During March 2006, a trial excavation was conducted in Moshav Kerem Maharal (Permit No. A-4747; map ref. 19919–22/72776–8), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by M. and L. Tzimet, was directed by E. Oren, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), K. Sa‘id (pottery reading) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Stratum I (British Mandate era).
A refuse pit that had cut a floor from the Ottoman period (L101) was discovered.
Stratum II (Ottoman period).
Two phases were exposed.
The Late Phase. A wall built of fieldstone and ashlars (W308) that was abutted on the west by a stone floor (L100; Fig. 2; not marked on the plan) was exposed on the eastern side of the square. A wall (W301; Fig. 3) built of large fieldstones, which was abutted from the east by a plaster floor (L101), was exposed west of and parallel to W308. A fragment of a jar (Fig. 4:1) and a clay pipe (Fig. 4:2) that dated to the Ottoman period were found in the accumulations above Floor 101.
Repairs made to Wall 316 and building additions of small fieldstones to a wall (W303) were also ascribed to this phase.
The Early Phase. The wall of a vault, oriented north–south and facing west (W305; Fig. 5), belonged to this phase. The upper part of W305 was built of partially dressed stones, its western face was plastered and its bottom part was built of fieldstones. A pale yellow dirt floor (L105; not marked on plan) abutted the western side W305. An arched opening, which was not fully excavated to its base, was exposed in the southern part of the wall; a jar fragment (Fig. 4:3) and a fragment of a clay pipe (Fig. 4:4) that dated to the Ottoman period were found alongside it.
A wall of fieldstones and ashlars (W316) was discovered in the eastern section, parallel to W305; a concrete floor (L103; not marked on plan; Fig. 6) abutted the northern part of the wall.
The southern end of another wall (W303), oriented north–south and built of ashlars and fieldstones, formed a corner with a wall built of small fieldstones and oriented east–west (W311). A wall built of two rows of large ashlars (W314) adjoined W303 from the west.
Stratum III (Mamluk period).
Two courses of a wall (W327; Fig. 7) were uncovered beneath W311. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Mamluk period were found in the fill alongside W327.
A narrow probe along the western side of W305 exposed a dirt floor (L104) that was overlain with potsherds from the Mamluk period; hence, it seems that this stratum can be attributed to this period. Fragments of glazed bowls (Fig. 4:5–8) from the Mamluk period were found on the eastern side of W305, below Floor 103.
Stratum IV (Byzantine period).
Two walls (W319, W323) were exposed east of and perpendicular to W303; they were built of one row of ashlars, founded on bedrock and preserved a single course high. A rock-hewn channel (L340) passed north of W323 and continued below W303.
A layer of ashlar collapse and body fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period (Fig. 4:9) were discovered beneath Floor 104.
Due to safety limitations, the excavation was suspended before bedrock was exposed and its scope is insufficient for a comprehensive understanding of the ancient remains.