Thirty-eight squares were opened in an area (c. 50 × 60 m) that was partly probed with the aid of mechanical equipment and partly manually excavated. The site, which was inhabited by a Chalcolithic population, lay within the undulations or natural depressions of the former hamra paleo-landscape in the Ayyalon-basin, west of the present-day Nahal Ayyalon and only slightly east of a kurkar ridge, whose southern extension is still visible today in the environs of Ha-Qirya.
The poorly preserved and incomplete remains of four structures were exposed. Their foundations were built of linear alignments of kurkar stones, resting directly on sterile hamra soil. Floors of beaten earth and small stones could be associated with three of these building remains. Pits of varying sizes and depths, dug into the hamra by the Chalcolithic inhabitants, were exposed in the near vicinity of the dwellings (Fig. 1). Functionally, the pits can be subdivided into four groups:
(1) Deep, circular pits (depth 2–5 m), most likely for extracting sub-soil water, i.e., these pits were probably water wells. One of them contained the remains of a single, left-side contracted human burial in its uppermost fill level, head in the northwest and facing east.
(2) Shallow, oval to circular pits used for storage of food commodities, as deducted from the presence of large ceramic storage vessel fragments in their fill.
(3) A single cylindrical pit (depth c. 1.5 m), which was initially used as a waste pit, yielded many fish bones (Fig. 2), including some Nilotic ones; later, it served as a fireplace that contained, other than ashes and some restorable pottery vessels, burned animal bones.
(4) Shallow pits of more irregular shape and unclear function that perhaps were intended originally for waste disposal.
Finds retrieved from the various probes consisted of restorable pottery, whose better preserved diagnostic specimens derived from the last c. 0.2–0.3 m of fill within the larger depressions. The ceramics consisted of many cornets, small and medium-sized V-shaped bowls, whose rims are sometimes adorned with red paint on the interior, two intact and restricted small bowls, a few bowls on fenestrated stands, a wide variety of large basins, a few with exterior knobs, several necked jars and holemouth jars and numerous large churn fragments (Fig. 3), typical of some different subregions inhabited during the Beer Sheva cultural phase of the Chalcolithic period. A single, incised potsherd, reminiscent of the Hula Valley horizon of the Chalcolithic period, might represent an import from that valley. Other finds included flint tools, especially sickle blades with a glossy shine on one edge and bifacial adzes; flint waste and debitage; many fragments of two different types of pedestalled basalt bowls; a few grinding slabs and grinding stones; pounding stones; perforated stone beads and pendants, locally produced, as well as imported; an ivory-carved bird head (Fig. 4), probably the tip of a hair pin; stone and ceramic spindle whorls; animal bones and shells and organic materials (taken for 14C analyses). Some of the animal bones had been re-worked into tools, especially bone points. Of particular interest was the presence of over 40 animal jaws of different species (cattle, sheep/goat, pig and fish) and horn remains. These derived from a fill within a large depression that had been affected by an east–west flowing stream, possibly a drainage channel, which had cut its way through the sterile hamra and was exposed in six probes at the lower part of the hamra slope. The high concentration of animal bones could possibly indicate butchering activities on a public, rather than a private scale. Noteworthy at the site was a variety of copper tools, including a chisel, an adze, a needle and several fish hooks.
The material findings mainly belong to and date from the Ghassul IV/Beersheba phase of the Late Chalcolithic culture (the early fourth millennium BCE).
Based on a preliminary examination of the animal bones, flint tools and grinding stones, the subsistence of the Chalcolithic inhabitants at this site depended on a mixture of agriculture and husbandry. The faunal remains indicate that hippos were apparently hunted and fish supplemented the diet of the inhabitants. Furthermore, the populace participated in an interregional trade network of basalt and copper items.
The nearby presence of the perennial Nahal Ayyalon guaranteed the inhabitants a steady supply of water. The unexpected presence of a sandy gravelly water channel that had artificially reinforced banks with kurkar stones and provided the inhabitants with on-site irrigation water (Fig. 5), strongly suggests the existence of an apparent water management scheme that was executed by the original Chalcolithic inhabitants. The channel probably drained off into Nahal Ayyalon, whose original bed must have been on a lower level than that of the channel exposed in the present excavation.
The settlement was apparently forcefully abandoned because of rising water levels and insufficient drainage of the area. Subsequently, the area turned into a swamp and thick clayey-swamp deposits sealed the original settlement and its immediate surroundings. The west part of the excavated building plot contained only thick layers of marshy deposits, consisting of dark-gray, fat clays and devoid of any anthropogenic materials. These deposits directly overlaid the thick layers of sterile hamra soils and sealed off most of the settlement remains that were concentrated in the central north and east parts of the plot. The south part, which was the higher part of the hamra paleo-landscape and separated from the actual settlement by the east–west drainage channel, contained only a few pits and no architectural remains.