Courtyards. Four courtyards, cleared of stones and delimited by fieldstone-built walls, were excavated (Loci 59, 60, 62, 63). The earth in the courtyards served as floor and installations were exposed in most of them. Two other courtyards could be seen within the precincts of the site but were not excavated.
Courtyard 60 (240 sq m; 12 × 20 m) was delimited in the south by a line of small clearance stones (W270) that were piled several centimeters high. A fieldstone-built wall (W267; length 8 m, width 0.4 m, height c. 0.25 m) enclosed the courtyard on the eastern side. Potsherds dating to the Early Islamic period, including a bowl (Fig. 5:2), were exposed in the courtyard. A built installation (L61; 1 × 2 m) in the northern part of the courtyard was enclosed within two walls (W288, W289; width 0.2 m, height c. 0.25 m). A non-examined heap of stones was visible within the courtyard, south of the installation. Three walls (W268, W269, W271; width 0.25 m), built a single course high, enclosed a cell (L48; 2 × 3 m) in the southeastern part of the courtyard, which was open to the north.
Courtyard 59 (72 sq m; 6 × 12 m) was surrounded by walls on four sides. The eastern and northern walls (W276, W277; width 0.75 m, preserved height 0.3 m) had been damaged in the past by mechanical equipment. On the western side of the courtyard was a short section of a wall built of fieldstones (W275) and its continuation was a wall of small clearance stones. The southern wall (W283) was built of a single course of stones. A hearth (L64) was discovered in the northeastern corner of the courtyard and several non-diagnostic potsherds and copper slag were found on the floor.
Courtyard 62 (200 sq m; 10 × 20 m) was delimited by two walls (W286, W287; width 0.25 m) that formed a corner. The walls were built of a single course of fieldstones and small clearance stones.
Courtyard 63 (c. 45 sq m; 5 × 8 m) was delimited by two walls (W278, W279). Wall 278 was built of two–three stone courses (width 0.4 m, preserved height 0.15 m). Only several stones of W279 were preserved, but its construction seems to resemble that of W278. A square installation (L49; 1 × 1 m) whose fieldstone-built walls (W280–W282; width 0.2 m) abutted W278 was exposed at the northwestern edge of the courtyard.
The second built cell (L44; Fig. 8) was exposed in the middle of the area, between Courtyards 59 and 62. Walls built of small clearance stones (W272–W274; preserved height 0.17 m) enclosed the cell on three sides, leaving it open to the north. A flint Levallois point and a copper concentrate on limestone were discovered in the cell, whose plan and dimensions were similar to Cell 48. It seems that the two were used as open prayer cells.
The building remains at the site point to a settlement of several families that existed around a source of water at Be’er Ora. The various structures and the different building materials suggest that each family determined the shape of its living quarters and decided on the materials used in its construction. Building complexes that included both courtyards and round buildings, which are characteristic of a semi-nomadic population, were exposed at the site; alongside were complexes of square buildings that are dominant in permanent settlements. The residents were probably one large tribe that consisted of several families, perhaps the same number as the cleared courtyards. These families possibly lived in tents and buildings of organic materials that did not survive and stood in the area of the cleared courtyards. It is assumed that the square building was erected during a later phase of the site. Scant ceramic finds dating to the Early Islamic period were discovered in the excavation, as well as at other sites in the vicinity of Be’er Ora. These indicate a society that produced little refuse and its domestic ware was made of wood and perishable woven plants. It is also possible that the settlement lasted for only a short period or the site was abandoned and its residents took all their possessions with them.