During July 2003, an archaeological survey was conducted in the region of Zor‘a Forest (Permit No. A-3863; map ref. 1980–90/6310–20), prior to preparing the area for a walking path. The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Gilead-Znobar Project Management Company, was directed by A. Nagorsky and H. Stark, with the assistance of A. Segal (landscape architecture) and L. Barda (GPS).
Important archaeological sites are located in the area of the survey, including Tel Zor‘a and Khirbat el-Tahuna. The survey was conducted in two areas, covered with dense vegetation, which are situated at the ends of the path.
Twelve archaeological sites (Fig. 1: 1–12) were discovered , including cave dwellings, rock-hewn agricultural installations and farming terrace walls.
Cisterns (1, 2). The cistern opening at Site 1 is destroyed. The opening of the cistern in Site 2 is rectangular (0.8×1.0 m); the sides of the shaft are hewn and lined with gray hydraulic plaster. The two cisterns were found filled with alluvium.
Rock-cut Installations (3, 6, 10). The surface (0.9×1.0 m) with the rounded corners in the installation in Site 3 is probably part of an oil bodeda, but no collecting vat was found. The installation in Site 6 is rectangular (1.0×1.6 m, depth 8 cm) and is located near a north–south oriented terrace wall. The wall is built of two rows of medium-sized fieldstones with a core of small stones. The installation in Site 10 has a rectangular surface (2.0×2.3 m, depth 0.4 m) that was found partially covered with soil. This is probably a treading floor of a winepress.
Rock-cuttings (4, 7).
Winepresses (5, 11, 12). The treading floors of the winepresses in Sites 5 and 11 are square (2×2 m), whereas that of the winepress in Site 12 is larger (7.0×8.5 m). The latter is probably industrial and its treading floor is surrounded by three other surfaces on the eastern side, possibly used for storing grapes, and two collecting vats on the western side. The treading floor and the storage surfaces are paved with white mosaic (size of tesserae 2 cm). The sides of the collecting vats are coated with gray plaster, embedded with potsherds that date to the Byzantine period.
Cave Dwellings (8, 9). The cave openings are wide. A section of gray hydraulic plaster was preserved in the western side of the cave in Site 8, possibly indicative of its earlier use as a cistern.
The sites discovered along the survey route reflect the agricultural use of the area, particularly the growing of vineyards during the Byzantine period in the region of Tel Zor‘a.