Area A (Fig. 2)
Winepress A1 (Figs. 3, 4). A rock-hewn winepress consisting of a quadrangle treading floor (3.8 × 4.0 m, depth 0.2 m) and two collecting vats (L2—1.8 × 2.5 m, depth 1.3 m; L3—0.95 × 1.04 m, depth 0.73 m) was unearthed. A cupmark (diam. 0.22 m) was hewn in the center of the treading floor, and an irregularly shaped pressing installation (0.3 × 0.5 m) was hewn in the eastern part of the floor. A shallow channel led from the treading floor to Collecting Vat 2. A rectangular step (0.2 × 0.3 m) was hewn in the eastern part of Collecting Vat 2, and an irregularly shaped settling pit (0.18 × 0.23 m) was hewn in its western part. A small sump (diam. c. 0.2 m) was set in the floor of Collecting Vat 3. A pressing installation (L4) consisting of a treading floor (1.0 × 1.3 m) and a settling pit (diam. c. 0.5 m) was hewn northwest of the winepress. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period (not drawn) were discovered in Collecting Vat 2.
Limekiln A2 (L12; 4.6 × 5.3 m, min. depth c. 4 m; Figs. 5, 6). A rock-hewn kiln filled with alluvium and collapsed stones was unearthed. Layers of ash and collapsed fieldstones (L11) were revealed in the northwestern part of the installation, where the kiln’s stoking channel was probably located. A leveled bedrock surface (L10) was uncovered in the eastern part of the kiln. The kiln was not excavated down to its floor for safety reasons.
Building A3 (1.8 × 4.6 m; Fig. 7). The building was constructed near the hilltop. Its walls (W1–W4) were constructed of roughly hewn fieldstones that were placed on a layer of soil (thickness 0.2 m) overlying the bedrock. The building stones were bonded with mortar composed of soil and small fieldstones. An opening (width 1.4 m) was discovered in the northern part of W1. Part of the bedrock surrounding the building was made level (L19). Pottery vessels dating from the Iron Age (below) were found in the soil that had accumulated in the building (L22).
Building A4 (3.2 × 3.5 m; Figs. 8, 9). A quadrangle building that included an inner cell (c. 1 × 2 m) was unearthed. The building’s walls (W8–W12) were constructed of medium and large fieldstones, some of which were roughly hewn. These were placed on a layer of tamped soil (thickness 0.2 m) covering the bedrock. An opening (width 0.65 m) that led into the cell was fixed between Walls 11 and 12. The cell’s walls (W13–W15) were built of partially hewn fieldstones that were placed on the bedrock. The bedrock (L30) probably served as the floor in the cell, whereas the room surrounding had a layer of tamped brown soil (L29; thickness 0.15 m) on which seventh-century BCE pottery sherds were discovered (below). The building was blocked with small stones cleared from the surrounding fields.
Pottery from Buildings A3 and A4
Pottery vessels dating from the eighth–seventh centuries BCE were discovered on the floors of Buildings A3 and A4. These included a bowl with a somewhat straight, everted wall and a plain rim that is as thick as the vessel’s wall (Fig. 10:1). Bowls of this type are carinated toward the bottom and have a small disk base. They were common in the eighth–seventh centuries BCE in Judea and the Negev (Zimhoni 2004
: Fig. 26.55:10). Other bowls have a curved wall and a thickened, folded out rim (Fig. 10:2, 3). Vessels of this type were extensively used at numerous sites in Israel in the eighth–seventh centuries BCE (Zimhoni 2004
: Figs. 26.3:16–21; 26.56:4, 6). Other ceramic finds included two disk bases belonging to open bowls (Fig. 10:4, 5) and the bottom part of a lamp with thin walls (3–4 mm) and a thick tall base (Fig. 10:6). This type of lamps first appeared in the Iron IIC (seventh century BCE) and were discovered in Stratum II at Tel Lakhish (Zimhoni 2004
: Figs. 26.54:17; 26.55:19). The ceramic artifacts indicate that the buildings were constructed by Judean residents in the seventh century BCE, probably as part of the array of settlements in the Lachish region during this period.
Winepress A5 (Fig. 11). The winepress was quarried on a hilltop, taking advantage of the slope descending from east to west. The installation consisted of a quadrangle treading floor (L15; 2.45 × 2.60 m, depth 0.21 m) connected by shallow channels to a rectangular collecting vat (L16; 1.1 × 2.0 m). An elliptical settling pit (diam. 0.6 m) was hewn at the bottom of the vat. A small cupmark (L17; diam. 0.2 m, depth 0.15 m) was found in a bedrock surface near the collecting vat.
Field Wall A6 (W5; length 7 m, width 0.4–0.6 m; Fig. 12). The wall comprised a foundation built of large fieldstones set directly on bedrock (L23) and carrying a course of medium-sized fieldstones. The wall probably demarcated an agricultural plot. Two parallel walls (W7, 6W), also built of medium-sized fieldstones, abutted W5 from the west, apparently demarcating another field (L26).
Building A7 (c. 3.2 × 4.0 m; Fig. 13). A quadrangle structure built of walls (W16, W17) of large, roughly hewn fieldstones was partially preserved on a leveled bedrock surface (L34).
