In November 2016, a trial excavation was conducted in the northern industrial zone of Shoham, on the northern fringes of Khirbat el-Bira (Permit No. A-7826; map ref. 196647-878/658433-520; Fig. 1), prior to development work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Shoham Economic Company, was directed by A. ʽAzab, with the assistance of S. Crispin (area supervision), Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (photography) and A. Dagot (GPS).
Building remains, agricultural produce processing installations, quarries and tombs from the Iron Age II and the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were revealed in previous surveys and excavations conducted in and around the area (Buchennino 2010
; Dagan and Barda 2010
; Volynsky 2012
; ‘Azab 2013
Ten squares were opened, exposing eight farming terraces and the remains of a kiln (Fig. 2).
Farming Terraces. Four walls (W1, W3–W5; length c. 80 m, c. 30 m, c. 50 m, c. 45 m respectively; Figs. 3–5) oriented north–south and built of fieldstones (average size 0.75 × 0.75 m) placed in a relatively straight line on brown fill soil were exposed. The walls survived to a height of just one course.
Four additional poorly preserved walls (W2, W7, W8, W115; length c. 5 m, c. 5 m, c. 15 m, c. 8 m respectively) aligned east–west and built of fieldstones (average size 0.8 m × 0.8 m) survived to a height of a single course.
Limekiln. The installation (L6; diam. 6 m, depth c. 2 m; Figs. 6, 7), constructed of roughly hewn fieldstones, survived to a height of five courses (c. 2 m). A stoking chamber (L110; length c. 2 m, width c. 0.5 m) was revealed in the kiln’s southwestern wall.
The excavation revealed that the area was part of the agricultural and industrial hinterland of Khirbat el-Bira. Several pottery sherds, including ribbed body fragments, probably of Byzantine date, were found around the installations during the excavation. The finds join those of excavations and surveys previously conducted in the area, and attest to the extensive agricultural activity that transpired there.