The survey of the Map of Gedera (License Nos. G-47/2000, G-44/2001; Map No. 85) began in May 2000, within the framework of the Israel Survey. The survey, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by V. Zbenovich and L. Barda, assisted by M. Haiman and A. Golan.
Known sites were reexamined and several new sites, mostly scatterings of potsherds, were discovered.
Khirbat El-Mughr. Ancient remains superposed by remains of an Arab village. Caves were investigated on the eastern and southern slopes of the site, which is located on a prominent kurkar hill, rising above the surrounding area. Rock-cut burial caves with kokhim and an arched façade were discovered, several of which were used as dwellings in modern times (map ref. NIG 17970–6/63871–6; OIG 12970–6/13871–6). One cave consisted of a large chamber (8 × 10 m) with a hewn column (diam. c. 1.2 m) in its center. A hewn cist grave (map ref. NIG 17951/63846; OIG 12951/13846) was recorded, with rock-cuttings and quarries surrounding it. Circular openings (diam. 0.9–1.3 m), perhaps belonging to shaft graves, were at the top of the hill (map ref. NIG 17948–9/63846–9; OIG 12948–9/13846–9) and fragments of pottery vessels from the Early Bronze Age and the Roman and Byzantine periods were scattered nearby.
A site from Early Bronze Age I (map ref. NIG 17923–32/63852–67; OIG 12923–32/13852–67) that contained a large quantity of potsherds and flint implements was observed on a hamra hill to the west of the kurkar hill. On the northern bank of Nahal Qidron, south of the kurkar hill, was another hamra hill with remains, dating to the Roman period (map ref. NIG 17919–38/63814–36; OIG 12919–38/13814–36), including sections of walls and a large scattering of potsherds. It seems that the high kurkar hill served as a cemetery for the Early Bronze Age settlement and was a cemetery and a quarry for the Roman-period settlement, located to its south.
Building. Some 400 m southwest of Khirbat El-Mughr was a well-built structure (map ref. NIG 17921/63837; OIG 12921/13837) of kurkar masonry stones bonded with cement. Most of the rooms were destroyed and the two remaining ones (each c. 3 × 6 m) had a vaulted ceiling; one room was partially demolished. The building was built above a blocked well, marked by the British Survey in the western part of Khirbat El-Mughr. The building should be dated to the Mamluk or Ottoman periods, judging by its construction. Next to the building was a water reservoir (c. 6 × 10 m) built of kurkar and coated with white plaster. Three built steps in the southwestern corner led down into the pool.
Tel Qatra. The tell is located c. 500 m from the southern bank of Nahal Soreq. The remains were poorly preserved due to the Arab village that was located on top of the tell. A previous excavation had been conducted along the edge of the site (HA–ESI 110:65*). At the top of the hill was an underground chamber (map ref. NIG 17907/63678; OIG 12907/13678) that J. Kaplan believed was a wine-cellar (Yedi‘ot 1953). The room was circular, its ceiling was vaulted (diam. 3.5 m, height 2.5 m) and its walls were lined with small fieldstones.
Exposed sections in the southwestern part of the tell (map ref. NIG 17894/63672; OIG 12894/13672) revealed numerous fragments of pottery vessels from the Middle and Late Bronze Ages and Iron I. A Muslim cemetery in this part of the tell consisted of graves dug in the ground and marked with dressed stones that were taken from remains of the ancient buildings.
A Loculi Tomb at Khirbat Yāsur. The tomb was hewn inside a quarry (map ref. NIG 17629/63028; OIG 12629/13028). Its semicircular entrance, damaged when the quarry was in operation, led to a chamber (c. 2.5 × 3.0 m) with a carefully hewn loculus (0.5–0.6 × 2.0 m) in each of the three walls. A stone frame was created in the loculus opposite the entrance (Fig. 1). Many jar fragments from the Roman period and osteological remains were discovered in the tomb and its vicinity.
Kefar Mordekhay (map ref. NIG 17680–720/63805–35; OIG 12680–720/13805–35). A low hamra hill, where large scatterings of potsherds from the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, Iron Age, Roman, Byzantine, Early Islamic, Mamluk and Ottoman periods, were recorded, as well as many fragments of basalt vessels and a few flint implements that were attributed to the Middle Bronze Age.
Holot Yavne (map ref. NIG 17245–55/63935–55; OIG 12245–55/13935–55). A hamra hill partially covered with sand dunes, in which settlement remains, including kurkar masonry stones, large crude tesserae and many pottery fragments from the Hellenistic, Early Roman (most of the sherds) and Byzantine periods, were discovered, as well as fragments of glass vessels and small white tesserae. Some 300 m to the south another scattering of potsherds from the Byzantine, Mamluk and Ottoman periods was documented.
Gan Ha-Darom (map ref. NIG 17260–85/63465–505; OIG 12260–85/13465–505). A low hill that has extensive settlement remains, including kurkar masonry stones and remains of destroyed installations, among them fragments of plastered surfaces, querns and basalt millstones, marble fragments, numerous tesserae and pottery fragments, ranging from the Roman to the Ottoman periods. Most of the finds dated to the Byzantine and Mamluk periods.
Shetulim (map ref. NIG 17126–38/63084–97; OIG 12126–36/13084–97). A small leveled area in the fields of Moshav Shetulim, c. 200 m west of the Nahal Ha-Ela. Many fragments of pottery vessels from the Chalcolithic period were found (Fig. 2: Bowls [1–4], holemouth jars [5–7]), as well as stone vessels (Fig. 2: Basalt bowl ), querns, burnt mud-brick material and flint implements from the Chalcolithic period and probably from the Late Neolithic period as well.
All of the sites, with the exception of the Chalcolithic-period site, are located on low hamra hills. Since most of the region was inhabited and worked over long periods of times, it is usually impossible to determine with certainty the types of sites and their size. In sites that do not have any clear geographical boundary, such as a hill (the Chalcolithic site for example), the determination of size relies solely on changes in the diffusion of ceramic finds. The borders and details of sites that were abandoned and destroyed in 1948, such as Khirbat El-Mughr and Tell Qatra, were reconstructed on the basis of written sources from the nineteenth century, e.g., Guérin and the British Survey, as well as archival reports of the Antiquities Authority, which mention architectural and ornamental remains at these sites.