A trial excavation was conducted in May 2004 at Horbat Gilan, northeast of the ‘Iron (Barqai) interchange (Permit No. A-4166*; map ref. NIG 20325–35/71000–10; OIG 15325–35/21000–10). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the Cross-Israel Highway Project, was directed by I. Milevski, with the assistance of A. Bahar and S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration) and T. Horowitz.
Following the discovery of a soil patch that contained fragments of pottery vessels, an excavation square (4 × 4 m) was opened at the edge of a bedrock cliff, c. 100 m southeast of Horbat Gilan. Due to safety considerations the northeastern corner of the square, which bordered on a bedrock fissure, was not excavated.
Three soil strata were exposed: the light brown surface layer, reddish-brown soil mixed with small and medium-sized stones inside a shallow pit, and yellowish-brown sterile soil layered on the chalk bedrock (0.2–0.5 m below surface), sloping toward the southeast. On top of the surface layer and in the pit worn pottery fragments that mainly dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods were found. One potsherd may have belonged to the Early Bronze Age and two other fragments––to the Iron Age. The ceramic finds were probably brought to the area from other neighboring sites, several of which were excavated within the framework of the Cross-Israel Highway Project.