In May 2015, a salvage excavation was conducted to the northeast of Arad (Permit No. A-7392; map ref. 221780–8/575370–40; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a new neighborhood. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by C.P.M. Management Building Ltd., was directed by N. Golding-Meir with the assistance of M. Kunin and M. Kahan (surveying), Y. Alamor (administration) and laborers from the town of Kuseifa.
Five excavation squares were opened (A–E; Fig. 1), yielding a round structure, a field wall and heaps of stones; several of the stone heaps may have been graves, although no finds were discovered in them. The arid desert area where the building and the heaps were located has been frequented by indigenous nomads from ancient times to the present day, and they have left little trace of their presence. Evidence of current-day nomads was found near the excavation areas. The area was surveyed in the past (License No. S-561/2015), when numerous small sites were found near the current excavation areas, some of which date from the prehistoric, Byzantine and Islamic periods, while others are difficult to date. Another survey found numerous rock inscriptions, most of which are people’s names, but others are tribal territorial symbols (D. Eisenberg-Degen, pers. comm.).
Area A. A small round structure was unearthed (inner diam. 3 m, outer diam. 5 m; Figs. 2, 3) at the highest point of a spur overlooking two wadis, running to the east and west of the site. The structure consisted of three outer walls, to the south (W101), west (W102) and north (W103); its east side remained open. The walls were built of small and medium-sized local black stones (mostly c. 0.2–0.4 m, 1 m thick) preserved only one course high (max. height c. 0.2 m). The west wall was well-preserved, whereas the north wall was poorly preserved. The walls of the structure were founded on a thin layer of soil, probably natural soil; its floor was not discovered. The bedrock was uncovered in a few places in and around the structure (depth 0.1–0.2 m; W104–W106, W108).
A few modern finds were retrieved from between the wall stones, possibly attesting to stone robbery in modern times. The few lithic finds recovered from the structure are impossible to identify and may come from an ancient site that is has no association with the structure.
Area B, approximately 500 m east of Area A, yielded five stone piles whose purpose remains unclear (Fig. 4). Some of the stone piles were placed directly on the rock, and others were set on a thin layer of soil (up to 0.2 m thick) covering the rock. Two piles (L200, L202) are at some distance from the others, whereas the other three piles (L203, L205, L206) are close together. The piles were devoid of finds; they may have been graves, and several may have served as waymarkers or markers of a tribal boundary.
Area C, approximately 1500 m to the west of Area A, yielded a stone pile (L300; Fig. 5), possibly a grave, although it yielded no remains whatsoever.
Area D, about 1000 m southeast of Area A, yielded a stone heap whose function remains unclear (Fig. 6). The stones were placed on the bedrock, in an arrangement which does not indicate whether they were part of a building or a tomb. This may have been a tumulus, and it may have been covered with stones in the past.
Area E, at the eastern end of a wide saddle, about 800 m away from Area A, yielded numerous modern finds indicating a nomadic settlement that existed at the place until recently. A field wall (W501; length c. 2 m; Figs. 7, 8), preserved to the height of a single course of stones, was founded on a thin layer of soil covering the bedrock (L500, L505); additional stones (L504) were found beside the north side of the wall. A Mousterian site identified on the saddle was excavated by D. Yegorov (Permit No. A-7428).