During July 2007, a salvage excavation was conducted in the region of Nahal ‘Adarim, within the precincts of the Nevatim Air Force Base (Permit No. A-5189; map ref. NIG 202812–77/565566–714, OIG 152812–77/065566–714), prior to the expansion of the base. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by E. Aladjem, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying and drafting).
The site was discovered in a flat landscape area during a survey preceding the expansion of the base. The openings of two caves and a cistern, 50 m northeast of them, were excavated. A farming terrace located c. 100 m south of the caves was documented.
The Caves (Figs. 1, 2) are c. 20 m apart and their openings face east; an excavation square was opened in the entrance of each. The caves were coarsely hewn and modern debris was found on their floors; it was not possible to reconstruct their complete dimensions. The remains of an animal pen enclosure wall, preserved a single course high (W10; length 3 m, width 0.3 m, height 0.1 m), were excavated c. 1.5 m east of the entrance to the western cave. A layer of soil mixed with sheep droppings (thickness c. 5 cm) was found within the enclosure.
The Cistern (Fig. 3) and a pool nearby were exposed. The cistern (depth 9 m), which was hewn in conglomerate bedrock, the pool that was used to collect the excess water, and the channel that connected them were coated with a layer of modern concrete. The cistern’s ceiling was built of concrete and a square capstone within it, which had a square perforation (0.5 × 0.5 m) in its center, was also made of poured concrete (1 × 1 m, height 0.6 m). The run-off and excess water were conveyed via a covered channel to the pool (1.5 × 2.0 m, depth 0.6 m), located south of the cistern. Steps built in the southeastern corner of the pool led down to its floor, which consisted of fieldstones bonded with mortar, as was the channel. No archaeological finds were discovered. The cistern is still used today but the pool is covered with silt.
Farming Terrace. The terrace, c. 100 m south of the caves, was preserved five courses high (length 13 m, preserved height 1.2 m; Fig. 4). It was oriented east–west and built of medium and large fieldstones.
The caves, the cistern and the farming terrace were and are still used to date by local shepherds.