During November and December 2018, a salvage excavation was conducted along the south bank of Nahal Yish‘i, within the declared antiquity site of Horbat Gannim and c. 500 m west of Tel Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-8379; map ref. 196833–7090/628615–874, 197151–415/628023–374; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of a sewage pipeline and following the discovery of archaeological remains in trial trenches dug at several points along the course of the pipeline. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Mei Shemesh Water Department Ltd., was directed by O. Shalev, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), M. Kahan (surveying), A. Gruber (pre-excavation trial trenches), Y. Weingarten (stone finds), S. Gendler (metal detection), I. Reznitsky (metal cleaning), D.T. Ariel (numismatics) and I. Lidsky-Reznikov (finds drawing).
The top of the field wall in Area B was encountered c. 1.2 m below the surface. The wall (W203; excavated length c. 5 m, width 0.4 m; Figs. 3, 4) was built on a general north–south alignment, parallel to the streambed, of a single row of medium-sized fieldstones (c. 0.3 × 0.3–0.5 m) without bonding material; it was preserved to a height of two courses (c. 0.5 m). To the southwest of the wall was a layer of chalk stones (L205), probably a deliberate fill that was placed beside the wall to reinforce it or to level an area for some agricultural activity. Fill 205 yielded a few potsherds dating from the Early Roman to the Byzantine periods. Nothing in these finds provides an exact date for the wall’s construction; the most that can be determined is that it could not have occurred prior to the Byzantine period. On the northeast side of the wall, facing Nahal Yish‘i, was a layer of brown soil (L204), apparently a natural alluvial deposit. Although it included eroded and worn potsherds, two coins were also found: one is Hasmonean (115–76 BCE; IAA 165540), and the other could not be identified, but its shape suggests that it is an unstruck flan from the fifth–sixth centuries CE.
Abraded ceramic finds were also discovered in the other excavation squares, along with several flint items and glass shards. An ovoid artifact made of local limestone (0.35 × 0.45 m; Fig. 5) with an elliptical, smoothed hollow (0.19 × 0.22 m) hewn in the center, was recovered from the surface in the northwestern square of Area A (Fig. 2); a worn, circular hole (diam. 8 cm) was perforated in the center of the hollow. The item probably had two phases of use: it was first used as a grinding stone, and at a later stage a hole was cut into the center of the hollow, thus converting it into a door socket. The stone artifact was found ex situ, and thus it may have rolled there from the nearby site.
The field wall unearthed in the excavation belonged to the agricultural hinterland of nearby Horbat Gannim. The wall’s proximity to the streambed of Nahal Yish‘i suggests that its construction was intended to divert the water flowing down the stream, although it may have functioned as a retaining wall for an agricultural terrace that extended at a higher level. The date of its construction cannot be determined with any certainty. It may have been built in the Byzantine period, which was one of the main settlement periods at Horbat Gannim (Sion 2017).