During October–November 2004, an excavation was conducted north of the El-Burj village (Permit No. A-4270; map ref. NIG 1901–16/593–5; OIG 1401–16/093–5), along the route of construction for the separation fence. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by M. Haiman, with the assistance of E. Aladjem and N.S. Paran (area supervision) and A. Hajian (surveying).
Three areas (A1, A2, B) were opened over a distance of c. 200 m on the northern slope of the El-Burj village. Caves and quarries were exposed, as well as potsherds that dated mostly to the Roman and Byzantine periods and had been swept into the area. The paucity of finds indicates that this area was on the outskirts of an ancient settlement, which was probably located within the precincts of the village (c. 0.5 km to the south).
Area A1. Two zones of rock-cuttings (Loci 102, 104; c. 20 × 20 m; Figs. 1–3) were exposed on a bedrock surface. They included quarrying steps of rectangular bedrock blocks (max. dimension 0.4 × 0.6 m; Fig. 4), severance channels (width c. 0.1 m) and other rock-cutting marks. A cave opening (L101; 1.30 × 1.65 m) was located on the eastern part of the bedrock surface. The non-excavated cave was filled with alluvium to c. 1 m high below its ceiling and it appears to have been used as a dwelling up until c. 50 years ago.
Area A2. A cave (L106) that had a rectangular opening (0.4 × 0.6 m) was discovered c. 50 m northeast of Area A1. A hewn courtyard (4 × 8 m, depth c. 2.5 m; Fig. 5) fronted the cave, in whose chamber (c. 4 × 6 m, height 1.5 m; Fig. 6) were a burial kokh and other openings. The cave was not excavated, yet similar burial caves were common to the Late Roman period.
Rock-cut steps and in situ stone blocks (c. 0.4 × 0.6 m; Fig. 7) in the front of the cave point to its likely usage as a quarry at a later period.
Area B. A bedrock surface (7 × 8 m) was excavated c. 150 m west of Area A1. Signs of quarrying were visible on the surface and at its bottom was a natural cave, whose opening (1.1 × 1.7 m) led to an inner cavern (3.0 × 4.5 m).