In 2002, a salvage excavation was conducted at Elʽad (Permit No. A-3653; map ref. 19660/66202; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by I. Zilberbod, with the assistance of B. Artzi (area supervision), H. Dangor (administration), A. Hajian and T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography), N. Zak (plan) and I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing).
The excavation was carried out along the southwestern slope of a spur that descends toward the west, in an area that was surveyed in 1996 (Amit and Zilberbod 1998
). Remains of a building that date from Iron Age II to the beginning of the Persian period, rock-cuttings, and field walls probably built in the Hellenistic period were exposed.
The massive foundations of what was apparently a square structure (10 × 10 m) were exposed beneath a layer of soil mixed with medium and large fieldstones (L2612, L2614). Two adjacent rooms (L2616, L2665; Fig. 2) in the southern part of the building were essentially all that remained of the structure. Room 2616 was rectangular (2.0 × 5.5 m) and all four of its walls survived, whereas only part of Room 2665 (2 × 2 m) was exposed. The walls of the structure were built of a single row of medium and large stones (c. 0.5 × 0.5 × 0.6 m) set on bedrock. They were oriented to the cardinal directions and were preserved to a height of one or two courses. A threshold stone exposed in the northeastern corner of Room 2616 was part of that room’s doorway (L2624; width 1.5 m). Floors (L2620, L2625) built of small and medium fieldstones founded on a layer of soil (max. thickness 0.15 m) that was deposited on the leveled bedrock were exposed in both rooms and abutted the walls. The floor in the eastern room (L2616) was preserved in its entirety; whereas only the southern part of the floor (L2625) survived in the western room. Pottery collected from above and below the floors in both of the rooms included fragments of kraters (Fig. 3:1–6) and cooking pots from the Iron II (Fig. 3:7–10) and fragments of bowls that date from the end of the Iron Age and the beginning of the Persian period (Fig. 3:11, 12).
Some 4.5 m north of the two rooms was a section of a wall (W265; preserved length 4 m) that ran parallel to the southern wall of the building (W263). Wall 265 was built of a single row of small and medium fieldstones that were set on hewn bedrock and was preserved to a height of one course. A layer of soil and small stones (L2618) was discovered above the wall. A layer of small stones (L2613), amongst which several potsherds from the end of the Iron Age and the beginning of the Persian period, abutted the southern side of W265. Only rock-hewn lines (L2612, L2619) and small cupmarks (L2621, L2622; diam. c. 0.2 m, depth c. 0.15 m) were exposed in the area between the two rooms and W265. A channel, part of which was hewn and part natural (length c. 0.25 m, width c. 0.15 m, depth c. 0.15 m), led to a rock-cut depression (L2623; diam. c. 0.1 m, depth 0.25 m) that was discovered west of W265. The meager remains that survived north of the building might have been part of that structure.
A rectangular rock-cutting (L2641; 0.6 × 2.0 m, depth c. 0.4 m) was revealed northwest of the building. A circular opening of a rock-hewn cistern (L2611; diam. c. 0.5 m) was discovered at the bottom of the slope, 4.5 m southwest of the building. The cistern was situated outside the limits of the excavation.
Two field walls (W269, W270) abutted the two corners of the building from the west and east. They were built on the bedrock utilizing stones that had been dismantled from the walls of the building. Wall 269 (exposed length 8 m, width 1 m) was constructed of two rows of medium stones with small stones in between and was preserved to a height of three courses. Wall 270 was built of a single row of medium-sized stones and survived to a height of three courses. A layer of small stones (L2615) partially covered the corner of the building and abutted the northern face of W270. Fragments of jugs and juglets (Fig. 3:13–17) from the Hellenistic period were discovered in the soil between these stones and in between the stones of the walls.
The excavation yielded remains of a building that is dated from the Iron Age II to the beginning of the Persian period based on the ceramic finds. Only part of the structure was preserved and therefore its plan is unclear. The two field walls that adjoined the corners of the building were erected after the structure was abandoned, probably during the Hellenistic period. These may be the retaining walls of agricultural terraces, as many such terraces are located in the area.