During October 2000 a salvage excavation was conducted in the eastern section of Nahal Kelekh (Permit No. A-3314*; map ref. NIG 18739–50/59426–40; OIG 13739–50/09426–40), following a development survey performed by Y. Lender and D. Varga. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by G. Seriy, with the assistance of H. Lavi (administration) and V. Essman (surveying and drafting).
Two squares (Areas A and B) were opened on a slope, revealing building remains probably from the Byzantine period, as well as the route of an ancient road (Fig. 1).
Area A (Fig. 2) is located on a gentle incline that sloped eastward, 15 m east of the ancient road. A room (2.7 × 2.7 m), whose three walls (W1–3; thickness c. 0.4 m) were preserved a single course high, was discovered. The walls were composed of a single row of large roughly hewn stones set on a leveled bedrock surface that probably served as the floor of the room, in whose southern corner was a pile of stone collapse. The quantity of stones was such that the excavator assumed the walls were originally 1 m high. The structure could not be dated; however, based on the construction and the several pottery fragments that were collected on surface and near the walls, it seems that the room was used as a watchman’s hut at the end of the Byzantine period.
Area B is located c. 40 m northwest of Area A, on the northern slope of the hill and c. 3 m west of the ancient road. Walls protruded above surface and in the excavated square the foundations of two walls (W8, W9; width 0.4 m), which formed the corner of a room and were preserved a single course high, were discerned (Fig. 3). The walls were built of a single row of medium-sized roughly hewn stones placed directly above bedrock. The corner of the walls was built on top of a loess accumulation. A bedrock step (height 0.3 m, width 0.8 m) was detected in the east and northeast, c. 2 m from W9. Stone walls that apparently enclosed the building were positioned on the step. It seems that W9 and the bedrock step that was parallel to it continued to the southwest, beyond the excavation area.
Approximately 1.5 m from the corner of the walls an animal pen built of one row of large fieldstones extended toward the southwest (W4; length 28 m, width c. 0.4 m; Fig. 3). Owing to the poor state of preservation and its presence outside the excavation area, only the line of the animal pen had been marked. After about 5 m the wall turned westward for an additional 23 m.
The Ancient Road (Fig. 1) took advantage of the topographic conditions of the area and descended from the top of the hill in the northwest to the plain in the southeast. The road was c. 3 m wide and flanked by large fieldstones that served as curbstones. A trial probe was excavated across the road (2 × 7 m) next to Area B. It revealed that the curbstones were set on top of a fill that consisted of soil and small stones and that the road itself was the natural soil, which was cleared and demarcated.
Despite the lack of datable finds it appears that the site should be assigned to the array of Byzantine agricultural units that surrounded Khirbat Murran, located c. 1 km to the south.