During February 2005, an excavation was conducted next to Giv‘ati Junction (Permit No. A-4374; map ref. NIG 168100/617985; OIG 118100/117985), following the discovery of antiquities during the course of infrastructure work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Bezeq, was directed by M. Haiman (field photography), with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying) and A. Dodin (pottery drawing).
A bulldozer working in an agricultural area damaged an ancient building that was situated c. 0.6 m below surface. An area (4 × 5 m) was opened and all the building remains, which dated to the Byzantine period, were exposed. The soil around it was devoid of finds and therefore, it seems that this was a single one-room structure, probably a watchman’s hut, which related to fields along the edges of settlements and was common to this period.
The western half of the building (reconstructed dimensions c. 3 × 4 m; Figs. 1, 2) survived and its walls in the north (W202; width 0.6 m), west (W201; width 0.6 m) and south (W200; width 1.2 m) were preserved. The foundation of the walls consisted of different size kurkar stones bonded in cement (height c. 0.3–0.4 m) and the walls were built of dressed kurkar stones, one of which survived in situ (0.2 × 0.4 × 0.6 m). A tamped earth floor abutted the bottom of the walls’ foundation and was overlain with numerous potsherds (L101; Figs. 3, 4). A beaten-earth floor, overlain with a large number of jar fragments (L102; Fig. 5), was outside the building, next to W201.
The debris caused by the bulldozer damage contained dressed kurkar stones that probably derived from the higher parts of the walls (Fig. 6), a limestone roof-roller (diam. c. 0.2 m, length c. 0.8 m; Fig. 7), a basalt mortar and fragments of marble slabs (Fig. 8).
Although the ceramic finds were copious, their types are limited. These included several fragments of Late Roman C bowls (Fig. 9:1), many deep kraters of various types (Fig. 9:2–4), a small (Fig. 9:5) and a large cooking pot (Fig. 9:6) that dated to the sixth century CE and lids (Fig. 9:7, 8). Most of the ceramic artifacts were store jars, including Gaza jars (Fig. 9:9, 10), an Ashqelon jar (Fig. 9:11) and a type of bag-shaped jars that is common to the northern Negev (Fig. 9:12, 13), as well as jugs (Fig. 9:14, 15) and a juglet (Fig. 9:16). The pottery assemblage is typical of Byzantine sites in the northern Negev and it is customarily dated from the fifth to the beginning of the seventh centuries CE.