During November 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted in Wadi ‘Illin (Permit No. A-6340; map ref. 199549/627869; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Bet Shemesh municipality, was directed by S. Mizrahi, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), N. German (preliminary inspections), M. Kunin (surveying), D. Storchan and D. Levy (GPS), E. Belashov (drafting) and C. Hersch (artifact drawings).
Extensive human activity was documented in the region; it had its beginning in the Neolithic period and Early Bronze Age IB at Lower Horbat ‘Illin (ESI 12:79–80). Settlements that dated from the Byzantine until the Abbasid periods were exposed at Horbat ‘Illin (South) and Uppper Horbat ‘Illin (ESI 12:76–78, ESI 18:95–96). Numerous burial caves from the Hellenistic–Byzantine periods were discovered next to these settlements (ESI 12:80–82).
Some 100 m south of Horbat ‘Illin (Lower), two half squares (C9, D9; Fig. 2) were opened. Architectural remains from Early Bronze Age IB were discovered and fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods, not in situ, were found.
An uneven layer of stones, with no evidence of construction, was exposed in Sq C9; it seems that the stones were swept into the wadi. The recovered finds were eroded and mostly dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods, with some dating to Early Bronze Age IB, including a bowl with a diagonal linear decoration on the upper part of its side (Fig. 3:1), and a ledge handle (Fig. 3:2).
Three fieldstone-built walls (W501–W503; Fig. 4) were discovered in Sq D9; these were probably part of a building that was not completely exposed. Wall 502 (length 1.2 m, width 0.6 m) was preserved four courses high; the upper course was built of a large fieldstone (0.×0.9 m; Fig. 5) that served as a cornerstone and connected W502 to W503 (length 0.96 m, width 0.6 m). Wall 501 (length 1.0 m, width 0.6 m), preserved five courses high, postdated these two walls and adjoined them. Between Walls 501 and 502 was a row of fieldstones that probably served as a floor (L104) that was overlain with fragments of pottery vessels dating to Early Bronze Age IB. The accumulation (L103) south of the walls was disturbed by modern debris. The building, the stone collapse (L102) and the surface level (L101) contained potsherds that mainly dated to the late phase of the Early Bronze Age IB and included a holemouth krater (Fig. 3:3), holemouth jars (Fig. 3:4–6) and jars (Fig. 3:7, 8). The holemouth jar (Fig. 3:6) from L104 is the only artifact discovered in situ.
The remains from Early Bronze Age IB exposed in the excavation show that the site of this period excavated at Horbat ‘Illin (Lower; ESI 12) extends across a greater area than was previously suggested, and continues c. 100 m to the south.