Area A. A row of four squares were opened, oriented north–south (Fig. 4; all the balks were removed). Pottery sherds were unearthed on a hard limestone bedrock surface covered with a thin layer of alluvium (0.1–0.3 m). These included a bowl (Fig. 5:2) and jars (Fig. 6:5, 11, 21) from the Persian period and several sherds from the Byzantine period (not drawn). Hewn installations, including a water cistern (L103), two channels (L105, L110), a square installation (L109) and remains of a winepress (L101, L102, L104) were exposed.
Cistern 103 was found filled with brown alluvium mixed with coarse quarrying debris and various-sized fieldstones. The excavation initially reached a depth of c. 1.5 m below the cistern’s opening. A probe (L108; c. 1.5 × 3.5 m) was excavated in the southern half of the cistern to reveal its bottom. The excavation continued down another 1.6 m but the bottom of the cistern was exposed only with the aid of mechanical equipment, at a depth of c. 4.5 m. The cistern had a rectangular opening (c. 0.7–0.9 × 0.8 m, depth 1 m; Fig. 7) that gave way to a rectangular interior (c. 3.0–3.5 × 3.5 m, depth 3.6 m). Its walls were treated with two layers of gray plaster composed of clay, ash and white chalk. The thickness of the bottom layer, which served as a foundation, meant to even out the bedrock surface, was not uniform (c. 0.2–0.4 m; Fig. 8); the upper layer was thinner (c. 2 cm). Ceramic finds ascribed to the Persian period, including a bowl (Fig. 5:1) and jars (Figs. 6:3, 9), were discovered in the alluvium and quarrying debris that filled the cistern.
Channel 105 (length c. 5 m, width 0.20–0.35 m, depth 0.2–0.3 m), to its northeast, was hewn with a gradient to the northwest. The area around the cistern had been damaged by development work; thus, the purpose of the channel could not be determined. A channel (L106; width and depth c. 1.1 m) that had been severed near the opening of the cistern was exposed to its west. The channel continued to the southwest, toward a depression near the southeastern corner of Installation 109 and was apparently intended to connect the water cistern with the installation. Square Installation 109 (c. 1.4 × 1.4 m, depth 1.3 m; Fig. 9) had a squarish settling pit (c. 0.6 × 0.7 m, depth 0.33 m) in its bottom and was not plastered. Its function is unclear, although its proximity to the cistern and connecting channel suggest that it was intended to receive excess water from the cistern; the work of plastering the channel may not have been implemented. Ceramic finds from the Persian period including jars were discovered in the alluvium covering the installation (Fig. 6:2, 8, 10).
All that remained of the winepress located south of the cistern (Figs. 10, 11) survived a section of a treading floor (L111) and two collecting vats to its south (L101, L102). The treading floor and the vats were treated with homogenous plaster like that in the nearby cistern and it is therefore reasonable to assume that they were installed at the same time. Nevertheless, it is also possible that they were constructed in different periods and later, they were plastered and used together. Pottery sherds dating to Iron Age II and the Persian period were found in the soil that had accumulated in the collecting vats. The ceramic finds from Iron Age II included two bowls (Fig. 12:3, 5) and a jar (Fig. 12:6), and those dating to the Persian period included plain bowls (Fig. 5:4–6), a mortarium (Fig. 5:8), a cooking pot (Fig. 5:10), jars (Fig. 6:13, 17, 18) and a basalt bowl (Fig. 6:24).
Area B. A square (c. 4 × 4 m; Fig. 2) was opened around a section of a field wall (W501; length 2 m, height 0.4 m) built of two rows of parallel stones. One row (width 0.75 m) was constructed of fieldstones with a roughly hewn outer surface and the second row was comprised of unworked fieldstones. The wall was preserved to a height of one course. A layer of very firmly tamped alluvium (L500, L504) was east of the wall. A large concentration of small abraded pottery sherds from Iron Age II—a krater (Fig. 12:2), and the Persian period—bowls (Fig. 5:3, 7) and a jug (Fig. 6:22)—were discovered above the alluvium.
Area C. A row of four squares (S6–S9; c. 4 × 4 m; Fig. 13) was opened along an east–west axis, exposing wall remains, the southern part damaged by development work prior to the excavation. Five walls were exposed in the eastern part of the area (Sqs S6, S7). Three of the walls (W604, W609, W612; width 0.8 m; Figs. 14–16) were well-built and comprised two rows of roughly hewn fieldstones, running parallel to each other in a general north–south direction; they were founded on bedrock and survived to a height on one course. Apparently, the three similarly constructed walls were part of one large building. Extending between Walls 604 and 612 were two parallel walls built of a single row of fieldstones and oriented east–west (W607/W615, W624; Fig. 15). They were perpendicular to Walls 604 and 612 and seem to have been partition walls meant to form small architectural units. The walls were covered with compacted dark brown alluvium containing pottery finds from Iron Age II—bowls (Fig. 12:1, 4), and from the Persian period—a bowl (Fig. 5:9), a cooking pot (Fig. 5:11) and jars (Fig. 6:1, 4, 6, 7, 12, 15, 16, 19, 20) and a jug (Fig. 6:23). A pounding stone was also discovered (Fig. 6:25).
Five additional walls were exposed in the western part of the area (Sqs S8, S9). Two of them (W617, W622; Figs. 16, 17) were almost parallel to the three longitudinal walls in the eastern part of the area; however, their construction style—one row of roughly hewn fieldstones (width 0.5 m)—was different. The walls were founded on bedrock and survived to a height of one course. The two walls were built uniformly and in the same manner, although the elevation of W622 was lower than that of W617. Like the remains to their east, here too, two lateral walls extended between these walls, one fragmentary wall (W620) and a wall (W625) that adjoined the two walls. It therefore seems that the five walls belonged to one structure, and that Walls 620 and 625 were partition walls that were meant to separate architectural units. The jars (Figs. 5:12; 6:14) discovered together with the wall remains were from the Persian period.
This limited excavation revealed fragmentary architectural remains. Apparently, the complex of walls in Area C extended north, below the alluvium and outside the bounds of the excavation. Even though the walls do not join up to form a clear plan, they seem to belong to two buildings or a large building that included several rooms or wings. The building likely consisted of two phases or two periods. Judging by the proximity of the cistern, the winepress and the other installations, the remains belonged to a farmhouse.
The earliest pottery sherds in the ceramic assemblage date to Iron II. They were abraded and may have been swept into the excavation area from nearby Tel Qiryat Yeʽarim; however, they may indicate the beginning of the settlement at the site. The most common and predominant ceramic finds date to the Persian period, and they are sufficient to show the beginning or renewal of settlement there, even though the nature of this settlement was not ascertained by the excavation. Nevertheless, the finds provide a new view of the region during this period and join other contemporary finds discovered at nearby Har Adar (Dadon 1997
) and Horbat ʿEres (Mazar and Wachtel 2015
). The finds from the Byzantine period probably attest to a presence, possibly even the renewal of the settlement, which was the last period of activity at the site.