During July 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted at Sha‘ar Ha-Gāy (Permit No. A-6543; map ref. 202221–383/636019–240), prior to widening Highway 1. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the National Roads Company of Israel, Ltd., was directed by A. Nagar (field photography), with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), E. Belashov (final plans), I. Lidski-Reznikov (pottery drawing), A. De Groot (pottery reading), and A. Eirikh-Rose (flint identification).
The excavation was conducted at the opening of Sha‘ar Ha-Gāy, c. 230 m northwest of the Paz gas station and c. 40 northwest of Khirbat Harsis (Fig. 1).
No architectural remains were exposed in any of the five opened squares (125 sq m; Figs. 2, 3). Potsherds dating to Iron Age II, III (Fig. 4) and the Persian and Late Hellenistic periods (Fig. 5) were found. In addition, two body fragments of vessels that date to the Mamluk and Late Ottoman period were discovered. Other artifacts included tesserae, glass fragments, a stone mortar (diam. 5.5 cm, depth 3–5 cm) and eight flint items, consisting of flakes, a core, core debitage, a scraper and two notches, whose date is unknown. The pottery of the Iron Age II, III included bowls (Fig. 4:1–4), stands (Fig. 4:5, 6), a jar and holemouths (Fig. 4:7–9), a jug (Fig. 4:10) and a rattle (Fig. 4:11). The ceramic finds from the Persian period included bowls (Fig. 5:1, 2), a mortarium (Fig. 5:3), jars (Fig. 5:4, 5) and a body fragment (Fig. 5:6). The finds from the Late Hellenistic period include jars (Fig. 5:7, 8).
It seems that the finds were swept down to the area of the excavation from Khirbat Harsis. The ceramic artifacts allow us to determine with certitude that the site was already inhabited in Iron Age II, III and in the Persian and Hellenistic periods. The final phase of the site was in the Ottoman period (the second half of the nineteenth century CE), when the thirteenth of seventeen strongholds, which guarded the road between Yafo and Jerusalem, was built. The site is today located within the precincts of the Judean Mountains National Park.