In August 2016, a trial excavation was conducted in Ofaqim Park (Permit No. A-7775; map ref. 165573–643/577989–8073) after mechanical equipment damaged ancient remains. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ofaqim Economic Company, was directed by O. Shmueli (field photography), with the assistance of H. Mamalya (area supervision), M. Balila, S. Gal and Y. Al-ʽAmor (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), I.E. Delerson (plans), S. Gal (G.I.S. applications) and A. Peretz (studio photography). Youth from Ofakim participated in the excavation.
The site is located on the loess plains south of Ofaqim, c. 0.5 km west of Nahal Ofaqim (Fig. 1). It was discovered during an archaeological survey in an area slated for construction. Remains of a building (c. 17 × 20 m, max. wall width 1 m) constructed of medium-sized fieldstones and preserved to a height of one course were identified. A fragment of a stone item, possibly a capstone of a well, was discovered among the ruins of the structure (License No. S-619/2015; M. Oron, internal report).
Several sites were identified near the banks of Nah
al Ofaqim. About 0.5 km to the southeast is H
, a settlement site ascribed to the Byzantine period. Approximately 1.5 km to the northeast is the Iron Age settlement site, Tel Manoah
. About 3 km north is H
ish, which is dated to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. Settlement remains from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were also found at Tel Manoah
(Nahlieli and Israel 1990
; Paran 2000
). According to Gazit (1988
), settlements in the western Negev during modern times consisted of rural Arabs and Bedouins. With the outbreak of the War of Independence, and prior to the Egyptian invasion, many villages were abandoned when most of the Arab population in the area relocated to the Gaza Strip.
Six and a half excavation squares were opened, exposing the remains of wall foundations and sections of floors. These were part of a farmhouse from the Late Ottoman period and the time of the British Mandate. Wall foundations (W10, W11) made of medium-sized river pebbles founded on sandy loess were revealed in the western part of the excavation (Sqs D8/9–F9). Evidently, the wall was built of bricks, which did not survive. A section of another wall foundation (W13) was exposed to the east. A floor made of tamped clay (L103, L119, L120, L122) abutted the walls. Part of a pit (L116, L121), probably dug when the farmhouse was still in use, was dug into the floor. Stones mixed with modern objects were uncovered in the southwestern square (D8).
A section of the farm’s courtyard was revealed in the eastern part of the excavation (Sqs G8, H8). Its floor consisted of tamped clay (L109, L113, L115). An irregularly shaped refuse pit partially exposed in the courtyard (L114; Fig. 3) contained ash, pottery sherds and a rifle cartridge that probably dates from World War I. Part of an installation made of tamped clay and small stones (W12; Fig. 4) was also exposed.
Fragments of gray Gaza Ware vessels found in the excavation date from the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century CE. These include plain bowls with carinated rims (Fig. 5:1–3), a krater with a plain rim decorated with ribbing (Fig. 5:4), jugs with a ridge on the neck (Fig. 5:5, 6), jars with a tall neck (Fig. 5:7–11) and a long-stemmed tobacco pipe (Fig. 5:12). A limestone pounding vessel (Fig. 6) was also found.
Remains of a farmhouse built near the water of Nahal Ofaqim were exposed in the excavation. The structure consisted of rooms and an open courtyard, and was used in the Late Ottoman period and during the British Mandate.
Gazit D. 1988. The History of Man in the Besor Region. In A. Livneh ed. The Besor Region: A Survey of Landscapes and Itineraries. Jerusalem. Pp. 85–121 (Hebrew).
Nahlieli D. and Israel Y. 1990. Horbat Pattish. ESI 7–8:145–146.
Paran N.S. 2000. Horbat Pattish. HA-ESI 111:88*–90*.