In November–December 2016, a trial excavation was undertaken in the northern part of Sederot (Permit No. A-7832; map ref. 16175/60454; Fig. 1) prior to construction of a new neighborhood. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by D. Varga, with the assistance of Y. Alamor (administration), N. Lect Ben Ami, N.D. Michael and D. Eisenberg-Degen (area supervision and field photography), M. Kahan and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), as well as the Nizan and Mizpe Ramon pre-military programs and workers from Qiryat Gat and Ashqelon.
Two excavation areas were opened (A, B; Fig. 2), c. 30 m apart, about 1.5 km southwest of Ḥorbat Neged. In Area A, a winepress and a cistern were discovered, and Area B revealed another cistern and refuse pits. All the remains were dated to the Byzantine period.
Approximately 250 m north of the present excavation, a 2016 trial excavation (Permit No. A-7676) uncovered a vault tomb, a complex winepress and meager building remains. A year later, an extensive salvage excavation at Ḥorbat Neged uncovered remains from the Late Roman to the Abbasid periods (third–ninth centuries CE): a church, a mosque, dwellings, winepresses, a fish pool and storerooms (Varga and Kobrin 2018). It thus seems that the remains uncovered in the present excavation were part of the agricultural hinterland of the Byzantine-period settlement at nearby Ḥorbat Neged.
Winepress. The excavation uncovered a badly damages built winepress (Fig. 3). It featured a treading floor (L22; 6 × 7 m), a rectangular settling basin (L33; 1.2 × 1.5 m) and a round collecting vat (L31; diam. 2.7 m, depth 1.7 m); the fermentation cells and additional components known from other winepresses of this type did not survive. The treading floor has enclosing walls on the east, west and south (W19–W21). It was paved with kurkar slabs (0.3 × 0.6 m), but these were apparently robbed after the winepress went out of use. In the center of the treading floor was a square pit (L26; 0.5 × 0.5 m) for the pressing apparatus; an underground channel led from the pit to the settling basin. An underground channel, which was completely preserved, led from the settling basin to the collecting vat.
Cistern. East of the winepress was a round hewn cistern (L23) with a square opening built over its mouth (Fig. 4). A semicircular pool (L35), featuring two steps and a settling basin, was built to the west of the cistern’s opening. At least one trough (L34) was built immediately to the south of the cistern’s opening. The trough was paved with slabs taken from the winepress treading floor, which had apparently gone out of use by this time. Only a few poorly preserved channel segments were found between the pool and the winepress, hence the connection between the two installations remains unclear.
Finds.The meager pottery assemblage unearthed in Area A was dated entirely to the Byzantine period (fifth–early seventh centuries CE). The most prominent vessels were storage jars, mainly Gaza jars (body fragments only) and bag-shaped jars (Figs. 5:6–8). Also found were a few bowls (Fig. 5:2), basins (Fig. 5:3) and body fragments of cooking pots and jugs. Several glass fragments were also discovered, mainly of bottles, which were dated to the Late Roman and Byzantine periods.
Cistern. A cylindrical cistern (L205; exposed depth 2 m; Fig. 6), preserved almost in its entirely except for the upper part, was only partially excavated due to safety considerations. To its northwest was a built rounded trough (L202) coated with white plaster. Pottery vessels dating from the Byzantine and Ottoman periods (black Gaza Ware) were found discarded in the cistern, as well as modern-day refuse.
Refuse pits (L214, L222) discovered north of the cistern contained pottery vessels from the Byzantine period.
Pottery.Area B yielded mainly Gaza jars (Fig. 5:9, 10), a bowl (Fig. 5:1), a flask (Fig. 5:4) and a bag-shaped jar (Fig. 5:5).
Varga D. and Kobrin F. 2018. Ḥorbat Neged. HA-ESI 130.