During May–June 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted c. 0.3 km east of Hafez Hayyim Junction and c. 1 km west of Qibbuz Hafez Hayyim (Permit No. A-5923; map ref. 17864–75/63363–74; Fig. 1), in the wake of discovering ancient remains prior to the construction of a water reservoir. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Meqorot Company and Agat Engineering Company, Ltd., was directed by D. Golan, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), A. Dayan (preliminary inspections), O. Akerman (geological consultation), P. Gendelman (pottery reading) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
The excavation was carried out in farmland on a gentle kurkar slope that is aligned northwest-southeast. Evidence of construction is witnessed in the antiquities site of Kh. es-Salluja, located on a hill c. 0.8 km southwest of the excavation area, between the settlements of Hazav and Benē ‘Ayish, which had previously been used as a quarry and a refuse dump.
Six excavation squares were opened. Cavities in the bedrock were examined and excavated in most of the area and building remains were exposed at its eastern end.
Eight cavities in the kurkar bedrock, thought to be caves, were inspected (e.g., L108; Fig. 2). The cavities (1.4–3.5 m below the surface) were irregular in shape and contained natural sandy soil devoid of finds; no signs of quarrying were discerned.
A wall (W112; length 3.3 m, width c. 1.5 m; Fig. 3), built of small fieldstones in an east–west direction and preserved three courses high, was exposed at the eastern end of the area. Overlaying W112 and slightly north of it was collapse (L105; length 1.4 m, width 0.9 m) of a wall that had probably stood on top of it and was removed or fell down.
Two fieldstone walls (W118, W119; Fig. 4) that continued beyond the limits of the excavation area were exposed c. 10 m north of W112. Wall 118 (exposed length 2.1 m, width 1.2 m), aligned northwest-southeast, was built of two courses of stones arranged in two rows. Wall 119 (length 1.9 m, width 0.55 m), aligned east–west, was built of two rows of stones and survived a single course high. The top of W119 was c. 0.6–0.7 m lower than that of W118, and it appears to have been cut by the latter.
A few potsherds, mostly worn and dating to the Roman period (second century CE), including a cooking pot (Fig. 5), were found in the vicinity of the walls.
Natural cavities are characteristic of limestoneratherthan kurkar
; however such cavities have been documented in the past (HA-ESI 122
). It is difficult to understand the building remains due to the paucity of finds, their nature and their distance from Khirbat es-Salluja.