During August–September 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted at 48 Ya‘akov Street in Rehovot (Permit No. A-6279; map ref. 182726–93/644848–943), prior to the construction of cultural center. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Rehovot municipality, was directed by A. Bouchenino (field photography), with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), A. Dagot (GPS), S. Yihielov (preliminary inspections), N. Zak (drafting) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
The excavation was carried out within the precincts of the large antiquities site of Khirbat Diran. Excavations at the site were conducted in the past, revealing a tomb from the Hellenistic period, a burial cave from the Roman period, architectural remains, a miqwe, an olive press, a pottery kiln and a winepress (‘Atiqot 5:69–71 [Hebrew]; I. Roll and E. Ayalon 1980. Two Large Wine Presses in the Region of the Hamra Hills in Israel. Nofim 13-14:7–25 [Hebrew]; ESI 20:93*; ‘Atiqot 56:119–144 [Hebrew]; ‘Atiqot 57:77*–90* [Hebrew]). In an excavation conducted in 1996 just east of the current excavation area remains of walls were exposed that are probably part of one or more buildings from the Early Islamic period (Permit No. A-1860; a. Sasson, pers. comm.).
Three excavation squares (A–C; 75 sq m; Figs. 1, 2) were opened. Levels of potsherds that ranged in date from the Late Roman to the Early Islamic periods were discovered in Squares A and C. A tomb and a pit dating to the Byzantine period were exposed in Square B.
Squares A and C. Fragments of pottery vessels were discovered in natural sandy hamra soil (L105, L106, L108); these included a cooking pot (Fig. 3:1), a jar (Fig. 3:8) and an amphora (Fig. 3:9) from the Late Roman period, a flask (Fig. 3:10) from the Byzantine period, and small body fragments of jugs made of buff color ware and dating to the Early Islamic period.
Square B. A pit grave (L107; 0.8×1.9 m, depth 0.35 m; Fig. 4), which was hewn in the kurkar and aligned northeast-southwest, was discovered in the south of the square. Several bones (not examined) were uncovered in the grave. The covering stones of the tomb (0.3–0.4×0.8 m) were found in the square, ex situ. The soil fill in the grave contained ribbed body sherds of baggy-shaped jars from the Byzantine period. An irregular shaped pit (L104; Fig. 5) was exposed in the north of the square. It was dug in sandy hamra soil beneath the kurkar. The soil fill in the pit containedjar fragments (Fig. 3:2–7) dating to the Byzantine period.
The ceramic artifacts recovered from the excavation were mixed, probably due to their proximity to the ancient remains at Khirbat Diran. No architectural remains were discovered in the area, possibly because it was located outside the built-up zone of the ancient settlement and possibly because the site was damaged during the construction of a movie theater in 1932, which was still standing in the area until recently.