Prior to commencing fieldwork, low-level aerial photographs of the site were taken in order to provide a better understanding of the settlement plan (Fig. 1). What seemed like the remains of an abandoned Bedouin tent camp, designated Tent 48, was discernible as a roughly rectangular cleared space demarcated by two rows of small stones at its eastern and southern limits (W100, W102). These were presumed to have held down the edges of a single tent. A drainage ditch extends from the western end of W102 across a teardrop-shaped midden, gray-brown in color. Two concentrations of Gaza Ware pottery and a grinding stone fragment were also discerned on the surface of the site (Fig. 2). Based on these initial observations, the excavation strategy focused on the removal of the top 0.1 m of sediment from each 2 × 2 m square. Where tested (e.g., Sqs A8–E8), all sediments excavated below 0.1 m were sterile. The excavated sediments were sieved through a 2–3 mm mesh.
The excavation exposed at least ten concentrations of ash and 27 hearths scattered across the site. This, combined with the alignments of the stone walls, led to a reevaluated assessment that Tent 48 did not represent the remains of a single tent, but rather the remains of at least three tents. Accordingly, W100 and W101 would were the eastern and southern edges of one tent, and W102—the edge of another tent. The latter was probably pitched at a later date, given that its guy ropes would have extended to, and perhaps beyond, W100 and W101. The drainage ditch most probably demarcates the edge of a third tent.
Recovered artifacts include a rotary grinding stone fragment, a sardine tin and its key, Gaza Ware sherds (Fig. 3), fragments of a porcelain cup, assorted metal artifacts and a personal ornament used by a woman. Several of these artifacts can be safely assigned to a relatively recent period; for example, the sardine tin cannot be earlier than 1895, and, based on a parallel artifact found at Horbat ‘Eleq, possibly dates to the early twentieth century. One recovered Gaza Ware water jar dates to 1900–1948, although this does not imply that the entire Gaza Ware assemblage should be attributed to this period, as Gaza Ware, or “gray ware”, is not a precise chronological indicator; it first appeared at the end of the Mamluk period and is usually dated between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries CE. A small amount of lithic material dated to the Pre Pottery Neolithic B period was also collected, as were some undiagnostic sherds which might be attributed to the Byzantine period (fourth–sixth centuries CE).
Charcoal samples were collected from an ash deposit in Sq A8 and from two hearths, in Sqs A11 and F2, for radiocarbon dating (see Appendix). The radiocarbon date from Sq A11 (GX-33045AMS) falls firmly within the nineteenth century CE; that from Sq F2 (GX-33046) falls between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries CE; and the sample from Sq A8 (GX-33047) is dated between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries CE. The two radiocarbon dates that fall between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries CE are particularly important, as they provide evidence that people were present then in the area, despite the absence of diagnostic artifacts dating from this period.
The artifacts and site structure of Nahal Be’erotayim (West) are similar to abandoned Bedouin tent camps that have been documented in the southern Levant. The excavation results indicate that it was intermittently occupied during the Ottoman and British Mandate periods.