During March–April 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted south of Highway 6667 (Permit No. A-5394; map ref. 24572–605/71166–72), in the wake of damage to antiquities during the installation of a water-pipe line. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Afikey Mayim Company, was directed by W. Atrash (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), T. Kornfeld (surveying), A. Shapiro (GPS), H. Smithline (studio photography), H. Abu-‘Uqsa (ceramics) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
An area (c. 100 sq m) was excavated and remains of a building, which was identified as part of a farmstead that dated to the fifth–seventh centuries CE, were exposed.
The rectangular building (5.3×10.4 m) consisted of three units (1–3; Figs. 1, 2), arranged in a row along an east–west axis.
The walls of the building (W11–W13, W20; width 0.9 m), preserved three courses high, were built of basalt fieldstones (Fig. 3); the superstructure of the walls was presumably built of mud bricks. The walls were founded on a tamped layer (L16) of pale yellow sand and small lumps of travertine, which contained fragments of pottery vessels. A foundation (L18) of small basalt stones, which also contained small fragments of pottery, was exposed in the building’s northern façade. The entrance (0.8 m wide) to the building was in the center of the northern W11 and led to the central unit (2); the threshold and doorjambs were built of finely dressed basalt stones.
Unit 1 (2.4×3.5 m), located in the west of the building, was severely damaged in its southern and western parts when a communications line had been installed in the past. The floor of the unit, founded on sand and travertine, was not preserved.
Unit 2 (2.1×3.5 m) was delimited by two partition walls (W14, W17), in whose north were entries (width 0.9, 1.1 m) that led to Units 1 and 3. The floor (L22) consisted of sand and travertine and contained potsherds. A rectangular work surface (W25; 0.7×1.2 m, height c. 0.34 m; Fig. 4) was exposed above the floor in the southeastern corner. It was built of one layer of basalt stones that were founded on a layer of sand and travertine (L27), which contained fragments of pottery vessels.
Unit 3 (2.8×3.5 m) was located in the east of the building. A wall (W23), built of a row of large debesh and preserved two courses high, was exposed in the south, parallel to W13. A kind of channel between the walls had a floor of small fieldstones (width c. 0.2 m; Fig. 5). The channel (L24) was filled with alluvium that contained fragments of pottery vessels. Layers of silt, light gray soil and small stones (L21, L26) also contained potsherds, as well as pieces of mud bricks and bitumen that were probably remains of a floor that was not preserved.
The building was covered with layers of fill and alluvium (L10, L15, L19) that yielded a few potsherds and fragments of roof tiles. The potsherds recovered from the wall foundations and the floors, above the floors and in the layers of fill that covered the building included bowls (Fig. 6:1, 2), cooking kraters (Fig. 6:3–5), cooking pots (Fig. 6:6–11), lids (Fig. 6:12–15), jars (Fig. 7:1–3), jugs (Fig. 7:4–6) and a lamp (Fig. 7:7), all dating to the Byzantine period.
Based on the finds above the floors, it can be assumed that the building had a tiled roof and its floor consisted of mud bricks and bitumen.The ceramic artifacts indicate that the building, probably part of a farmstead founded in the fifth century CE, was abandoned at the end of the Byzantine period, probably following the Muslim conquest.