During November 2007, a trial excavation was conducted at Zur Natan (Permit No. A-5289; map ref. NIG 201114–42/683093–118; OIG 151114–42/183093–118), prior to the construction of a residential building. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the property owner, was directed by H. Torge, with the assistance of E. Bachar and S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration) and T. Meltsen and R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting).
The excavation area was located c. 50 m south of a former excavation at Khirbat Majdal, where a settlement from the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE) was exposed; it included numerous installations, dwellings and a large public building with an apse that was identified as a Samaritan synagogue (E. Ayalon 2002. Horvat Migdal (Zur Natan): An Ancient Samaritan Village. In E. Stern and H. Eshel (eds.). The Book of Samaritans. Jerusalem. Pp. 272–288).
Two excavation squares (c. 6 sq m; Fig. 1) were opened c. 2 m apart, in places where signs of rock cuttings in the chalk bedrock were discerned when probe trenches were dug by mechanical equipment.
A quarry was discovered in the southern square. It consisted of a shallow square recess (1.8 × 2.0 m, max. depth 0.13 m), whose southern and western sides were only preserved. The bedrock surface was c. 0.2 m lower to the north, while in the east a notch in the bedrock, which had been carved to detach stones from the quarry, was visible. The rock cuttings can not be used to determine the size or number of the stones hewn in the quarry.
Two quarries were identified in the northern square. The negatives of several square stones (average dimensions 0.2 × 0.3 × 0.3 m) that had been quarried were visible in a shallow rock cutting (2.0 × 2.5 m, depth 0.18 m) in the northern part of the square. The remains of steps with severance channels of four elongated stones (max. dimensions 0.3 × 0.3 × 1.8 m) were noted in the southern part of the square; however, the depth of the quarry indicates that other stones were possibly hewn there.
These quarries appear to have been part of the construction in the adjacent settlement. The outcrops of soft chalk bedrock in this region made it easy for the masons in the settlement to obtain a large number of stones in small quarries.