Area A (Figs. 3–5). Twelve excavation squares were opened, yielding a complex winepress that comprised a treading floor and a collecting vat that were connected to an intermediate vat. The treading floor (L111; 3.8 × 3.8 m; Fig. 6) was square and paved with dressed slabs of hard limestone. The floor was founded on several layers of gray-white plaster, to which the stone slabs were affixed. A square pit (0.3 × 0.3 m, depth 0.4 m) for a screw installation was found in the center of the treading floor. The bottom part of the pit widened so as to secure the base of the screw. A channel (length 2.5 m, width 0.15 m; Fig. 7) beginning at the northern side of the pit led to the intermediate vat. The treading floor was enclosed within four walls (W103–W105, W107; length 4.5–4.8 m, width 0.6–0.7 m) built of chalk stones bonded with mud. The inner face of each of these walls was treated with four layers of gray-white plaster (thickness 4 cm), to which were affixed dressed slabs of hard limestone. No architectural remains of the winepress were discerned to the south and east of the treading floor (L109, L110).
The intermediate vat (L113; 1.00 × 1.05 m; Fig. 8) was square and built of dressed slabs made of hard limestone. Hydraulic plaster that did not survive was apparently applied to the vat’s floor. A hole (length 0.7 m, at a 70° inclination) discovered in the eastern wall of the vat connected it to the collecting vat. West of the intermediate vat was a built square surface (W114; 1 × 1 m) that probably served as a work surface. The collecting vat (L122; 1.8 × 2.0 m, depth 1.3 m; Figs. 9, 10) was almost square and meticulously constructed. The vat was dug into the ground; its walls (W119, W124–W126) were built of square fieldstones bonded with mortar and treated with four layers of gray plaster and an upper application of pink-white hydraulic plaster (thickness 2 cm; Fig. 11). Two steps were incorporated in its northern wall (W126). Its floor was paved with dressed rectangular and triangular stone slabs. A round sump (diam. 0.58 m, depth 0.32 m) hewn in a block of hard limestone was installed in the center of the vat. The intermediate vat and the collecting vat were The two vats were also enclosed by walls: W105, which separated them from the treading floor; the continuation of W103; a third wall (W118; length 5.2 m, width 0.7 m) built similarly to the other peripheral walls; and probably a fourth wall (W121), whose foundation was found in the northern part of the winepress. Wall 121 did not survive due to the steep inclination of the northern sloped. The collapsed stones from the wall were discovered west of the winepress (L112).
The collapse above the treading floor contained pottery sherds from the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE), representing bowls (Fig. 12:1, 2), cooking pots (Fig. 12:3–5), bag-shaped jars (Fig. 12:6, 7) and a lamp (Fig. 12:8).
Area B (Figs. 13, 14). An irregularly shaped surface built of chalk stones was discovered (L200, L202; 2.5 × 5.4 m). No datable artifacts were found. The surface was apparently used as a threshing floor where wheat was flailed. Similar threshing floors were discovered at Hazeva (Y. Israel, pers. comm.).
Area C (Figs. 15, 16). A wall (W302; width 0.7 m, preserved height 0.3 m) belonging to a circular installation (inner diam. 3.5 m, outer diameter 4.3 m) was discovered; the wall was built of fieldstones bonded with mud. Neither floors nor finds were discovered inside or outside the installation (L303 and L305). It is thus difficult to know with certainty what the installation was used for, although it may have been a dovecote or a silo.
Area D (Figs. 17–19). Ten excavation squares were opened in an area that sloped steeply to the west, yielding a farmhouse (6 × 14 m) with three rooms (1–3). The walls of the farmhouse were built of large, roughly hewn chalk stones, on which lay small and medium stones bonded with mud. The southeastern wall (W403, W417; length 12.3 m, width 0.7 m) and the northwestern wall (W405, W415; length 11.6 m, width 0.72 m) delimited the three rooms. The walls in Room 1 (4.0 × 4.5 m) were preserved to a height of four courses. Rectangular pillars (0.5 × 0.7 m) that supported the building’s roof were incorporated in its southeastern (W403) and northwestern (W405) walls. A step (0.4 × 0.7 m) next to W403 indicated the location of an opening in the wall. The floor in Room 1 was made of crushed loess and limestone aggregates (L407) placed directly on the ground (L410). Room 2 (3.5 × 4.7 m) was built in a similar manner as Room 1; its opening seems to have been in W403, but it could not be located due to the poor preservation of that section of the wall. The room’s floor (L418) was similarly composed of crushed loess and limestone aggregates and laid directly on the ground (L414). Hearths were discovered on the floor. Room 3 (4.3 × 4.6 m) was partly exposed. Only the foundation of its southwestern wall (W419; length 1.8 m, width 0.7 m) was preserved. A rectangular pillar (0.5 × 0.6 m) was incorporated in the northeastern wall (W412; length 3.6 m, width 0.7 m). It seems that the farmhouse was abandoned in an orderly manner, since no diagnostic pottery sherds were discovered within or outside the structure.
Area E (Fig. 20). A natural cave that was converted into a water reservoir (opening: 3.5 × 4.0 m) was documented west of the Nahal Zon streambed; it was not excavated for safety reasons.
The finds from the excavation adds to our knowledge of the agricultural activity in the area. The winepress in Area A, along with the winepresses previously unearthed in the Be’er Shevaʽ and Arad Valleys (Sontag 2001
; Haimi 2008
; Shmueli 2012
), attests to a developed wine industry in the area during the sixth–seventh centuries CE. The lack of datable finds in the installations and the farmhouse may indicate that they were abandoned in an orderly manner. Their proximity to the winepress and the resemblance of the building materials suggest that they may have been used at the same time.