During September 2008, an excavation was conducted in the western part of Nes Ziyyona (Permit No. A-5518; map ref. 180079–152/648651–751), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by theMakran Building and Development Company, Ltd., was directed by D. Golan, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (field photography) and M. Shuiskaya (drawing).
Six squares (1, 2, 3A, 3B, 4, 5; Fig. 1) were excavated in an area of orchards. Foundations and pillars of water channels that dated to the Byzantine, Early Islamic and Ottoman periods were exposed. Remains dating to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, as well as the British Mandate era were uncovered c. 300 m east of the current excavation (HA-ESI 118
). Remains of water channels from the Early Islamic period and a road from the Ottoman period were revealed south of the excavation (HA-ESI 120
) and remains of water channels from the Ottoman period were discovered west of the current excavation (HA-ESI 121
Short walls built of small stones were exposed in Squares 1, 2, 3A and 3B (W109 – length 0.9 m, width 0.8 m, height 0.37 m; W110 – length 0.8, width 0.8 m, height 0.35 m; W11 – length 1.1 m, width 0.85 m, height 0.28 m; W115 – length 1.3 m, width 0.9 m, height 0.35 m). These walls may be a row of water-channel pillars that extended from east to west, since most of the building remains in this and the surrounding excavations were related to water channels. A few non-diagnostic potsherds from the Byzantine period were discovered in these squares.
A long wall, built of small fieldstones and oriented east–west, was exposed in Square 4 (W106; length 33 m, width 0.7 m, preserved height 0.25 m; Fig. 2); only the top of the wall was cleaned in the area east and west of the square. A few plaster remains were discovered along the wall, which led to a well and a pool situated several dozen meters west of the excavation area. Wall 106 was adjoined by three walls built of small fieldstones (W108, W120, W121; width 0.5–0.7 m); another wall (W122) of similar construction abutted W120. It seems that these walls were the foundations of water channels for irrigation, which comprised a main channel together with secondary channels that branched off from it. A similar system of channels was exposed nearby (see HA-ESI 121). A few potsherds from the Byzantine period, including a jar rim (Fig. 4:1), and from the Early Islamic period were discovered in the excavation of the channels.
A corner formed by two walls (W117 – length 1.8 m, width 0.7 m; W119 – length 1.6 m, width 0.57 m; Fig. 3) was exposed in Square 5; it was built of small fieldstones and preserved a single course high. A poorly preserved wall stump (W118) was exposed north of these walls. It seems that these walls were the foundation remains of water channels. The finds recovered from Square 5 dated to the Ottoman period and included Gaza jars (Fig. 4:2, 3).
The excavation area and its environs were part of an irrigated agricultural area, watered by channels that dated to the Byzantine, Early Islamic and Ottoman periods. It seems that this region was part of the farmland cultivated by the residents of Sarafand al-Harab, located c. 1 km east of the site (ESI 18:73–76), or el-Khirba, c. 1 km south of the site (HA-ESI 109:97*).