During December 2002, a salvage excavation was conducted within the precincts of ‘Ara village (Permit No. A-3796; map ref. 20659–700/71200–16), in the wake of damage to antiquities. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Abu Hamid, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying and drafting) and T. Sagiv (field photography) and A. Pikovski (drawing of finds).
The excavation area is located at the bottom of a southwestern slope, c. 200 m north of Highway 65. To the northeast, burial caves dating to the Middle and Late Bronze Ages and the Roman period, had been exposed in the past (HA-ESI 122
A tabun that could not be dated was uncovered and rock-hewn caves were exposed, but not excavated; these were probably part of the cemetery that had been uncovered in previous excavations.
The caves, hewn in chalk bedrock, were discovered filled with alluvium (1–9; Fig. 1; elevations are relative). Caves 4 and 5 are probably one single cave. A fieldstone-built wall (W140) that probably served as a partition in one of the caves was exposed between Caves 3 and 4. While cleaning the bedrock at the bottom of the slope, part of a bronze dagger (Fig. 2) that probably dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age and may have been broken as part of a funerary ceremony, was discovered.
Two squares (A, B; Fig. 3; elevations are relative) were opened south of the slope. A tabun was exposed in Square B (L126); it was founded on a surface of small and medium-sized fieldstones (L129). A few small and worn potsherds, insufficient for dating the remains, were found.