The excavation was conducted on a hill, within the site of Deir Abu Kabus, which was documented in the past and appears on the PEF map. A late nineteenth-century survey of the site documented architectural remains, a cistern, a cave and a Judean pier-type oil press (Guérin 1869:326; Frankel 1984: Site 151312/B). The site had never been excavated and it is now a Jewish National Fund picnic area.
The excavation was conducted in a trench (length c. 15 m; Fig. 2) created as a result of damage by a mechanical excavator. The remains of a building show evidence of two construction phases, both dated to the Hellenistic period (Fig. 3). During the excavation, ritual baths (Figs. 4, 5), remains of buildings, winepresses, walls, 'Judean piers' (Fig. 6) and caves were also documented, attesting to remains of an extensive settlement on the hill.
Remnants of an east–west wall (W1003; length c. 8.8 m; Fig. 7) built of large, dressed stones and preserved to a height of three courses were attributed to the building’s earlier phase. Collapsed stones (L1006) were uncovered on the south side of the wall. The stone foundation (W1016) of W1003 was abutted by a living surface (L1009; Fig. 8) that exploited a smoothed rock surface in its northern part; in its southern part, the bedrock had been covered with tamped earth to level the area. On the rock surface, a hewn cupmark (L1017; diam. 0.2 m, depth 0.1 m; Fig. 9) was uncovered. On the living surface, pottery dating from the Hellenistic period (second century BCE) and animal bones were retrieved.
In the later phase, W1003 continued in use and was abutted by another wall (W1005), aligned north-south, constructed of large, dressed stones and preserved to a height of two courses; the two walls formed the corner of a building. The foundation trench for the northern part of W1005 was hewn into the living surface L1009; the southern part of was built on earth fills (L1007).
In the north of the trench, a north–south wall (W1014) founded on bedrock and built of small and medium-sized fieldstones was preserved to the height of a single course. This wall is approximately 1.3 m away from the other two walls, is of a different style of construction and therefore cannot be associated with them.
Pottery. The assemblage includes characteristic local Hellenistic types that are well-known from nearby sites in the Judean Shfela (Shephelah). The finds come from fills that covered and abutted the walls. They include bowls with straight or everted sides (Fig. 10:1, 2), cooking pots that are either open (Fig. 10:3) or have a short, thickened neck and an elongated body (Fig. 10:4, 5), bag-shaped jars with a thickened rim (Fig. 10:6), jars with a rim that is outfolded and rounded (Fig. 10:7) or square in section (Fig. 10:8), jars with a collar rim and an outfolded neck a relatively short collar (Fig. 10:9, 10), a jar handle with two triangular impressions on the outside (Fig. 10:11), a small jug with a cup-shaped rim (Fig. 10:12), and a fragment of a pinched oil lamp (Fig. 10:12). The pottery assemblage is homogeneous and typologically and chronologically characteristic of the second century BCE. Since it was impossible to distinguish chronological phases in the fills abutting and covering the walls, the fills can probably be dated to the second century BCE, confirming that the walls were built in or before the Hellenistic period.
Faunal Remains. The faunal assemblage comprises eight identified bones, most of which were identified to the level of size (medium/large mammal) and not to the species level (see Appendix). The majority are sheep/goat (Capra hircus/Ovis aries) and one is a cattle bone (Bos taurus). All the bones but one (87.5%) come from body parts that are rich in meat. The limited assemblage does not allow for an understanding of the choices and preferences of the site’s inhabitants.
Small Finds. The soil fills yielded a Ptolemaic Series 5 coin minted in Tyre (220–197 BCE; IAA 172392; Fig. 11), an unidentified lead item (Fig. 12) and four flint finds: two blades and two unidentified chunks. The origin of the flint items may be at the large site of Eshta’ol.