During July 2010, a trial excavation was conducted at Moshav Newe Mikha’el (Permit No. A-5962; map ref. 20138–45/61891–7; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a new settlement. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Eden Hills Company, Ltd., was directed by P. Betzer, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), V. Essman (surveying) and D. Levy (GPS).
The excavation was carried out within the precincts of the Horbat Buz (South) antiquities site. Rock-hewn and built installations, caves, tombs, building remains, as well as flint and potsherd scatterings, dating from the Neolithic to the Byzantine periods, had previously been surveyed in the region (HA-ESI 120; HA-ESI 122). Two winepresses and cupmarks were recently exposed near the current excavation area (License No. B-354/2010); two caves that may have been used as dwellings and several watchmen’s huts were examined to the north (License No. B-321/2007).
Three areas (A–C) were opened in the current excavation and three walls and a cave were exposed.
Area A. One square was opened and three walls, generally oriented east–west (W1–W3; Figs. 2, 3), were exposed. The walls, preserved a single course high, were founded on the bedrock and built of one (W3) or two (Walls 1, 2) rows of various size, roughly hewn stones. No floors or habitation levels were discovered next to the walls and no datable finds were found in their vicinity.
Area B. Two squares were excavated. The eastern square was devoid of finds and an opening of a natural cave was exposed in the western square (Fig. 4). The cave was not examined due to safety precautions, but a few non-diagnostic potsherds that may indicate it had been used in antiquity were found in front of it.
Area C. One square was excavated and no finds were discovered.
The absence of habitation levels or other walls suggests that the exposed walls in Area A were part of an animal pen or field structure in the agricultural vicinity along the fringes of Horbat Buz; the winepresses and cupmarks found nearby support this conclusion. At this stage, it is not possible to characterize the cave in Area B. It is probably a natural cave that was used as a dwelling or an animal pen, similar to other caves in the region (HA-ESI 122).