In September 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted at Horbat Gannim south of Moshav Yish‘i (Permit No. A-6268; map ref. 196609–90/628250–89; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of a water pipe. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Mekorot Company, was directed by E. Kogan-Zehavi, with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (photography), C. Hersch (pottery drawing), L. Belashov (plans) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Early Phase. A quarry (L510; 0.5 × 1.2 m) was discovered 1.4 m below the surface in the center of the excavation area. No artifacts were found above the quarry. Sections of a gray plaster floor (L507) that was placed directly on the bedrock were found north of the quarry. A soil fill (L503) above the floor was mixed with several pottery sherds, including three jar rims dating from the first century BCE – first century CE (Fig. 5:6–8), as well as a piece of slate (Fig. 5:12).
Middle Phase. A north–south wall (W508; preserved length 1.2 m, width 0.6 m) was discovered: one course (height 0.5 m) of large stones that were roughly hewn on their outer face, along with small fieldstones. The wall extended southward, beyond the excavation area. Its eastern face was built against a high and leveled bedrock outcrop; its northern end was destroyed by the construction of a later wall (W501, below). A basin (L511; length 0.2 m, depth 0.12 m) of unknown date was hewn in the leveled bedrock east of the wall. Below the wall and to its west was a layer of brown soil deposited on the bedrock (L509). A Byzantine-period pot rim (Fig. 5:5) that was found in this soil dates the wall’s construction. A layer of gray soil and small stones (L506) abutted the wall, possibly the foundation of a floor that did not survive. Fragments of pottery vessels were found in Soil Layer 506, which included a rim of a jar from the first century BCE (Fig. 5:9) and a rim of a pot from the Byzantine period (Fig. 5:4).
Late Phase. Remains of a wall (W501) oriented in a general east–west direction were discovered 0.3 m below the surface. It was built of a single row of roughly hewn stones and fieldstones of various sizes. The stones were apparently taken from the remains of a nearby settlement. The wall extended east beyond the limits of the excavation, and its continuation was discovered in a previous excavation (Permit No. A-6127, Sq 5), where it was described as an agricultural fence that was built on the foundation of a Byzantine-period wall. The western face of the wall was destroyed as a result of modern work. A layer of brown soil (L502, L504) abutted the wall from the north and south. It contained a scant amount of ceramic artifacts, including body fragments of jars, an ARS bowl rim (Fig. 5:1) from the late fifth – early sixth century CE and two jar rims from the Byzantine period (Fig. 5:10, 11), as well as two coins, one of Tiberius (30/1 CE; B5009; IAA 143921) and the other of Theodosius (402–408 CE; B5008; IAA 143920). Although no floor abutted W501, it seems that the finds from the brown layer of soil and the Byzantine-period buildings unearthed at the adjacent excavation (Permit No. A-6127) date the wall to the Byzantine period. An assortment of finds was discovered in the topsoil (L500) covering W501, including a Late Roman D bowl rim (Fig. 5:2) dating from the fifth–seventh centuries CE, an Abbasid-period bowl rim made of pink clay bearing green glazed on the outside (Fig. 5:3), a Herodian coin of (23–13 BCE; B5011; IAA 143919) and a limestone mortar (Fig. 5:13).
Only meager architectural finds from the Early Roman and Byzantine periods were exposed in the excavation. The Byzantine-period remains are related to the settlement remains that were previously uncovered nearby and indicate that the settlement extended over the southern part of the hill. The paucity of remains seems to indicate that this area lay on the outskirts of the settlement and that these remains mark the southern boundary of Horbat Gannim.
Sion O. and Rapuano Y. 2010. Hurvat Gannim – A Jewish Site in the Northern Shephela. In M. Billig ed. Judea and Samaria Research Studies 19. Ariel. Pp. 83–94 (Hebrew).