During June 2007, a salvage excavation was conducted at Horbat Rahba south of Dimona (Permit No. A-5146; map ref. 202448–98/550678–723; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of a gas line. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Israel Natural Gas Line Company, Ltd., was directed by V. Nikolsky-Carmel, with the assistance of Y. Lender (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), Sky View Company (aerial photography), S. Talis (pottery reading), A. Dodin (pottery drawing), E. Aladjem (flint implements), L. Zeiger (flint drawings) and Y. Shmidov (plans).
A building dating to the Iron Age IIA and a series of farming terraces nearby were exposed (Fig. 2). An elliptical fortress from Iron Age II, located c. 150 m northwest of the current excavation, had previously been excavated. The fortress included eight rooms that surrounded a courtyard, where a rectangular building that dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods was constructed (HA 53:33–34 [Hebrew]).
Prior to the excavation, a concentration of partly hewn stones was discerned on the surface. A rectangular building (4.5×7.5 m; Figs. 3, 4) was exposed; its walls (W1–W4; width 0.6–1.0 m) were built of roughly hewn limestone, set on limestone bedrock, and preserved c. 0.3 m high. Limestone collapse that had toppled from the walls was discovered inside the building. A row of stones that probably served as a bench was built along Walls 2–4. The floor of the building was not preserved. The finds recovered from the building included a quern (Fig. 5:10), several fragments of pottery vessels from Iron Age IIA, including bowls (Fig. 5:1–4), a cooking pot (Fig. 5:5), a cooking jug (Fig. 5:6), a jug (Fig. 5:7), a jar (Fig. 5:8) and a holemouth (Fig. 5:9), as well as flint implements (below).
Abutting the western wall of the building was a farming terrace retaining wall (W6) built of fieldstones. Northwest of the building, another farming terrace (W20; Figs. 6, 7) that was built of fieldstones and preserved a single course high was partly excavated. Other terrace walls were discovered west and northwest of the building. These farming terraces constituted an agricultural complex (Fig. 8).
The flint assemblage from the site comprises 54 items, including 16 flakes, one core, 17 tools, seven primary items and 13 chunks. They are made of various raw materials that are indigenous to the immediate vicinity of the site. The flakes were knapped from several raw materials and vary in their thickness, length and width. All the flakes have a prominent bulb of percussion, probably indicating the stone knapper used a hard hammer while preparing them. The flint core was used to produce flakes and was made on a flint bulb; it is covered with a limestone cortex and has a single striking platform. The tools include five end-scrapers made on flakes, three of which are on primary items (Fig. 9:1, 4) and two regular flakes (Fig. 9:2, 3); the retouch was done on the dorsal side of the scrapers and not along the entire perimeter of the tools. There are also five side-scrapers that were made on thick blades; on one of which there is a double patina; the retouch on four of the scrapers was done on the dorsal side of the tools. The tools also included two retouched flakes, three notches (Fig. 9: 6), one denticulate and one burin (Fig. 9:5). A fragment of a lower millstone made of flint was also discovered at the site.
The raw materials used in the production of the flint items at the site include flint bulbs from wadi channels, tabular flint that was quarried in flint layers discovered inside bedrock outcrops of limestone near the site, and flint breccia that was inside conglomerate rock on the banks of wadi channels. In addition, transparent flint debitage, which comes from a large Natufian site located c. 100 m north of the excavation site, was discovered. It seems that the tools in the assemblage were made from readily available sources of flint and were used for ad hoc work and activities rather than for intensive work. The flint assemblage from the site is not characteristic of any specific period.