A salvage excavation was conducted in June 2000 in Nahal ‘Ashan (Permit No. A-3352; map ref. NIG 17789–810/57800–15; OIG 12789–800/07800–15), prior to digging a drainage channel. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y.Y. Baumgarten, assisted by H. Lavi (administration) and A. Hajian (surveying).
The site is located on the southern bank of the eastern part of Nahal ‘Ashan. Eight half excavation squares were opened along the channel and in two nearby places to the south, where antiquities were damaged (Fig. 1). Two units of antiquities in the west and the east, built in the loess soil and including scant remains from the Chalcolithic period and only ceramic finds from the Byzantine period, were discovered.
The Western Unit (Sqs A1–2)
Two pits in the northern part of the unit were discovered inside a large hollow in the soil (diam. 4 m). One pit was irregular (L119; c. 1.0 x 1.2 m) and the other––bell-shaped (L120; diam 0.7 m). A mace head was discovered in L120 and nearby, to the northeast, remains of hearths (L123) were discerned. South of the large hollow was a triangular opening that led to an elliptical underground chamber (L117; c. 2 x 3 m) hewn in the loess. Several flat stones were noted on its floor and an opening (L122; length c. 1 m), which could be a passage to another chamber but not completely excavated, was dug in its northern wall.
Alterations to the northern part of the unit occurred in a later phase. Walls (W110, W126) that formed an entryway to the opening of the underground chamber were built. A floor layer (L112) was added and the level of Floor 117 was raised. A wall (W113) that blocked the entrance to the underground chamber was built in the last phase and the area to the north filled up with stone and soil collapse.
The Eastern Unit (Sq A4)
A large hollow may have originally existed in this area as well. A floor (L115) and hearths were discovered at its bottom. Judging by the layers of yellowish loess it seems that water flowed in this area during a later phase. The loess soil was leveled and served as a floor (L114), upon which the hearths were positioned. The eastern wall of the hollow collapsed later and the area was leveled again. A wall (W125) was built, abutted by a floor (L124), above which a flint axe from the Chalcolithic period was found. Based on comparisons from other sites in the region, it seems that one or more openings were in the southern wall of the hollow, leading to an adjacent subterranean complex that was not excavated.
Habitation levels (L106) and concentrations of ceramic finds that included Gaza jars from the Byzantine period overlaid the strata from the Chalcolithic period.
The site is similar to Horbat Nahal ‘Ashan (HA 59–60) and the Be’er Sheva‘ sites of the Chalcolithic period, which consisted of underground rooms. Further up the slope were the remains of a farmstead that were not excavated. At the bottom of the slope, in a flat loess area were the remains of farming terraces, aligned north–south and perpendicular to the wadi channel. The building and the farming terraces seem to date to the Roman and Byzantine periods. Structures from the Chalcolithic period may have existed next to the building.