During February 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted south of Moshav Kefar Uriya (Permit No. A-6097; map ref. 194494–602/633407–518), in the wake of discerning archaeological remains in a trench dug for a water pipe. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Meqorot Water Company, was directed by D. Storchan (field photography), with the assistance of N. Nechama (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), Y. Shmidov (drafting), and N. German and R. Greenwald (archeological inspection).
Three squares (1–3; Fig. 2) were excavated in this area, located c. 7 m south of the Nahal Uriya stream bank. A long wall (W1; exposed length 11.5 m), oriented southeast-northwest, was exposed parallel to the streambed. Two constructional phases of the wall were identified. The early phase was only noted in Sq 3, where the wall was built of extremely large boulders and was preserved two courses high (max. 1 m; Fig. 3). During the later phase, identified in Sqs 1 and 2, a slightly curving row of large fieldstones was adjoined to the earlier phase of W1 (Fig. 4). This later segment of the wall was probably added to repair a localized collapse of the wall.
A single excavation square was opened 80 m northwest of Area A (Fig. 5). A large field wall segment (W2; exposed length 4 m, width 1.5 m) was exposed. The wall, oriented southwest-northeast, was built perpendicular to the stream. It was set upon alluvial soil and consisted of two rows of large fieldstones, separated by a gap filled with earth (width 0.5 m; Fig. 6). To the north of W2, a jumble of large fieldstones was uncovered. It is unclear if the stones were part of an additional wall or the collapse of W2, as no clear lines were discerned.
The location of the excavation in a valley and on the periphery of a much larger domestic site would suggest that both W1 and W2 were built for agricultural purposes. Wall 1 was probably built to direct the flow of the stream and support the bank from erosion or collapse; at the same time, it would have protected the stream from erosion and clogging. Evidence of two phases in the construction of W1 indicates that care was taken to repair and routinely maintain its functionality. Similar walls, built along seasonal streams, are well known throughout Israel. Unlike W1, Wall 2 was built perpendicular to the stream and slope and seems to have served as a damn or retaining wall. After the excavation, W2 was uncovered for another 18 m to the south, with the aid of a tractor.
Badly warn potsherds were recovered from all areas of the excavation. The ceramic assemblage included diagnostic potsherds from the Roman to the Early Islamic periods, although the majority can be dated to the Byzantine period.
Both walls W1 and W2, coupled with the simple field walls encountered during the preliminary trenching, seems to have worked together in a larger intensive agricultural system, which included walls for terracing and support, as well as field walls for marking agricultural plots, and for the intentional direction of the seasonal drainage. As most of the potsherds found during the excavation can be dated to the Byzantine period, it seems likely that this system was erected and intensively used during this period.