During January 2012, a trial excavation was conducted at the Be’er Khalaf site in Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-6398; map ref. 19827/62326). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by R. Greenwald, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), A. Peretz (field photography) and S. Gendler (preliminary inspections).
One excavation square was opened and a round building was exposed in its center (L105; diam. 3.8 m; Figs. 2, 3). The structure, built of especially large stones, partially roughly hewn, was preserved to a maximum of three courses high (1.4 m in the north, 1.2 m in the southwest; Fig. 4). The stones were placed directly on the bedrock, which descends gently to the north (Fig. 5). The structure’s interior was filled with various size fieldstones, piled up in no particular order. The entrance to the structure was not discovered. The bedrock exposed around the building (L103, L104) was neither worked nor had any finds.
The buildings and installations in the vicinity of the excavated structure date to the Roman and Byzantine periods and the building may date to these periods as well. A similar structure situated alongside a winepress and rock-hewn basins was excavated at H
orbat Naqar (North) located c. 8 km south of the current excavation (HA-ESI 122
). As in the case of the building at H
orbat Naqar, the structure at Be’er Khalaf may also have served the farmers in the region.