In December 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted on the northwestern fringes of Tel Shilat (Permit No. A-6961; map ref 201896–949/647216–69; Fig. 1), after ancient remains were damaged during infrastructure work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Moshav Shilat, was directed by A.S. Tendler, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. Dagot (GPS), M. Kahan and R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), H. Torgë (ceramics) and M. Shuiskaya (drawing of finds).
Tel Shilat is located near Ma‘ale Bet Horon (the Bet Horon Ascent), the ancient road that led from the coastal plain to Jerusalem. A limekiln and field wall, c. 50 m apart of each other, were damaged by the infrastructure work. They were exposed in the excavation, and two rock-cut tombs, c. 10 m east of the kiln, were cleaned.
The following antiquities were documented in surveys previously conducted on the tell: cisterns, rock-hewn winepresses, field towers, quarries, a limekiln, an agricultural road, burial caves, a ritual bath (miqveh), as well as finds ranging in date from the Persian period to the Early Islamic period; most of the finds are ascribed to the Hellenistic and Roman periods (Finkelstein and Magen 1993:13*; Shmueli and Barda 2008
). In salvage excavations conducted on the tell the following were uncovered: an ancient road that led from Shilat to H
orbat Bad-‘Isa, agricultural remains from the Hasmonean and Early Roman periods (Zelinger 2006
), remains of a prehistoric site, a limekiln (Sklar-Parnes and Artzi 2007
) and remains of a pottery workshop ascribed to the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods (Shlomi 2010
All that was preserved of the kiln was part of a circular rock-hewn pit (L104; Figs. 2, 3) that was used as a firebox. Ash, charcoal and lumps of lime had accumulated at the bottom of the pit. The field wall (W1; Figs. 4, 5) was built of large fieldstones laid directly on the bedrock and was aligned in an east–west direction. Jar fragments dating to the Persian and Hellenistic periods (Fig. 6:1, 2) and flint flakes were discovered on the surface near the wall. The two tombs were hewn in a bedrock outcrop, in a north–south direction (L103; Figs. 7, 8). The eastern tomb was rectangular (depth c. 0.6 m); its quarrying may not have been incomplete. The western tomb was also rectangular but deeper (c. 0.7 m), and it was cleaned down to the top of an arcosolium that was exposed in its western wall. The remains that were discovered in the excavation were found along the edge of an ancient settlement that was situated at the top of the tell; the settlement’s outskirts were used for farming, industry and burial.