During May 2012, a trial excavation was conducted at Khirbat es-Salluja, near Hafez Hayyim Junction (Permit No. A-6517; map ref. 178688–725/633496–575), prior to digging a water reservoir. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Mekorot Companyand Agat Engineering Company, Ltd., was directed by D. Golan, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), A. Dagot and H. Ben-Ari (GPS), M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), Y. Marmelstein, H. Schiff and A. Glick (preliminary antiquities inspections), P. Gendelman (pottery reading) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
The excavation was conducted in an agricultural area, c. 800 m northwest of
Khirbat es-Salluja, along the ruin’s eastern outskirts, on a gentle slope that descends to the south (Fig. 1). Cavities in the kurkar
bedrock and architectural remains from the Roman period were exposed 80 m north of the excavation (Fig. 1: A-5923; HA-ESI 123
) and walls dating to Iron Age II were discovered 300 m northwest of the excavation (Fig. 1: A-6198; HA-ESI 124
Five squares (75 sq m) were opened and wall remains were exposed (Fig. 2).
Square 1. A wall (W103; length 4.4 m, width 0.5 m, height 0.6 m; Fig. 3), built of three courses of medium-sized fieldstones with several roughly hewn stones, was exposed at a depth of c. 0.7 m below the surface, in hard brown clayey soil. Several potsherds from the Byzantine period, including jar rims (Fig. 4:1, 2) were found in the vicinity of the walls.
Square 2. Remains of walls built on the bedrock and reinforced with a layer of tamped soil and small stones were exposed at a depth of c. 2.2 m below the surface, in hard brown clayey soil. A wall (W111; length 2.9 m, width 1.6 m, height 0.9 m; Fig. 5) built of small fieldstones was preserved five courses high. Its western end was reinforced with larger roughly hewn stones and it adjoined the southwestern end of another wall (W113; length 1.4 m, width 1.35 m, height 1 m). Soil composed of kurkar sand was excavated beneath the wall foundations. Several potsherds that could not be dated were found.
Square 3. A section of a stone level (L110; 2.5×2.5 m) was exposed at a depth of c. 0.7 m below the surface. It was composed of small fieldstones and sloped to the south. Several undated potsherds were found.
Square 4. A scatter of small stones and several potsherds that could not be dated was exposed.
Square 5. A layer of kurkar bedrock, whose upper part is brown, soft and friable, was exposed. Several potsherds that could not be dated were found on the kurkar.
Recent excavations in the vicinity have shown that the northern and northwestern outskirts of Khirbat es-Salluja were used for agriculture or some other purpose. The depth of the remains is indicative of a massive alluvium accumulation in the region.