During August–September 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted at Aloney Abba (Permit No. A-4875; map ref. NIG 21591–601/73678–85; OIG 16591–601/23678–85), in the wake of discovering antiquities while developing a new neighborhood in the moshav. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the moshav, was directed by L. Porat, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), V. Essman, V. Pirsky and T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS and drafting), H. Smithline (field photography), D. Syon (metal detection) and R. Frankel and N. Getzov (consultation).
The excavation was carried out along the western slope of a hill, c. 500 m southwest of its summit, where remains of a small settlement (farmstead?) had been surveyed in the past and potsherds from the Iron Age until the Byzantine period were collected (Map of Nahalal , 1983, Site 45).
Three areas (A–C) were opened. Remains of a paved path from the Roman period were discovered in Area A; a cistern and a winepress were exposed in Area B and two water cisterns; remains of a quarry and a cave, in which an oil press was installed, were exposed in Area C.
was opened at the bottom of the slope. A wall (length c. 5 m) built of large fieldstones, with a row of ashlar stones incorporated between them, was exposed close to surface in the southern square (3.2 × 4.0 m). Fragments of pottery vessels from the Hellenistic and Roman periods were found in the clayey soil alongside the wall. These remains were probably the continuation of the paved path that was discovered to their north (HA-ESI 120)
. The corner of a building, preserved two courses high, was exposed near the surface in the northern square (2.5 × 5.0 m). The foundation course of fieldstones was placed on bedrock and two ashlar stones above it had remained from the bottom course of the wall and just protruded above surface. Potsherds dating to the Hellenistic and Roman periods were found.
Area B was opened further up the slope, c. 55 m east of Area A. The cleaning of bedrock surfaces exposed a cistern (not excavated) and a winepress to its south (Fig. 1). The winepress consisted of a square treading floor (2.17 × 2.20 m) and a rectangular collecting vat (0.65 × 1.04 m, depth 0.27 m) that were aligned perpendicular to each other. Two wide perforations conveyed the liquid from the treading floor to the collecting vat. Similar winepresses at Ta‘anach and other sites were dated to the Middle Bronze Age (‘Atiqot 44:195–207).
Area C was opened c. 50 m northeast of Area B, further up the slope. The oil press installed in the cave (7 × 10 m), whose ceiling was damaged during development work, had survived in its entirety (Fig. 2). A staircase hewn in the opening of the cave, which faced southeast, led to a built entrance where two doorjambs stood in situ.
The basin (yam) of an olive crushing mill was situated to the right of the entrance, in the northeastern part of the cave. It seems that the original yam and the revolving wheel (memmel) were made of limestone, but after they became worn, a basalt memmel was placed in the yam; a limestone memmel that was probably the original one was found on the floor of the cave. A Maresha-type olive press was constructed opposite the entrance, along the southern side of the cave. A niche for anchoring the olive press’ beam was installed in the western side of the cave. A central collecting vat was hewn opposite it and around the edge of the vat was a groove where a press bed was positioned and on which the ‘aqalim (baskets used to hold crushed olives for pressing) were piled. Two smooth betulot (stone piers) were set on either side of the vat. Between the collecting vat and the cave entrance was a rectangular rock-hewn pit that contained four olive press weights.
The finds from the cave indicate that it was first used in the Hellenistic period and continued to be used until the Middle Roman period. On the floor of the cave were fragments of pottery vessels, bone spoons for processing the olive mash, a stone seal that is decorated with a bird and a date-palm or olive branch, as well as two Roman coins from the time of Trajan (98–117 CE): a silver tetradrachma that was struck in the mint of Tyre (IAA 106198) and a bronze coin from the mint of Sepphoris (IAA 106197).