Pressing Installations (Bodedot) A8 (L209, L250; Fig. 14). Two rock-cut pressing installations (not drawn in Fig. 2) were discovered c. 20 m south of Building A7. Installation 209 consisted of a quadrangle treading floor (1.0 × 1.5 m) connected by a shallow channel to an elliptical settling pit (diam. c. 1.5 m, depth 0.13 m).
Area B (Figs. 15, 16)
Winepress B1 (L210; Fig. 17). A rock-hewn winepress comprising an asymmetric treading floor (1.75 × 2.00 m, depth 0.15 m) connected by a shallow channel (length 0.2 m, width 0.13 m) to a rectangular collecting vat (0.80 × 1.25 m, depth 0.4 m) was unearthed. A small settling pit (diam. c. 0.2 m) was set in the floor of the collecting vat. The winepress was located far from the rest of the finds in this area and therefore does not appear on Fig. 15.
Limekiln B2 (Fig. 18). The lower part of the kiln was narrow (diam. c. 2 m) and rock-hewn, and its upper part was wider (diam. c. 2.5 m) and built of fieldstones. The kiln’s floor (L221), hewn in soft limestone, had a rectangular rock-cutting (0.15 × 0.25 m, depth 0.6 m). Inside the kiln were stones that had collapsed from the installation; these covered a thick layer of ash (thickness c. 0.3 m). Collapsed stones and ash (L222) were found west of the kiln, where the kiln’s stoking channel may have been located.
Pressing Installation B3 (Fig. 19). The installation consisted of a cupmark (diam. 0.25 m, depth 0.1 m) and a small rectangular rock cutting (0.12 × 0.24 m, depth 0.12 m).
Building B4 (1.0 × 2.2 m; Fig. 20). The walls of the building (W20–W22) were constructed of large, roughly hewn stones set directly on the bedrock. A small cupmark (diam. 0.15 m) was found in W20. The building was blocked down to bedrock with small stones (L205) cleared from the surrounding fields.
Stone Clearance Heaps B5 (L203, L204; height 1.0–1.5 m; Figs. 21, 22). Two piles of small stones were revealed that were placed directly on the bedrock and were delimited by walls built of large stones.
Limekiln B6 (diam. c. 4 m, min. depth c. 4 m; Figs. 23, 24). The excavation was conducted in the stoking channel (L200; length 2.7 m, width 0.6 m) of the kiln; the kiln itself was not excavated for safety reasons. The installation was rock cut and enclosed within a peripheral wall built of dressed limestone. The stoking channel was hewn in the bedrock and delimited by two rows of medium-sized stones.
Field Walls B7 (length 2–3 m, width 0.3–0.5 m; Fig. 25). Three meager walls founded directly on bedrock (L206) were exposed; they were built of medium-sized fieldstones with no bonding material and were.
Field Tower B8 (3.8 × 4.0 m; Figs. 26, 27). The field tower is a quadrangle structure whose walls (W500–W503) consisted of an outer face of medium-sized ashlars and an inner face of fieldstones and small pebbles. The walls were founded on the bedrock (L103), parts of which were leveled prior to their construction. An opening (width 0.8 m), in which the doorjambs (c. 0.3 × 0.7 m) and the threshold stone (0.3 × 0.6 m) were preserved, was set in W502. Rectangular pillars (bases: 0.34 × 0.65 m), which probably supported an arch, were integrated in Walls 500 and 501. The building’s floor (L102) was made of tamped brown soil deposited directly on the bedrock. On the floor, which was mostly destroyed, stones that had were collapsed from the walls and arch. Pottery sherds from the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE), including a bowl (Fig. 10:7), kraters (Fig. 10:8–10), cooking pots (Fig. 10:11, 12), bag-shaped jars (Fig. 10:13–15) and a jug (Fig. 10:16) were found on the bedrock inside the building and around it.
Columbarium Cave B9 (c. 6 × 9 m, min. depth 4.5 m; Figs. 28, 29). The cave was not manually excavated for safety reasons; mechanical equipment was used to dig the interior of the cave. An opening (L110; 1.2 × 1.4 m) was hewn in the northern part of the cave, and it was blocked with stone collapse and erosion. At least seven rows of round niches were discerned on the western wall of the cave.
Pressing Installation B10 (Fig. 30). A circular rock-hewn treading floor (L162; 2.2 × 2.3 m) with raised walls (height c. 0.2 m) was exposed. It seems that the treading floor was part of a pressing installation whose channels and vats did not survive.
Winepress B11 (L140; Fig. 31). A simple rock-hewn winepress was unearthed: a quadrangle treading floor (1.63 × 1.70 m) connected by a shallow channel (length 0.3 m, width 0.1 m) to a rectangular collecting vat (0.7 × 1.2 m). A small settling pit (diam. c. 0.2 m) was set in the southwestern part of the collecting vat’s floor.
The finds from the excavation augment those from previous excavations, indicating together the extensive agricultural activity that took place in this area over many periods. The paucity of ceramic finds in the installations is evidence that there were no nearby dwellings, and that the installations were part of the agricultural hinterland of the surrounding settlements.