During September 2002, an excavation was conducted at a site c. 300 m southwest of Be’er Ora (Permit No. A-3730; map ref. NIG 19730/40235; OIG 14730/90235), as part of activities to perpetuate the memory of the late Benny Meisner. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and in cooperation with the Elat Field School, was directed by Y. Israel, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), N. Sneh (field and studio photography) and I. Dudin (pottery drawing).
On the floor in Building 1, two fragments of a rim from a bowl of Mahesh Warethat probably originated from Ayla in Aqaba (Fig. 3:1) and a base of a jug (?; Fig. 3:2), both dating to the Early Islamic period, were discovered. A meager amount of organic material that included the remains of textiles and cordage, acacia remains, date pits, almond shells and several animal bones was found below the building collapse. A copper bell with an iron clapper (Fig. 4) was discovered hidden next to Installation 107; nearby were sheep droppings, indicating that the local residents were engaged in raising sheep, among other things. A smooth glass gem (Fig. 5) that apparently dated to the Early Islamic period was discovered on the floor of the eastern room. A copper slag and a nail were found on the floor in the building.
(5 × 9 m; Figs 1, 2), at the western end of the site, consisted of two rooms. The walls (W300–W303; width 0.7 m, preserved height 1.2 m) were built of two rows of fieldstones bonded with soil and stones and plastered with mud; the floor was tamped earth. The building was covered with acacia branches, to which wattle and daub were applied; remains of the roof were discovered on the building’s floor and in its collapse. Three entrances (width 0.5–0.7 m) were noted in the eastern room (L100; 3.5 × 3.5 m). Two of them, in the northern and western walls, were discovered blocked by narrow walls and it therefore seems that at some point in time they were converted for use as niches. This change in the use of the entrances probably indicates two sub-phases in the building. A built threshold was discovered in the entrance set in the room’s southern wall. A niche (L106; 0.4 × 0.5 m), probably used for storage, was in the wall that separated the two rooms, c. 1 m above the floor. Next to the southern entrance and on the floor of the room, a hearth was found (L123). An entrance was discovered in the western wall of the western room (L101; 3.5 × 3.7 m). Installations (L103—0.3 × 0.5 m; L107—0.5 × 0.6 m; L108—0.9 × 1.4 m; L109—0.5 × 0.5 m), set on the floor and surrounded by stones, were discovered in all the corners of this room. Collapse and four hearths (Loci 116–119) were exposed outside the building. A rectangular installation (2.5 × 3.0 m) built of a single course of stones was discerned c. 35 m north of the building. It resembled the built installations that were uncovered in the previous excavation season at the site (HA-ESI 121
, Loci 49, 61) and may have been used for prayer.
Building 2 (3.3 × 4.8 m; Figs. 6, 7) was at the eastern end of the site, c. 140 m east of Building 1 and next to the water source of Be’er Ora on the west. It consisted of a single room whose walls (W306–W309; width 0.5 m, preserved height 0.9 m) were built of two rows of fieldstones and wadi pebbles, bonded with soil. The floor (L122) was tamped earth and above it were three pottery body fragments that could not be dated and sheep droppings. The entrance (width 0.5 m) had a stone-built threshold and was set in the eastern wall. The collapse in the center of the building concealed a hearth (L131) located 0.15 m above the floor, which indicates that after the building was abandoned and some of its walls had collapsed, the structure was still being used. Additional collapse, which included earth and stones, was exposed outside the building. Another hearth (L127) was discerned outside of the building and next to the western wall. An area cleared of stones was observed in the front of the building, opposite the entrance. Two other cleared areas were noted north of the building and on a wadi terrace higher than the building.
(3 × 3 m; Figs. 7, 8) was 20 m east of Building 2. It consisted of a single room whose curved walls (W310–W313; width 0.5 m, preserved height 0.7 m) were built of fieldstones and bonded with earth. The floor (L130) was tamped earth and the entrance (width 0.5 m) was set in the northern wall. Based on the preserved height of the walls and the relatively meager amount of stone collapse, it seems that the building was not roofed. Two hearths (Loci 128, 132) were exposed outside, next to the western wall of the building. A cleared area (L120) was discerned east of the building and a round stone-built installation was noted to its northeast. Installations built of fieldstones and wadi pebbles were to the northwest of the building. The plans of Buildings 2 and 3 resemble those of other structures that had previously been exposed and documented in the vicinity (HA-ESI
114:102*–104*, HA-ESI 121