During June 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted north of Horbat Bizqa, next to the light industrial region of Modi‘in (Ishpero Center; Permit No. A-6537; map ref. 200419–571/643416–554), prior to development. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Re’em (field photography), with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying and drafting) and Y. Nagar (physical anthropology).
Winepress (Figs. 2–4). A rock-hewn winepress was exposed; it was composed of a square treading floor (L1; 2.60×2.65 m, max. depth 0.4 m) and a square collecting vat (L2; 1.15×1.20 m; depth 1 m), which was filled with alluvium. A depression (L3) that might be a hewn cupmark was located in the southeastern corner of the treading floor. A hewn sump (L4) for draining the sediment was in the western bottom corner of the collecting vat. Part of the bedrock wall between the treading floor and the collecting vat was not preserved (L1A) and it even appeared as though the wall was destroyed as a result of deliberate quarrying, possibly for the purpose of nullifying the use of the winepress and quarrying another installation in its place. The plan of the winepress, which includes a square treading floor and a square collecting vat, suggests it can be dated to the Hellenistic, Roman or Byzantine periods.
Burial Cave (Fig. 5). A rock-hewn burial cave was exposed several meters south of the winepress. The cave was found filled with alluvium and therefore, prior to its excavation, the ceiling was removed and it was cleaned with the aid of mechanical equipment. An entrance corridor (L5; length 1.3 m, width 0.6 m; Fig. 6) with two steps that led to a rectangular opening (width 0.55 m, height 0.7 m) was hewn in the façade of the cave. Two steps led from the opening to the burial chamber (L6; 2.3×2.5 m). Loculi (L7, L8; Fig. 7) were hewn in the western and southern sides of the burial chamber. At the western end of the southern loculus was a rock-cut ledge, possibly where the head of the deceased was meant to be placed. The eastern part of the cave had collapsed; however, it appears that a loculus was also hewn there (L9). A layer of alluvium (thickness 0.1 m) was exposed above the bottom of the southern loculus and overlaying it was a skeleton of an individual, 18–21 years of age. The deceased was placed on its right side in an east–west direction, with its head in the west, facing south. This position of interment is characteristic of a Muslim burial. The bedrock sides of the cave had a tendency to crumble and therefore some of the burial chamber walls and the loculi were coated with a thick layer of light gray, lime-based plaster, containing small stone inclusions and ground charcoal (Fig. 8).
No datable finds were discovered in the cave nor is its plan of any aid in determining its date. Burial caves from the Late Iron Age–Early Persian period that are characterized by burial benches (sixth century BCE; ESI 19:54*–55*; ESI 18:82–83) and burial caves dating to the Roman and Byzantine period that are characterized by arcosolia (ESI 18:111–112) were discovered in the vicinity. The burial cave exposed at the site presumably belongs to one of these two groups of caves. It seems that the Muslim burial in the cave is a posterior interment, indicating the cave served for burial in a later period.