During June 2007, a survey preceding development was conducted in the Yattir region, in an area designated for the expansion of Qibbuz Har ‘Amasa (Permit No. A-5244; map ref. 2088–98/5829–38). The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Qibbuz Har ‘Amasa, was performed by O. Shmueli, Y. Haimi and R. Zecharia, with the assistance of S. Gal (GIS).
The survey was carried out in the southeastern section of the Yattir region, on the southern slopes of the Hebron Hills, in an area between the Yattir Forest and the Har ‘Amasa spur (elevation 859 m). An archaeological survey had previously been conducted in the region prior to the planting of the Yattir Forest (Z. Meshel, S. Ben Yosef and U. Dror, 1978. Yattir Region).
Khirbat Rujm es-Suweif, where remains of a fortified tower were documented (File 2336/0, IAA Archive), extends southwest of Qibbuz Har ‘Amasa. To the southeast of the Qibbuz, an important road from the Roman period, which led from the Hebron Hills to Horbat Deragot and farther on to the Negev Highlands and the ‘Arava, was surveyed. This is probably the road depicted on the Poitinger Map (from the Late Roman period); it branched off from the road that led from Jerusalem to Haluza and Tamar (M. Har’el 1980. The Copper, Myrrh and Frankincense Route. In: Travels and Campaigns in Antiquity).
Two kinds of farming terraces were found in the area northwest and northeast of the Qibbuz: terraces built on a hillside and used for leveling agricultural land and terraces that were used to dam wadi channels (Fig. 1). The terraces and dams were built one or two courses high of large fieldstones (0.5×1.0 m).
A rock-hewn cistern was exposed west of the entrance gate to the Qibbuz (Fig. 1:1). A cave whose opening faced west (Fig. 1:2) and a farmhouse (Figs. 1:3; 2) with a rectangular courtyard that was bounded with an enclosure wall were documented to the northwest of the Qibbuz. Two openings in the southern enclosure wall led into the courtyard. A rectangular room that could be the base of a tower was built within the courtyard, next to the western enclosure wall. The farmhouse, built of fieldstones and ashlars, was preserved c. 1 m high. Remains of curved walls, which probably belonged either to another building or to a larger structure, were noted to the east and west, outside the farmhouse. Based on the pottery finds, it seems that the farmhouse should be dated to the Early Islamic period (eighth–ninth centuries CE).
The section of an ancient Roman road (width c. 6 m; Fig. 1:4), which is bounded by fieldstone-built curb and is adjacent to the Qibbuz, was resurveyed. A few stairs, built of walls and supported by fill, spanned the width of the road. The distance between the stairs varied in accordance with the slope of the surface (Fig. 3). A square tower (height c. 5 m; Fig. 1:5) was discovered along a section of the road northeast of the Qibbuz. A crossroads (Fig. 1:6), where the main road branched off toward the tower and to a short road section that led west, was discovered c. 50 m north of the tower (Fig. 4).
The remains exposed in the survey are indicative of ancient agricultural activity that was probably connected to the nearby Khirbat Rujm al-Suweif and to the Roman road.