During March 2004 an excavation was conducted north of Horbat Castra (Permit No. A-3848*; map ref. NIG 19735–50/74440–5; OIG 14735–50/24440–5; HA 15; ESI 7-8; HA-ESI 109, 111, 113, 117; ‘Atiqot 29:77–92), in the wake of damage to antiquities caused while installing a water pipe. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Israel Youth Hostel Association, was directed by A.S. Sa‘id, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting). D. Avshalom-Gorni (pottery reading) and M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (pottery drawing).
A single excavation square was opened inside the compound of the youth hostel, revealing two construction phases (Fig. 1). A north–south oriented water channel (L103; exposed length 4.65 m, width 0.2 m, depth 0.13 m) was attributed to the early phase. The base of the channel was built of ashlar stones, into which a narrow channel was hewn and the walls were constructed from dressed stones. A wall section (W105), built of two rows of fieldstones and preserved a single course high, was ascribed to the late phase. Wall 105 was built on the northern part of the channel, negating it. The remains were overlaid with an accumulation of brown soil that contained potsherds and small stones.
The ceramic finds recovered from the excavation (Fig. 2) included numerous fragments of imported red-slip bowls that dated to the fifth century CE (Fig. 2:1–4) and many jar fragments (Fig. 2:5, 6), dating to the fourth–fifth centuries CE, which are characteristic of the pottery in the north of the country.
The channel apparently conveyed water from an adjacent spring to one of the northern reservoirs of Horbat Castra during the fourth–fifth centuries CE.