner width 0.23 m) that descended from northeast to southwest was exposed in Square 8. The channel, set directly upon the sand without any foundation, was built of concrete mixed with shells and its bottom was coated with plaster. Its direction indicates that it was possibly connected to the concrete pool, situated on a hill, c. 30 m to the northeast. Channel 124 was connected to another channel (L125) that extended from north-northwest to the south-southeast. The northeastern side of Channel 125 was broken and low at the joining spot, allowing the water to flow into Channel 124. A concrete slab that was used to regulate the water flow was found east of the channels’ juncture. Channel 125 was built on a fieldstone foundation, whose continuation was observed without the channel, west of Square 7 (length 4 m, width 0.49 m, height 0.13 m).
The fill alongside the channels contained a few ceramic fragments, mostly Marseille roof tiles and Gaza-ware vessels, including a bowl (Fig. 7:1) and a jar (Fig. 7: 2), as well as sections of ceramic water pipes (Fig. 7:3–6). A two-mil coin that was struck in 1946 was found in Square 3. A Judean coin of the procurator Valerius Gratus that dated to the time of the emperor Tiberius (IAA No. 111866) was found on the surface in Square 6. It was brought to the site from outside the excavation region, probably due to modern agricultural activity, because no sites from this period are known in the vicinity. A number of discharged rifle cartridges were found in Square 8; one belonged to the type common to the end of the nineteenth century CE and the others bore an Arabic inscription and were probably manufactured in Turkey at the beginning of the twentieth century CE.