During August–September 2005, an excavation was conducted in the Yattir Forest (Permit No. A-4575*; map ref. NIG 20750/58495; OIG 15750/08495), prior to the construction of the separation fence. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by M. Haiman (photography), with the assistance of A. Freiberg (area supervision) and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting).
Two natural caves that were converted into dwellings by means of crude quarrying (100, 101), a rock-hewn burial cave (102), a quarry (106), two farming terraces (107, 110), a stone fence (112) and a rock-hewn winepress (300) were excavated. It seems that the excavation area was part of the agricultural hinterland of Horbat ‘Anim (Khirbat Ghuweina), located c. 150 m north of the excavation. Although no ceramic finds were discovered in the excavation it can be assumed that the burial cave, the winepress and the quarry date to the Roman and Byzantine periods. The two cave dwellings were in use until the War of Independence and the farming terraces are still being used by the residents of Horbat ‘Anim.
Caves 100 and 101 (Cave 100—3 × 5 m, height 1.5 m; Cave 101—c. 2 × 3 m, height 1.5 m; Figs 1–5). The ceilings of the two caves collapsed. Their bedrock floors were discovered at a depth of 0.4–0.5 m below surface. A layer of ash (thickness 3–5 cm) was found on the floors of the two caves and above it was an accumulation of earth and stones. The opening of Cave 101 was rectangular (width 0.9 m). The surface area around Cave 101 was enclosed by a stone fence. The two caves were apparently used as dwellings by shepherds until 1948.
Cave 102 (Figs. 6, 7). Remains of a burial cave that was not completely quarried. Below the bedrock-hewn opening (c. 1 × 2 m, depth c. 1 m) was a natural void (c. 1 × 2 m), with no other signs of quarrying and devoid of any artifacts. The opening is characteristic of arcosolium burial caves, yet the soft bedrock beneath it was apparently unsuitable for further quarrying.
Quarry 106 (Figs. 8, 9). Remains of rock-cuttings (1–3 × 2–4 m, max. depth 1 m) were exposed over a distance of c. 70 m. In one section of the quarry (6 × 8 m, depth 0.6 m) building stones had been hewn, as evidenced by quarrying marks of large stones (0.4 × 0.6 m) and severance channels (width 0.1 m).
Farming Terraces 107 and 110 (Terrace 107—length 30 m; Terrace 110—length 32 m; Figs. 10–12). The retaining wall of Terrace 107 was built of a row of fieldstones (length c. 0.3 m), one course high. The retaining wall of Terrace 110 was built of one course of various size fieldstones to a maximum of three courses high.
Stone Fence 112. The fence was built of one or two courses of stones (max. length 0.3 m) at the bottom of a slope. It delimited a cultivation plot (45 × 90 m).
Winepress 300 (Fig. 13). The bedrock-hewn winepress included a rectangular treading floor (1.8 × 3.2 m, depth 0.2 m) and a square collecting vat (0.7 × 0.7 m, depth 0.6 m).