In September 2014, a trial excavation was conducted in Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-7217; map ref. 197623–874/623013–172; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by I. Zilberbod, with the assistance of R. Abu Halaf (administration), V. Essman, M. Kunin and M. Kahan (surveying and drafting) and A. Peretz (photography).
A wall (W101; Fig. 2) and two hewn winepresses (F15, F16) were exposed in an agricultural area, c. 1 km south of Tel Yarmut and c. 2 km northwest of Horbat Bet Natif. The wall and winepresses were documented in a survey previously carried out in the area (License No. S-183/2010).
Wall 101 (Figs. 3, 4). The top of a wall (length c. 25 m), aligned in a northwest–southeast direction, was discerned on the surface of a moderate hillside that descends toward the northeast. A probe excavated in the northwestern part of the wall revealed that it was constructed of a row of large fieldstones with small and medium-sized stones in between, and was preserved to a height of three courses. A prominent bedrock outcrop (height c. 0.2 m) was located c. 2 m south of the wall. On the bedrock between the two was a tamped layer of earth, at the bottom of which were small stones (L143; thickness 0.2–0.3 m); a small amount of pottery dating to the Byzantine period was discovered in this layer. Collapsed fieldstones and a layer of soil (L141) on the bedrock below were found north of the wall. It seems that W101 served as a retaining wall of a road that connected cultivation plots.
Winepress F15 (Figs. 5, 6). A rock-hewn winepress, of uncertain plan, was exposed near the bottom of the slope. Two phases were identified in the winepress. In the first phase, the installation consisted of a square collecting vat (L153; c. 3 × 3 m, depth c. 1 m), a dressed bedrock surface that served as a treading floor (L151) that was connected to Vat 153 by two channels (L152, L154; width c. 0.2 m, depth c. 0.15 m) and an irregularly shaped vat (L157; Fig. 7) that was partly natural and partly rock-cut, which was linked to Vat 153 by a shallow channel (L155). A shallow, round depression (L156; diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.25 m) was revealed west of Vat 153. In its second phase, the winepress may have included two treading floors and a single collecting vat. Collecting vat 153 was enlarged and converted into a treading floor; Collecting Vat 157 continued to be in use alongside it. A cupmark (L158) was discovered c. 20 m northeast of the winepress.
Winepress F16 (Figs. 8, 9) consisted of a treading floor (L161) that was partly hewn and partly natural and a collecting vat (L164; Figs. 10, 11). A sump (L165) was hewn in the floor of the collecting vat. Two channels (L162, L167) with sumps (L163, L164) connected the treading floor to the collecting vat.