During February 2002 a trial excavation was conducted in Moshav Bene Darom (Permit No. A-3594*; map ref. NIG 170868–1015/636248–329; OIG 120868–1015/136248–329), after ancient remains were discovered when building a new neighborhood. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by Moshav Bene Darom, was directed by D. Barkan, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), E.J. Stern (pottery reading), A. Kamaisky (pottery restoration), M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (pottery drawing) and G. Birman (GPS).
Six squares (A–F; Fig. 1), revealing walls and installation remains that dated to the Mamluk period (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE), were opened.
Square A included two installations (L107, L109; diam. 2 m; Fig. 2), lined with mostly dressed indigenous kurkar and a few fieldstones, as well as shell conglomerate. The installations were built into a layer of natural sand and were preserved two courses high. Collapse of kurkar mixed with brown soil, which contained potsherds dating to the Mamluk period and a few animal bones, had accumulated inside them, overlaying natural sand.
Squares B and F consisted of shell conglomerate slab fragments that were found on surface and could possibly be indicative of ancient tombs, similar to those found at Newe Herzog, c. 900 m to the north (P. Fogel, pers. comm.). However, only a few pottery fragments from the Mamluk period were collected.
Square C consisted of a hearth with remains of animal bones.
Square D. Two walls (W2, W3; width c. 0.5 m; Fig. 3) that formed a corner were discovered. The walls, founded on the natural sand layer and preserved two courses high, were built of two kurkar rows that comprised some dressed stones and some fieldstones.
Square E yielded a section of a wall (length 9.9 m).
The pottery vessels recovered from the excavation were dated to the Mamluk period (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE) and probably reflect a short period of occupation. The ceramics included kraters with a thickened rim (Fig. 4:4), unglazed carinated bowls (Fig. 4:1), a few glazed bowls (Fig. 4:5) that were mainly treated with a green monochrome glaze, a bowl decorated with painting and slip and Syrian Underglaze bowls (Fig. 4:6), as well as a few fragments of mold-made glazed bowls (Fig. 4:7), a glazed krater (Fig. 4:2) and a fragment of a celadon bowl that was manufactured in China (Fig. 4:3). The cooking vessels were handmade and consisted of open cooking pots, slipped and burnished red (Fig. 4:8) and open cooking kraters. Fragments of jugs and flasks (Fig. ), mold-made or decorated with pinpricks, were found, as were a few jar rims.
The upper part of a jar, dating to the Byzantine period (Fig. 4:9), was discovered c. 40 m east of the excavation area, inside a layer of black soil mixed with organic matter.