During June 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Yattir Forest (Permit No. A-4502; map ref. 20519–25/58510–20), 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 E. Aladjam, with the assistance of H. Lavi (administration) and A. Hajian (surveying).
The excavation area was located c. 0.5 km north of Khirbat el-Fakhta (map ref. 205220/585150). A farming terrace (1), square field tower (2) and wall remains (3) were excavated.
1. A field tower (3×4 m) built of stone walls (W13–W16; width 0.8 m; Figs. 1, 2) was located on a high ridge. The entrance to the structure consisted of two stones that were affixed to the outer side of the northern wall (W13); a niche was hewn in the western stone; it evidently served as a socket. A platform (2×4 m), which may have been a floor, was built of one course of small and medium stones, attached to the tower’s eastern wall.
2. A farming terrace (W12; length 30 m, width 1.5 m, height 1.4 m; Figs. 3, 4) was excavated c. 100 m north of the tower. It was built of large fieldstones and preserved five courses high. The terrace extended across the width of a channel and was found partially covered with alluvium.
3. A wall (W10; length 10 m, width 0.5 m, max. height 0.4 m; Figs. 5, 6), built of small stones placed on the bedrock, was excavated c. 100 m north of the farming terrace and c. 400 m from the field tower. The fine quality of the wall’s construction indicates it was not a farming terrace.
The three remains could not be dated because no potsherds were discovered. However, based on the nature of construction, it seems that the remains are part of the agricultural array of the Yattir region in the Byzantine period.