During May–June 2003 a salvage excavation was conducted south of Moshav Shilat (Permit No. A-3915*; map ref. NIG 202352–652/647000–341; OIG 152352–652/147000–341), in the wake of development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by D. Sklar-Parnes, with the assistance of B.A. Emmet-Artzi (area supervision), Y. Dangor (administration), T. Sagiv (field photography), V. Pirsky and V. Essman (surveying), E. Belashov (drafting) and laborers from East Jerusalem.
Prior to the excavation, several probe trenches dug by mechanical equipment during an antiquities inspection revealed flint implements dating to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period.
The excavation concentrated on two features: the remains of a prehistoric site and three nearby cupmarks, as well as an adjacent limekiln.
The Prehistoric Site
Two squares (2 × 2 m) were excavated, revealing numerous scattered flint implements that seem to have originated from the adjacent site, c. 15 m west of the excavation, which was destroyed by the development work in the area.
Three cupmarks, hewn in a bedrock surface, were exposed 3 m north of the excavation. The largest cupmark was conical (diam. 0.31 m, depth 0.3 m: Fig. 1:A); a shallow cupmark (min. diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.1 m; Fig. 1:B) was cut close by and near it was a third smaller cupmark (diam. 0.16 m, depth 0.08 m; Fig. 1:C). The two larger cupmarks probably functioned as pressing installations.
A circular limekiln (diam. 6.1 m) was exposed 250 m north of the site. The lower part of its wall was bedrock hewn and the upper part was built of fieldstones, preserved seven courses high (1.4 m). Burned stones and soil mixed with ash formed a ring of debris (width 1.6 m) around the kiln. Layers of stones and fill in the kiln consisted of lime, soot, ash and modern finds. The kiln yielded no diagnostic finds that could date its construction.