During July 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted in Yattir Forest (Permit No. A-4537; map ref. NIG 20860/58480; OIG 15860/08480), prior to the construction of the separation fence. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by M. Haiman, with the assistance of A. Freiberg (area supervision) and A. Hajian (surveying).
A walled, trapezoidal cultivation plot (50 × 80 × 85 × 90 m) that extends across a flat hilltop on which other fenced-off plots are spread was examined. The remains of a square watchman’s hut, a hewn installation and two stone heaps were excavated within the plot.
Enclosure Walls. Four walls (W2, W3, W4, W8; Figs. 1–4), built of one row of stones (width 0.3–0.4 m, height up to 0.8 m) delimited the plot. Probes excavated along the walls ascertained that the stones were set on top of natural bedrock (c. 0.2 m below surface).
Watchman’s Hut (L1; 2.9 × 3.2 m; Fig. 5). The foundation wall of the building had survived (width c. 0.8 m). It consisted of short stones (up to 0.2 m long) and was preserved two courses high (c. 0.6 m). No remains of a floor were discerned and potsherds dating to the Byzantine period were collected around the structure.
Installation. It has an irregular rectangular outline (L6; c. 0.7 × 2.0 m, depth 0.6 m; Fig. 6) and is hewn in the center of a bedrock surface (c. 8 × 11 m).
Stone Heaps. Two low heaps (Loci 5, 7; Figs. 7, 8) that consisted of small stones and earth (Heap 5—diam. 3 m, height c. 0.4 m; Heap 7—diam. 4.1 m, height 0.3 m). Although not numerous, similar stone heaps are known in the fenced-off farmland of the Yattir region.
These remains are characteristic of the agricultural landscape of the Yattir region and the southern Hebron Highlands, particularly in the open areas between the settlements. The potsherds noted on surface date only to the Byzantine period, hence the remains should be dated to the same period.