During March 2012, an archaeological survey was conducted in the region of Nahal Patish and Nahal ‘Ashan (License No. S-342/2012; map ref. 175432–7386/577966–80092), prior to preparing the ground for planting. The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Jewish National Fund, was directed by D. Varga, S. Talis and E. Aladjem, with assistance of S. Gal (GPS).
A survey preceding development (S-42/2008) was performed in 2008 northeast of the current survey area, where remains of cisterns, watchman’s huts and farms from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were found. The current survey supplements the previous one and was conducted along the northwestern fringes of the latter. The survey area, which included mainly the northern bank of Nahal Patish and the western bank of Nahal ‘Ashan, is characterized by a hilly landscape.
Two large sites are in the region: H
orbat Karkur ‘Illit from the Byzantine period, which was excavated for several seasons (1989–1995; Figueras 2004
) and a site from the Chalcolithic period (Fig. 1), which was excavated in 2008 and where remains of habitation levels and underground complexes dating to the Chalcolithic period were discovered (HA-ESI 121
; HA-ESI 122
Nine sites (1–9) were surveyed:
1. Map ref. 175892/578737 (Fig. 2). A structure (8×10 m) built of undressed fieldstones, probably a large watchman’s hut.
2. Map ref. 175892/578880 (Fig. 3). A farming terrace built of fieldstones and preserved two courses high.
3. Map ref. 175432/580092 (Fig. 4). A cistern hewn in a qirton terrace; it has a round opening (diam. 1.2 m) and signs of wear on its sides from the ropes that were used to draw water from it.
4, 5. Map ref. 177146/577146 (Figs. 5, 6). Piles of small and medium fieldstones on a high ridge, possibly stone clearance heaps or tombs (3×5 m).
6. Map ref. 177393/577781 (Fig. 7). A building with a courtyard, located on a hilltop looking out to the south over Nahal ‘Ashan and north over one of its tributaries. The building has at least two rooms and an open courtyard to its east (10×20 m).
7, 8. Map ref. 177515/578002 (Figs. 8, 9). Two watchman huts, each with a single room, constructed from undressed fieldstones.
9. Map ref. 177364/577855 (Fig. 10). A structure with at least three rooms. Its walls are preserved to a maximum of five courses high. The building had previously been excavated by Y. Baumgarten (HA-ESI 117
The surveyed sites were probably part of the agricultural system that belonged to the settlement at Horbat Karkur ‘Illit in the Byzantine period.
Figueras P. 2004. Horvat Karkur 'Illit: A Byzantine Cemetery Church in the Northern Negev: Final Report of the Excavations 1989–1995. Be’er Sheva.