The general orientation of the buildings is northwest-southeast. Most of the buildings were filled with mud-brick material, indicating that the walls were built of mud bricks, which were set on top of stone foundations. No stone collapse was found on the floors. The foundation of the buildings consisted of different size wadi pebbles and kurkar stones, some of which were ashlars that originated in the walls of the bathhouse and were dismantled after that structure was no longer in use. The poor preservation of most remains at the site was a result of prolonged habitation in antiquity, accompanied by the repeated use of building stones and intensive modern agricultural activity. Thus, the walls of the buildings were preserved to just the level of the foundations or a maximum of a single course high above the floors.
Area A. Remains of a large bathhouse (c. 20 × 20 m; Fig. 1), ascribed to Stratum 5, were exposed in the northern part of the area. It seems that the bathhouse was constructed at the end of the Late Roman period and continued to function, with repairs and slight modifications, until the middle of the Byzantine period. The hypocaust was dug into the natural soil; its bottom was paved with square ceramic tiles and its ceiling rose to c. 1 m high. The columnettes that supported the ceiling were built of square and round ceramic slabs bonded with concrete. The hot room (caldarium) was paved with marble slabs (c. 1 × 1 m), positioned in the center of the floor and surrounded by a band of smaller marble tiles; the tiles were found on the bottom of the hypocaust after its ceiling collapsed (Fig. 2). A series of warm rooms (tepidarium) was in the north and east of the building and a shallow plastered pool was in the southeast of the building. It seems that the bathhouse was no longer used following the collapse of the hypocaust’s ceiling, prior to the sixth century CE. After a large part of its walls was dismantled and its rooms were filled with refuse (Stratum 4), the bathhouse remains were used as a pottery workshop (Stratum 3) and a kiln (diam. c. 5 m, depth c. 2 m) was installed in its northwestern corner. During the Early Islamic (Stratum 2) and the Mamluk (Stratum 1) periods, several large refuse pits were dug into the structure, causing further destruction to the bathhouse remains.
Several sections of walls and a cistern were found in the southern part of the area. Due to their poor state of preservation, it was not possible to identify the outline and function of the buildings to which these walls belonged. Based on the ceramic and numismatic finds discovered on fragmented floors of tamped earth and in the fill beneath them, it seems that the buildings were constructed in the Byzantine period (Stratum 4) and probably went out of use at the end of the period (Stratum 3).
Area B is the largest of the excavation areas; remains of five large dwellings, a limekiln and a water channel were uncovered (Fig. 3). Based on the pottery and coins that overlaid the buildings’ floors, it seems that three of the five dwellings (Buildings 1–3) were erected in the early phase of the Byzantine period and belonged to Stratum 4.
Only the southwestern part of Building 1 (c. 10 × 15 m; Fig. 4), located in the southern part of the area and c. 50 m north of the bathhouse, was exposed; a limekiln (diam. 3.2 m, depth 1.5 m; Stratum 3) was installed inside the building after it was no longer in use. Building 2 (c. 10 × 16 m; Fig. 5), exposed c. 30 m northwest of Building 1, included three interior spaces, as did Building 3 (c. 10 × 15 m; Fig. 6), which was c. 7 m southwest of it. A stone pavement that mostly consisted of flagstones in secondary use, some of which were marble, was installed in one of the Building 3 spaces (Fig. 7). Two sections of a drainage channel (length c. 14 m, width c. 0.2 m), built of concrete and coated with hydraulic plaster, were exposed alongside the foundations of the building’s northern wall and at the same elevation. Concentrations of baggy-shaped store jars were found in situ, standing in some spaces of Buildings 2 and 3. At the northeastern end of the area, c. 10 m northeast of Building 3, a section of another building (4), which mostly extended beyond the limits of the excavation, was exposed; the building probably belonged to Stratum 4.
When at least the northern parts of Buildings 2 and 3 were no longer in use and some of their walls were dismantled, another large building (5; Stratum 3) was erected on top of Building 3’s northern part and next to the northern wall of Building 2. Only part of Building 5 (c. 15 × 30 m), which consisted of at least five spaces, was exposed. Some of the spaces maintained the same general orientation of Buildings 2 and 3 and their walls were constructed above or next to the walls of the earlier buildings; the two eastern spaces of Building 5 deviated from this direction and were aligned north–south. The finds on the floors of the building seem to indicate that at the earliest, it was constructed at the end of the sixth century CE and went out of use no later than the second half of the seventh century CE.
Area C. Remains of a large residential structure (c. 15 × 25 m) that included five areas were excavated. Based on the pottery vessels and the coins in the building, it was probably built in the sixth century CE and continued to exist with slight changes until the end of the Byzantine period (Strata 4, 3).
Area D. Meager remains of a building’s corner (c. 2 × 11 m) whose walls were robbed to their foundations were found. The structure could not be dated as it was devoid of finds.
The excavation finds, along with the finds from the previous excavations, show that a large rural settlement existed at the site from the Late Roman until the end of the Byzantine periods; its economy was based on agriculture, wine production and the manufacture of pottery. It seems that most of the settlement in the Roman and the beginning of the Byzantine periods (Stratum 5) extended across the hill east of Highway 25, whereas the bathhouse was located at the western end of the settlement. The bathhouse ceased to be used during the Byzantine period and over time it became the settlement’s rubbish dump. It seems that a short time afterward, in the sixth century CE, another change occurred in the course of the settlement, which is manifested in an extensive construction project that greatly enlarged the site (Strata 4, 3). It seems that the settlement ceased to exist in the Early Islamic period, the second half of the seventh century CE. Meager ceramic finds, which originated from a few refuse pits, signified a renewal of activity at the site in the eighth century CE (Stratum 2) and again in the twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE (Stratum 1), but on a much smaller scale than the settlement of the earlier periods.
The location of the site on the road that leads from Gaza to Be’er Sheva‘ and the Judean Shephelah, the remains of the bathhouse, which is one of the largest found to date in the Negev, and the other unique artifacts, such as flasks decorated with the image of Saint Menas that were used by Christian pilgrims for carrying holy water, attest to the importance of the site in the Roman and Byzantine periods.