In May 2015, a trial excavation was conducted southwest of the Hemed Interchange (Permit No. A-7420; map ref. 211691/634051), prior to widening Highway 1. 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 N. Nehama (administration), M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (photography) and E. Belashov (plan).
A wall (W1; exposed length c. 6.5 m, width 0.4 m, preserved height c. 1.5 m; Fig. 1, 2) was exposed on the gentle slope of a hill. Prior to the excavation the wall was partly visible on the surface and partly covered by a stone-clearance heap (L102). More sections of the wall were apparent on the surface for a distance of c. 20 m to the southwest, beyond the limits of the excavation area. The wall was constructed on a rock terrace, in a general north–south orientation, and consisted of a single row of medium and large fieldstones. An opening (L105; width 1 m) in its northern part led to a staircase consisting of four steps, built of fieldstones (length of staircase c. 1 m; width of steps c. 0.5 m, height of each step c. 0.25 m; Fig. 3). Two walls (W2, W3; length c. 1 m, width c. 0.5 m) flanked the staircase. They were built of a single row of medium size fieldstones. East of the wall, a fill of small stones covered a high rock terrace (see Fig. 3). A section of a floor made of small fieldstones (L106), which was laid over a fill of earth and small stones, was exposed east of the staircase. A layer of ash, which was discovered beneath Floor 106, contained several fragments of pottery dating to the Byzantine period. The foundation of a wall, aligned east–west perpendicular to W1, was revealed in the northern part of the excavation area. Part of the foundation was rock-hewn, and part of it was natural (W4; length c. 4 m). At the eastern end of the foundation was a large stone (0.45 × 0.65 m) next to a rock step. The remains that were exposed in the excavation belong to the same construction phase. It seems that they were part of a small field tower, whose western wall (W1) made use of a retaining wall of an agricultural terrace. The scant quantity of sherds that were discovered was insufficient to determine the date of the construction.