From June to September 2004, a development survey was conducted along a proposed alignment for a new internal road (Permit No. A-4181*; NIG 190922–191842/627165–628500; OIG 140922–141842/127165–128500). The survey, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by DEL Engineering Group, was directed by H. Stark, with the assistance of D.A. Sklar-Parnes, Y. Billig, A. Nagorsky and L. Barda (GPS/GIS).
The proposed road alignment leaves a paved road, continues north along the western bank of the Nahal Timna valley, crosses over the valley near Kh. ‘Amra and continues up north to a plateau (elevation of c. 200 m asl). The entire area was covered with thick Mediterranean vegetation and ground cover. The road passed near a number of regional sites, including H. ‘Aqod (Kh. Umm el ‘Uqud), Beiyarat Bureij (Kh. Umm Zubeila), H. ‘Omarim, Be’er Tirosh (Kh. Umm el-Autad), H. Pered (Kh. Farad), and Kh. Batashi.
A route (length 4.3 km, width 50 m) was surveyed and over 40 sites were identified (Fig. 1). The majority of sites were connected with agriculture: terrace walls, clearance heaps, rock-cut installations, stone fences and field walls, although a burial cave, a quarry, a rock-cut water cistern and the remains of a small group of buildings were also recorded. The ceramic evidence was poor; very little pottery was found on surface, generally dating to the Byzantine period.
Sites 9–13. A complex group of agricultural installations (map ref. NIG 191267/627600; OIG 141267/127600) covered an area of c. 30 × 30 m. Site 9 was a rectangular enclosure (10 × 20 m), built of dry-laid fieldstones and preserved to an average of 1.5 m high, which may have functioned as an animal pen. Site 10 was the remains of a collapsed rock-cut cave. Nearby and next to it was a partially buried block of cut stone (length 1.8 m, width 0.8 m, height 0.75 m), which could be the remains of an olive press (Site 11). Further west two adjacent rock-hewn winepresses were discerned. Site 12 had a rectangular treading floor (1.5 × 3 m) and Site 13 had a smaller floor (1 × 2 m) and the remains of a collecting vat (1 × 2 m) to the east. Below the winepresses was a rock-cut water cistern with a circular opening (diam. 1.5 m). Around them were scattered cup marks. Entry into the cistern was not possible; however, a rock-cut pillar supporting the roof of the cistern was visible.
Site 18. A rock-cut burial cave (map ref. NIG 191431/627264; OIG 141431/127264; Fig. 2) was noted on a bedrock outcrop. The rectangular entrance (0.5 × 0.7 m) was set within a carved frame and faced northeast. Marks in the surrounding bedrock suggested the presence of a forecourt, while a pile of earth in front of the entrance indicated the tomb had been partially looted. Caves with similar shaped entrances in the Jerusalem area were dated to the Second Temple period.
Site 19. Adjacent to the cave were the remains of a stone quarry (at least 10 × 10 m; Fig. 3). The average size of the negatives was 1.0 × 1.5 m.
Sites 28 and 30. At the northern most end of the proposed road, on a low hill (map ref. NIG 191349/630093; OIG 141349/130093) were the remains of stone foundations
(c. 50 × 50 m). The remains of a pathway (Site 30) led from the site toward a rock-cut cistern (Site 28); nearby were rock-cut installations and the collapsed remains of a large cave.
The survey results suggest intensive agricultural activity along the west bank of Nahal Timna. The burial cave and the quarry hint at the possibility of a small settlement or farm, existing in the southern part of the surveyed area. Another settlement, with a pathway, caves and a water cistern, is posited in the north of the area.