During March 2009, a trial excavation was conducted alongside Tel Hazir (Permit No. A-5624; map ref. 21856/73658), after a cluster of stones was discovered in trial trenches prior to widening a section of Highway 77 between Ha-Movil and Ramat Yishay Junctions. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by M. Godin and K. Guvrin-Stern, was directed by L Porat, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), A. Shapiro (surveying, GPS and consultation regarding the plaster), H. Smithline (field photography), M. Hartal (scientific guidance), N. Getzov (ceramic consultation) H. Tahan (pottery drawing) and laborers from Yafia.
Tel Hazir is a small mound in the northern Jezreel Valley, northeast of Ramat Yishay. Cairns, ashlars, rock-cuttings and parts of hewn installations had been documented during a past survey; however, the ceramic evidence was scarce and insufficient for proposing a date (Map of Nahalal , Site 73).
A round plastered agricultural installation was exposed in the excavation (4×6 m), which was c. 200 m northeast of the tell (Fig. 1). The installation (L13; diam. 1.5 m; Figs. 2, 3), founded on a base of closely packed small and medium fieldstones (L14; Fig. 4) in a shallow depression dug in heavy clay soil (L12), was enclosed within medium and large fieldstones. Its floor and sides consisted of a thick layer of plaster, to which two layers of repairs had been applied. The plaster included a small amount of sand and a few worn potsherds; the final layer applied to the plaster was composed of identical material. A pit (diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.14 m) whose upper part was only coated with plaster was set in the western part of the installation’s floor. The installation was found leaning, probably due to the shifting of the ground.
A meager amount of potsherds was found in the fill above and near the installation. A few were too small and worn and the others were ascribed to Iron Age II, including two bowl fragments (Fig. 5:1, 2) and one fragment of a hole-mouth jar (Fig. 5:3). It therefore seems that the installation was used by the inhabitants of nearby Tel Hazir during this period. Installations of a similar size and shape were used in olive presses from the Iron Age, whose foundations were built of large stone slabs in order to bear the weight of the crushing stones. The foundation of the current installation consisted of small stones and the floor was composed of plaster, which could not possibly create a strong and stable surface for an olive press, it seems that this installation was used as a small winepress or perhaps as a collecting vat of a larger winepress whose other components did not survive.