In October 2020, a trial excavation was conducted near Khirbat Umm el-Baqar (Nahal Adorayim; Permit No. A-8850; map ref. 179995/604152; Fig. 1), north of the Ma‘ahaz Interchange on Highway 6, prior to the erection of an electricity pylon. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Israel Electric Company, was directed by E. Bischoff Bruintjes, with the assistance of Y. Alamor (administration), E. Aladjem (surveying and aerial photography), A. Golani (scientific guidance) and S. Talis (pottery analysis), as well as V. Lifshits and S. Ganor (IAA Ashqelon District).
The excavation was carried out on the southern slope of a hill, which is located on the edge of a local spur in the western periphery of the Shephelah, north of Nahal Adorayim (Fig. 1). The site (20–25 dunams) was surveyed in the 1970s by Y. Dagan, who identified the foundations of a square building on the hill, remains of buildings on the slopes and a bell-shaped cistern to the west, and retrieved pottery dating from the Late Bronze Age to the Ottoman Periods (Dagan 1992: Site 249). The site was surveyed again in 2004 by J. Blakely and J. Hardin of the University of Mississippi (unpublished). In 2004, an excavation was carried out on the eastern side of the site, revealing an Early Bronze Age pit with meager finds, and building remains and pottery dating from the Iron Age I (the late eleventh to early tenth centuries BCE; Fig. 1: A-4291; Nahshoni and Talis 2008; Nahshoni and Talis 2015).
Four excavation squares were opened in the area of the planned pylon, revealing a thin layer of topsoil (0.1–0.2 m; Fig. 2) overlying the bedrock. The archaeological remains on the bedrock consisted mainly of sporadic pottery sherds, flints and stone tools that probably rolled down the slope from the adjacent site.
The pottery sherds date from several periods. The holemouth jars (Fig. 3:1–4) reflect the Early Bronze Age occupation, identified in the previous excavation (Nahshoni and Talis 2015). A few sherds date from the Middle–Late Bronze Ages (Fig. 3:5, 6), the Late Bronze Age (Fig. 3:7–9), Iron Age I–II (Fig. 3:10, 11), Iron Age II (Fig. 3:12, 13) and the Persian period (Fig. 3:14); all these periods were identified in the previous survey and excavation.
The limited finds indicate that the excavated area was located at the outer margins of the site of Umm el-Baqar, which was occupied in the Early, Middle and Late Bronze Ages, Iron Age I–II and the Persian period.
Nahshoni P. and Talis S. 2008. Khirbat Umm el-Baqar (Nahal Adorayim). HA-ESI 120.
Nahshoni P. and Talis S. 2015. An Iron Age Site at Khirbat Umm el-Baqr (Nahal Adorayim). ‘Atiqot 81:69–105 (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 122*–123*).