During January 2010, a trial excavation was conducted at Horbat Sirta (East; Permit No. A-5809; map ref. 21305–19/74624–33), in the wake of finds from a survey performed in June 2009, prior to the construction of an interchange on Highway 79, c. 2 km west of Somekh Junction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by R. Abu Raya, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), E. Stern, A. Yaroshevitz and A. Mitler (survey), L. Porat (area supervision), A. Hajian, H. Tahan-Rosen, R. Mishayev and Y. Nemichnitzer (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS) and M. Hartal (field photography).
Horbat Sirta is located on a chalky spur and at its top are building remains, winepresses, installations and farming terraces (not excavated), dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods. The excavation area was on a gentle rocky slope along the eastern fringes of the spur.
Rock-hewn installations, including two winepresses, a stone quarry and a small pressing installation, were excavated (Fig. 1).
Winepress 1 (map ref. 213056/746334; Figs. 2, 3) is a small simple, rock-hewn winepress. Its treading floor is located in the west (diam. c. 0.8 m, average depth 0.15 m) and a small hewn channel (length and depth c. 10 cm, width 5 cm) connected it to a collecting vat in the east (diam. c. 0.6 m, depth c. 0.35 m).
Winepress 2 (map ref. 213015/746285; Figs. 4, 5) is rock-hewn. The treading floor is square (2.0 × 2.1 m) and slopes eastward, leading to a round collecting vat (diam. c. 1.1 m), which was partially excavated (to a depth of 0.9 m ). A few worn potsherds dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods were found in the alluvial fill.
Quarry (map ref. 213106/746242; 5 × 10 m; Figs. 6, 7). A large stone (0.4 × 0.8 m, thickness 0.4 m), whose hewing was incomplete, was noted on the surface in the upper level of the quarry. On the bottom level, c. 1.2 m lower, a leveled quarrying pit (2.5 × 3.0 m) was exposed; it was covered with terra rossa fill that contained a meager amount of body fragments of vessels from the Roman or Byzantine periods.
Small Pressing Installation (map ref. 213192/746287; Fig. 8). A shallow round installation (diam. 0.5 m, depth c. 0.1 m) is hewn in limestone bedrock. It was probably used to process liquids.
The excavation finds point to an agricultural region that includes rock-hewn installations, some of which are associated with construction, such as the stone quarry, and some with the farming industry, i.e., the winepresses and the pressing installation.