During April 2011, an archaeological survey was conducted in the settlement of ‘Ar‘ara in the Negev (License No. S-268/2011; map ref. 20285–400/56210–350), prior to construction. The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and was underwritten by the Bedouin Advancement Administration in the Negev, was directed by F. Sonntag, with the assistance of N.S. Paran (survey) and S. Gal (GPS).
The upper channels of Nahal Tale and the slopes of the hills flanking it are located within the area of the survey (Fig. 1). Part of the area was cultivated in the modern era.
Five sites were identified:
1. A building and courtyard (central map ref. 203120/562840; c. 20×30 m; Fig. 2). The building was constructed from flint (4×6 m, up to 0.4 m high) and it has two rooms. The courtyard is enclosed within a wall built of flint and extends east and south of the building. Potsherds dating to the Byzantine period were identified on the surface.
2. An animal pen (map ref. 203200/562820; c. 15×20 m; Fig. 3) built of flint. A building was probably located in its northern corner. No datable finds were discovered.
3. A square watchman’s hut (central map ref. 203195/562650; 4×4 m, height 0.4 m; Fig. 4) built on a small escarpment above the stream.
4. A field wall (central map ref. 203255/562590; length c. 60 m, height 0.5 m) was discovered above the wadi gorge.
5. A field wall (central map ref. 203395/562675; length c. 40 m, height 1 m; Fig. 5).
The documented sites are part of the agricultural system of the Be’er Sheva‘–‘Arad Valley in the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods and the residents of the region continued to use some of them until the Late Ottoman period.