In May 2019, a trial excavation was carried out in the Har Tuv Industrial Zone in Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-8529; map ref. 199014–125/630294–384; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Tzachi Sasson Holdings Ltd., was directed by S. Gendler (field photography), with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), S. Halevi (photogrammetry), J. Tiano and N. Ben-Ari (preliminary inspections), as well as A. Shadman, A. Eirikh-Rose and Y. Zelinger.
A north–south segment of ancient agricultural road (Figs. 2, 3) was uncovered in the Zor‘a Valley in the Judean Shephelah. Another segment of an ancient road was uncovered c. 1 km northeast of the current excavation, but while its axis was the same as that of the one uncovered in the current excavation, its construction was different (Gendler 2020 [Fig. 1; A-8396]). A previous excavation c. 0.7 km to the south uncovered remains in from the Early Bronze Age IB (Mazar and de Miroschedji 1996), which according to the excavators were part of a temple. Approximately 2.5 km southwest of the excavation lies Tel Bet Shemesh, where settlement remains ranging in date from the Middle Bronze Age through the Ottoman era were found (for background and sources, see Haddad and Ben-Ari 2019).
The uncovered road segment (width 2.5–3.0 m) was built of a compact layer of soil mixed with medium and small stones. The road was flanked by two walls (W101, W103) built of large, unworked limestones set on an accumulation of colluvium (Fig. 4). Due to modern-day activity, the walls were poorly preserved, standing only one course high. It could be discerned that the road continue to the south and north, beyond the boundaries of the excavation. No in situ datable finds were discovered. All the unearthed sherds were worn, and thus none could be identified. The road apparently connected the Zor‘a Valley with Tel Zor‘a to the north. Its construction was careless, suggesting that it was an agricultural road that ran between field plots.
Gendler S. 2020. Eshta’ol (Southwest). HA-ESI 132.
Haddad E. and Ben-Ari N. 2019. Bet Shemesh, Tel Bet Shemesh. HA-ESI 131.
Mazar A. and de Miroschedji P. 1996. Hartuv, an Aspect of the Early Bronze Age I Culture of Southern Israel. BASOR 302:1–40.