During February–March 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted at the Or ‘Akiva antiquities site (Permit No. A-5861; map ref. 192573–619/713793–837), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Villar International Company, Ltd., was directed by E. Oren (field photography, surveying and preliminary drafting), with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam and E. Bachar (administration), N. Zak (drafting), P. Gendelman (pottery reading) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
The excavation was located next to the northeastern fringes of the Or ‘Akiva antiquities site (Fig. 1), at an elevation of 11 m above sea level. Numerous antiquities had been revealed in previous excavations at the site, including remains of a road from the Roman period (ESI
15:52–54), sarcophagi from the Late Roman period (HA-ESI
110:35*), mausoleum remains from the Roman period (HA-ESI
115:33*), buildings, a well and a roundabout dating to the Byzantine–Umayyad periods (‘Atiqot
61:49–59 [Hebrew]), a Hellenistic farmhouse, limekiln and winepress (‘Atiqot
61:51–72), a Byzantine water installation (HA-ESI 122
, HA-ESI 122
), as well as quarries and Roman installations (Permit No. A-5714).
Three squares (A1, A2, A3) were opened and habitation levels that dated to the Byzantine period (end of sixth–seventh centuries CE) were discovered.
Mechanical equipment was used to remove a layer of modern refuse mixed with sand (L101; thickness 0.5–1.0 m) that was spread out in all three squares. Below Layer 101 in Square A2 was dark gray soil that contained a large amount of potsherds (L103; thickness c. 0.3–0.5 m; Figs. 2, 3). A similar layer was discovered in Squares A1 and A3 (Fig. 4). The potsherds comprised mostly Late Roman D (Fig. 5:1) and C-type bowls (Fig. 5:2), rims of baggy-shaped jars (Fig. 5:3) and rims of Gaza-type jars (Fig. 5:4, 5). Below Layer 103 was a sterile layer of dark soil (L104; thickness c. 0.7–0.8 m) and a layer of sand (L110; thickness c. 0.4–0.5 m) that covered the ground water layer.
A layer that dated to the end of the sixth–beginning of the seventh centuries CE and yielded large amounts of ceramics was exposed in the three squares. This layer attests to a habitation level from the Byzantine period, although no architectural remains ascribed to this period were discovered.