The present excavation was preceded by trial trenches and the mechanical removal of the surface layer, exposing potsherd surfaces and building stones along Road 1, and rock cuttings and agricultural installations in the wadi, one of the southern tributaries of Nahal ʽAnava. The excavation along the route of Road 1 unearthed the remains of a settlement, c. 150 m southeast of the Kh. Umm el-‘Umdan synagogue. A simple rock-hewn winepress was also excavated, and dams and quarries were documented along the wadi (Fig. 1).
The settlement remains were revealed in two spots, located c. 50 m apart, separated by modern drainage works. The first spot was excavated on a rock terrace (F6–F8; 2 m high; Figs. 2, 3) on whose lower part, bordering on the upper terrace, a northwest–southeast wall (W113), built of a single course of large stones (0.6 × 0.7 m) on the southward-sloping bedrock, was unearthed. The northwestern continuation of the wall (W123) was constructed on the upper rock terrace. Wall 123 (4 m preserved length) was built of a single row of medium-sized stones (0.3 × 0.5 m, 0.4 × 0.5 m) on the natural bedrock, and preserved to the height of a single course (c. 0.35 m).
The southern part of the building on the upper terrace was founded on W113, which served as the retaining wall of the building, of which one wall (W109; excavated length 2 m; Fig. 4) was preserved. The northern part of W109 abutted the rock that served as a foundation for the wall’s upper courses, which were not preserved. Wall 109 was built of two courses of dressed stones placed directly on the bedrock.
In the second spot (F9), a northwest–southeast wall was identified (W116; excavated length 3.5 m; Figs. 5, 6) that was truncated on the north by the modern drainage channel; the wall consisted of a single course laid on a leveling surface composed of small fieldstones. The wall was built of a single row of medium-sized stones (0.4 × 0.7 m, 0.35 × 0.65 m), preserved for a single course (0.4–0.5 m high).
From the limited building remains, it is possible to reconstruct a terraced settlement adapted to the sloping topography, with Wall 113 serving as a retaining wall for one or more buildings that were not preserved.
The rock surface floor (L112; see Fig. 2) and a natural hollow (L125) sealed beneath the wall bases yielded pottery from the Late Persian and Hellenistic periods: a bowl (Fig. 7:1), jars (Fig. 7:4–7) and a jug (Fig. 7:17), as well as pottery from the first century BCE–first century CE: jars (Fig. 7:12, 14, 15), juglets (Fig. 7:18, 19) and a stone vessel (Fig. 7:21). The later pottery provides the building with a probable Second Temple date, first century BCE–first century CE.
Additional pottery from the Second Temple period was retrieved from fills inside and outside the building: jars (Fig. 7:8, 9, 11, 13, 16), and an oil lamp (Fig. 7:22).
The building remains in F9 produced meager pottery finds from the first century BCE: a jar (Fig. 7:10) and a juglet (Fig. 7:20).
A few Byzantine sherds were found in small stone piles inside the Second Temple building: LRC bowls (Fig. 7:2, 3) and an oil lamp (Fig. 7:23).
About 50 m south of F9, a simple rock-hewn winepress was excavated (F5; Figs. 8, 9). The winepress comprised an irregularly shaped treading floor (4.0 m max. length, 2.5 m max. width), and an oval collecting vat (c. 0.4 m deep).
Two dams built to catch runoff water, a quarry/rock shelter were exposed in the wadi. The northern dam (F1; 25 m long, 2 m deep in center; Figs. 10, 11), was constructed of two rows of large stones (1.0 × 0.5 m) with an inner core of medium-sized stones. About five other dams, destroyed over the years by development works, were detected along the wadi. One dam, excavated in the center of the wadi, was built of medium-sized and large irregularly shaped stones that were placed along the wadi (F11; Figs. 12, 13). At the entrance to the wadi, quarries for the extraction of large stones (0.5 × 0.6 m, 0.4 m high) were documented (F2, F3; Figs. 14–16).
The excavation at Khirbat Umm el-‘Umdan unearthed the settlement’s southwestern fringes, and excavated nearby dams, quarries and a winepress that are also attributed to the rural settlement to their north. The meager architectural remains and the Second Temple pottery attest to a Jewish settlement at Umm el-‘Umdan in the Second Temple period that extended some 150 m further south to the edge of the wadi, one of the southern tributaries of Nahal ʽAnava.