During June–July 2008 and November 2008–January 2009, two seasons of excavation were conducted west of Zur Natan (Permit No. A-5454; map ref. 2005/6832), prior to construction. The excavations, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Industrial Buildings Company, Ltd., were directed by Y. Dagan and A. ‘Azab (first season), with the assistance of U. ‘Ad, H. Torge, V. Eshed and E. Haddad (area supervision), S. Ya‘aqov-Jam and E. Bachar (administration), R. Mishayev, A. Hajian, M. Kunin and T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), L. Barda, H. Ben-Ari and A. Dagot (GPS), T. Sagiv (field photography), Sky Balloon Company (aerial photography), A. Yaroshevitz (flint collection), and A. Re’em and R. Lupu. A survey (A. ‘Azab and M. Peilstöcker) conducted in the vicinity and probe trenches (Y. Korenfeld) dug prior to the excavation have determined the location of the excavation areas.
During the two excavation seasons, the following antiquities were exposed in an area that totaled c. 1,000 dunams: numerous quarries extending over a large area (121; Figs. 1, 2), rock-cuttings in bedrock outcrops (11), rock-hewn burial caves from the Roman period (16; only the courtyards and the facades were excavated; Figs. 3–5), caves whose use was not determined (7), cisterns (3), limekilns (3; Figs. 6, 7), a potter’s kiln (1), olive-oil installations (28; Figs. 8, 9), including two especially large presses, different size winepresses (11; Fig. 10), a retaining wall of a Roman road, farming terraces and stone clearance heaps. Numerous potsherds and flint artifacts that dated mostly to the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Middle Bronze II, Iron Age II, and the Persian and Hellenistic periods were collected. A large concentration of installations for processing agricultural produce, particularly olive oil, and stone quarries, were documented in the excavation. It seems that these areas served as the agricultural and industrial hinterland of the large settlement, situated on the hill east of the excavation. The burial caves documented in the area and the excellent craftsmanship of their quarrying shows that an affluent population resided in the region during the Roman period.
Five areas (each 20×20 m) were opened in the second season of excavations, aiming to collect all the flint implements on the surface. The gathered artifacts included blades, bladelet cores, retouched flakes and an arrowhead (el-Khiam point). The presence of bifacial blades, bladelet cores and the el-Khiam point date the assemblage to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (PPNA).