During July 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted on Ben Gamla Street in Hod Ha-Sharon (Permit No. A-6567; map ref. 19036–8/67426–30; Fig. 1), prior to widening the road. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Dagesh Engineering—Traffic and Road Planning, Ltd., was directed by D. Masarwa, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), H. Ben-Ari (GPS), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing) and A. Gorzalczany (guidance).
The site is located near Kefar Malal, on a small hill called Khirbat al-Haya; the original name of the moshav—‘En Hāy—was derived from the hill’s name. Ben Gamla Street crosses the hill from north to south along an old trail that preceded the founding of ‘En Hāy (1912), Magdi’el (1924) and Ramatayim (1925).
After removing the surface soil layer (thickness 0.1 m), two squares (1, 2; Fig. 2) were opened and remains of an olive press dating to the Early Islamic period were exposed.
The pressing area, which was a circular surface, built of ashlars (L110; diam. 1 m), where oil was extracted after the crushing of olives, was exposed in Sq 1. The pressed oil was first collected in a channel (L112; Fig. 3) hewn around the surface and then, it drained into a channel (L109; Fig. 4) hewn in the surface’s northeastern side. Channel 109 conveyed the oil by way of a pipe that was hewn in a stone section (Figs. 2: Section 1–1, 5) to a collecting vat north and northeast of the pressing area. The collecting vat was not excavated, but two of its openings and its eastern side were exposed. The vat’s openings (L108, L113; Fig. 6) were built of dressed stones and their edges were dressed to facilitate the placement of covers. The northern opening (L108; 0.4×0.5 m) was the larger of the two; the other opening (L113; 0.3×0.4 m) was at the eastern end of Channel 109 and was apparently used to regulate the flow of the oil. The vat’s eastern side was built and coated with hydraulic plaster.
Two sections of a stone pavement (L101; Fig. 7) were exposed in Sq 2. They had been severely damaged because of their close proximity to the surface, as well as a tree that was planted west of the square and its roots destroyed the ancient remains. The pavement consisted of ashlars and small and medium fieldstones. Although the function of the pavement is unclear, it was presumably related to the olive press complex.
The ceramic finds included a glazed bowl (Fig. 8:1), kraters (Fig. 8:2, 3), jugs (Fig. 8:4–6), a lamp (Fig. 8:7) and a flask (Fig. 8:8), all dating to the Abbasid period.
The exposed remains belong to a type of olive press that is rare in Israel. Olive presses were usually built directly on the bedrock, whereas in this instance the olive press was hewn in medium and large ashlars that were embedded in hamra soil. In addition to the olive press, which included a pressing area and a collecting vat, remains of two stones weights of an olive press had previously been uncovered and are currently displayed on the lawn in front of the town hall, alongside Derekh Ramatayim. The hill was probably selected for producing olive oil because of its location on an ancient road that ran from a region where olives were grown in the Samarian foothills to Arsuf on the Mediterranean coast.