During December 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted in Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-6077; map ref. 198222–237/623449–465; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by D. Storchan, with the assistance of R. Abu-Halaf (administration), V. Essman (surveying), R. Greenwald (archeological inspection), and N. Zak (drafting).
One large excavation square (46 sq m) was opened around a square field tower (outer dimension 4 × 4 m, inner dimension 2.5 × 2.5; Fig. 2). The tower was located on the southern slope of a moderate hill, south of Ramat Bet Shemesh. To the south of the excavation area, on the crest of a neighboring hill, remains of a farmstead were discerned.
The field tower's walls (W1–W4), preserved to a maximum of three courses high (1 m), were built of large fieldstones set directly on the natural sloping bedrock. The outer face of the walls was generally flat, whereas the stones of the inner face were placed in a less meticulous manner. Additionally, large boulders were placed at each of the tower's corners. Two parallel voids at the southern ends of Walls 3 and 4 may have been purposefully constructed to serve as windows.
Following the removal of the topsoil and scattered large stones, deemed as collapse from the tower's walls, a layer of packed earth and small stones (L105; Fig 3) was uncovered. The complete removal of this layer, which was devoid of any artifacts, revealed the natural bedrock (Fig. 4). It seems that the small stone layer was intentionally placed to level out the sloping bedrock and serve as the tower's floor. Although no remains of the tower's entranceway were located, it seems likely to have been in the south, due to the natural sloping topography. Excavation in the area surrounding the tower revealed the natural bedrock and a few potsherds, all from the Byzantine period.
Construction of the field tower, based on the limited ceramic assemblage, can be dated to the Byzantine period. In addition, multiple simple rock-cut installations were found in the area of the excavation during archaeological inspection of the construction activities. Multiple terrace walls, built of medium-sized fieldstones, were discerned in the valley to the south of the tower. These terrace walls and the rock-cut installations indicate the presence of ancient farming activity in the area. Nearby, south of the Ella Valley, a similar field tower, dating to the Early Roman period, was excavated near Moshav Adderet (HA-ESI 122
Field towers, similar to the one excavated, were used and documented in modern times as multipurpose structures built in agricultural fields, providing storage and shelter during intensive agricultural seasons and as strategically placed lookout points.