During September–October 2000 a trial excavation, cleaning and documentation, were conducted in three sites, Mishmar Ayyalon (West), el-Qubab and ‘En Yarud (South), prior to further construction in Moshav Ben-Nun (Permit No. A-3305*). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Glick, with the assistance of V. Shlomi (area supervision), A. Hajian (surveying), H. Tzion-Cinamon (GPS), Y. Rahamim (administration) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics), as well as R. Kletter, M. Peilstöcker and O. Shmueli.
Excavation squares were opened at Mishmar Ayyalon (west; Area A) and el-Qubab (Area B); the antiquities at ‘En Yarud (south; Area C) were cleaned and documented (Fig. 1).
Area A (Mishmar Ayyalon, west; map ref. NIG 19474–92/641447–546; OIG 14474–92/141447–546). Five squares (A–E) along an east–west axis were opened (Fig. 2) and remains of an ancient road (width 3.9–5.6 m), oriented east–west, were discovered. Two courses of walls, built of roughly hewn and various-sized stones (up to 0.4 m thick), delimited the road on both sides. The two courses, which reflected two phases, were discovered in Squares B, D and E. The middle part of the road was paved with a small stone layer (thickness c. 0.2 m). Evidence of two pavement phases, which probably belonged to the road, was discerned. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods and possibly also to the Early Islamic period were discovered alongside the road (Fig. 3:4, 5), as well as a fragment of a stone measuring vessel (Fig. 3:6) that dated to the Roman period. A coin dating to the middle of the fourth century CE (IAA 97480) was discovered on the surface outside the square. No architectural remains were found in a trial square that was opened north of the excavation area. Based on the width of the road and the manner of its construction it seems to have been a main road. Using historical sources, I. Roll identified one main road that passed through the region, via el-Qubab, which linked Lod to Emmaus (Ze’ev Vilnay Book II:123). However, none of its remains were discovered to date, and it was generally believed not to have survived. It is feasible that the road uncovered in the excavation is the Lod–Emmaus route, as its location, direction and the date of the pottery seem to suggest.
Area B (el-Qubab; map ref. NIG 195428–53/641089–155; OIG 145428–53/141089–155). Two squares were excavated. Remains of a wall, oriented east–west, were discovered in one square. It was built of dressed stones (max. thickness 0.5 m) and preserved two courses high. Numerous stones were exposed in the second square, probably the collapse of a wall that was destroyed in the past. A few fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period (Fig. 3:1–3) were found in both squares.
Area C (‘En Yarud, south; map ref. NIG 195090–213/640864–923; OIG 145090–213/140864–923). Archaeological remains visible on surface were cleaned and documented. Two bell-shaped water cisterns were found to be almost completely filled with soil and modern refuse. Rock-cuttings and meager remains of walls were also noted. Throughout the area it was possible to identify remains of rock-cuttings on large stone masses. Intersecting channels (width and depth c. 0.15 m) were discerned on a bedrock surface that was probably a quarry, wherein the work had not been finished. Potsherds dating to the Roman–Byzantine periods were found.