During May 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted at the Shoham site (East; Permit No. A-6494; map ref. 19540–50/65697–707), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Ajami, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), A. Re’em (surveying and field photography), S. Yihielov (preliminary inspections), N. Zak (drafting) and M. Shuiskaya (drawing of finds).
The site is located on a low rocky hill in the northeastern part of the Shoham settlement and extends across c. 20 dunams. Prior to the construction of the eastern neighborhood in Shoham, several excavations were conducted at the site (ESI 18:69–73; Permit Nos. A-4769, A-5358, A-5890), and four main settlement strata were exposed, dating to the Hellenistic (fourth–third centuries BCE), Early Roman (first century BCE–first century CE), Byzantine (third–sixth centuries CE) and Early Islamic (sixth–tenth centuries CE) periods. The multitude of remains included dwellings, agricultural installations and tombs. Especially noteworthy is an impressive olive press and ritual baths (miqwa’ot) that were dated to the Early Roman period. In addition, fragments of pottery vessels from the Chalcolithic period, Early Bronze Age, Iron Age and Persian period were recovered from the site.
A cistern and a rock-hewn corner, probably of an installation, were cleaned and documented along the northern fringes of the site.
Cistern. The cistern (length c. 7 m, width c. 5.5 m, depth 2.85 m; Figs. 1, 2) was elliptical. The northern half of the cistern was destroyed by mechanical equipment during development work. The carvers of the cistern took advantage of karstic cavities which were enlarged by means of quarrying. The poor quality of the bedrock did not facilitate even and easy quarrying; consequently, depressions and bumps remained on the sides of the cistern. Therefore, the sides of the cistern, its floor and ceiling were coated with three layers of plaster (Fig. 3). The bottom and middle plaster layers (total thickness c. 3 cm) were lime-based and light gray in color, containing fine gravel and ground potsherds. The upper, outer layer was a thin application (thickness c. 1 cm) of smooth light gray hydraulic plaster, which is typical of the Second Temple period and known from other installations in the vicinity.
The fill of debris inside the cistern consisted of soil, medium and large fieldstones and modern refuse. The bottom of the cistern was sealed by a layer of pale gray fill, comprising fine-grained sediment that resulted from the deposits formed there. The fill in the cistern yielded fragments of several pottery vessels, mostly jars and jugs from the Ottoman period (Fig. 4:1, 2), Early Islamic period (Fig. 4:3), Early Roman period (Fig. 4:4, 5) and Persian or Hellenistic periods (Fig. 4:6, 8). It is difficult to determine the date of the cistern based on the potsherds in the fill. However, based on the quality of the plaster applied to its sides and the settlement strata that were found at the site, it is proposed to date it to the time of the Second Temple in the Early Roman period.
Rock-cut Installation. the southwestern corner of a rock-cut installation that was apparently square (depth in excess of 2 m; Fig. 5) was excavated c. 30 m east of the cistern. The southern and western sides of the installation were cleaned and excavated. Further exposure of the installation was not possible due to its being buried beneath an active road located beyond the limits of the excavation area.
A single jar fragment dating to the Hellenistic period (Fig. 4:7) was retrieved from the fill inside the installation.
The two excavated installations join dozens of installations and the rich settlement strata that were exposed on the hilltop, located today in the main park of the neighborhood.