During February 2004 a salvage excavation was conducted on the premises of the Ashqelon College (Permit No. A-4092*; map ref. NIG 15938/61982; OIG 10938/11982), following an antiquities inspection in the wake of preparing the area for construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ashqelon College, was directed by N.S. Paran , with the assistance of H. Lavi (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), R. Vinitsky (metallurgical laboratory) and G. Bijovsky (numismatics).
Five cist tombs (G1–5) and a square burial structure were discovered c. 20 m east of a winepress, which was excavated in 1996 (HA-ESI 110:70*–71*). The tombs were built of roughly hewn kurkar slabs that were placed inside shallow pits dug into the kurkar hill. An infant burial was found in Tomb G2 (0.45 × 0.90 m) and a child was apparently interred in Tomb G3 (0.65 × 1.30 m). Adults were buried in the remaining three tombs (G1, G4, G5; average dimensions 0.8 × 1.7 m); two of them (G1, G4) were partially destroyed when the area was prepared for construction. The tombs were cleaned but not excavated.
A square burial structure (L101; 3.6 × 4.2 m; Fig. 2) whose walls (W1–4; thickness 0.35–0.55 m) were built of small stones and mortar was discovered in the northwestern part of the area. The walls were cast in a mold that was placed in a kurkar-dug pit and their outer face was not smoothed but conformed to the sides of the pit. Two dressed kurkar stones next to the center of W1 probably served as steps to descend inside. The excavation was suspended at a depth of 0.7 m below surface after bones were exposed and the floor of the structure was not reached.
A few non-diagnostic body fragments of jars and cooking pots were found in the vicinity of the cist tombs. The burial structure contained several ribbed potsherds, glass fragments, a fragment of a bone pin and two coins that dated to the Byzantine period (fourth-sixth centuries CE; IAA 80734, 80735).
The tombs are dated to the Byzantine period based on their construction and the ceramic finds in their vicinity. The finds from the burial structure are also dated to this period, although they originated in the fill rather than on the floor, which was not excavated. Nevertheless, the similarity to other burial structures in the area (HA-ESI 115:60*) and its proximity to the cist tombs imply that this burial structure should also be dated to the Byzantine period.