In November 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted at the Nahal Shoval site (Permit No. A-7243; map ref. 17988/59103; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of utility poles. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Israel Electric Company, was directed by N.S. Paran, with the assistance of Y. Al-ʽAmor (administration), E. Aladjem (area supervision), M. Kunin and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting) and I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing). Additional help was rendered by S. Talis and F. Sonntag of the Beersheba and Northern Negev District of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The Nahal Shoval site, located between Devira Junction and Lehavim Junction, is bisected by Highway 40. The road was first paved in the 1970s and was expanded to two lanes in 1991. An excavation conducted prior to an additional widening of the road yielded a ritual bath (miqveh; Israel 1992). In 1998, a building from the Early Islamic period was excavated west of the road (Daniel 2005). In 2004, an excavation carried out slightly west of the road revealed a natural pit that contained ancient remains (Paran 2008). Another salvage excavation, conducted in 2012, took place on both sides of Highway 40, prior to widening the road and integrating it with Highway 6 (Permit No. A-6362). In this excavation, two areas were opened: near the previously exposed miqveh, to the east of the road, where a settlement with an additional miqveh was revealed; and to the west of the road, where settlement remains were also uncovered.
The previous excavations indicate that the site consists of three strata (3–1) on a natural hill: Stratum 3 dates from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE) and includes ritual baths; Stratum 2, in which two phases were discerned, dates from the Early Islamic period (seventh–ninth centuries CE), following a hiatus of about one hundred years, and found 0.6–1.0 m above Stratum 2; and Stratum 1 dates from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods (fourteenth–sixteenth centuries CE) and was identified only in the highest area, right below the surface. The pottery sherds from the latter layer were collected from the surface. Although finds from the Herodian period (first century BCE – first century CE) were discovered in the pit excavated in the past (Paran 2008), this particular period was never identified as a discrete stratum in any of the other excavations.
In the current excavation, one square was opened on the slope northeast of the site. The finds ascertain that the settlement did not extend as far as this point. The natural bedrock was overlain with a layer of soil (thickness 0.5–0.8 m) mixed with organic matter, pottery sherds and building stones that had eroded from the site and accumulated in an unstratified manner on the slope. In addition, one and one-half squares (Figs. 2, 3) were opened in the southeastern part of the site, yielding remains that were ascribed to Strata 2 and 3. The tops of the walls from Stratum 2 were found near the surface; Stratum 1 was not observed. The excavation finds are in keeping with what is known from previous excavations at the site, and they supplement the information regarding the layout and character of the site.
Stratum 3. A tamped-earth floor (L1012) was founded on the bedrock. It abutted a wall (W4) that delimited it on the west. Several pottery sherds were recovered from the floor, including a fragment of a bag-shaped jar (Fig. 4:1) that dates from the Byzantine period.
Stratum 2. A layer that dates from the Early Islamic period was revealed c. 0.6 m above the floor of Stratum 3: a wall (W1) that ran down the middle of the square, which was adjoined from the north by an L-shaped wall (W2), probably an installation. A pounded-chalk floor (L1005) abutted the walls. A third wall (W3) adjoined W1 from the south. A tamped-earth floor (L1009) was located in the southwest of the square. East of W3 was a tamped-earth floor (L1007) and above it—a layer of ash that contained fragments of a tabun.
The pottery sherds found in this stratum include a cooking pot with a cut rim (Fig. 4:2), a decorated Fine Byzantine Ware jug (Fig. 4:3), a jar (Fig. 4:4), a rim and a neck of a flask (Fig. 4:5) and a decorated lamp (Fig. 4:6).
Daniel Z. 2005. Nah
al Shuval. HA-ESI 117
Israel Y.M. 1992. Nahal Shoval. ESI 10:154.
Paran N.S. 2008. Nahal Shoval. HA-ESI 120.