In March 2016, an excavation was conducted in an area between Kibbutz Revivim and Kibbutz Retamim, along the bank of Nahal Revivim (Permit No. A-7671; map ref. 171679-792/551530-675), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Kibbutz Revivim, was directed by M. Pasternak, with the assistance of Y. Al-‘Amor (administration), Y. Haimi and Y. Abadi-Reiss (consultation) and laborers from Kuseifa.
A survey performed prior to the excavation revealed several agricultural terraces on sandy loess soil along the northeastern bank of Nahal Revivim (Fig. 1). Following the survey, a trial excavation was conducted in five walls, which delineated five of the terraces on the winding bank of the wadi bank; a single excavation square was opened in each of the walls (L100–L102, L200 and L201) and a portion of each wall was examined.
Square 100. A section (length 5.8 m) of a wall that ran for 80 m in a southwest–northeast direction that was part of a farming terrace supported by two walls of unworked fieldstones, with a fill of alluvium mixed with small stones and loess (0.7 m). The outer face of the farming terrace wall was built to a height of one course (Fig. 2) and the inner wall was constructed of mainly medium-sized stones (0.2 × 0.3 m) arranged to a height of ten courses (1.9 m; Fig. 3). The wall’s bottom three courses were built of larger stones (0.4 × 0.5 m).
Square 101. A section of a wall (length 5 m, width 0.3 m; Fig. 4) that extended in a northwest–southeast direction for 70 m; the southern portion of the wall curved to the east. The wall was built of a single row of unworked fieldstones (0.2 × 0.3 m) to a height of one course.
Square 102. A section of a wall (length 5.6 m) that continued 100 m in a northeast–southwest direction. It was constructed of five adjacent rows of unworked fieldstones (0.1 × 0.2 m). A further course of large unworked stones (0.3 × 0.4 m; Fig. 5) was revealed at a depth of 0.4 m.
Square 200. A section of a wall (length 5.4 m; Fig. 6) that continued for 190 m in a northwest–southeast direction. It was built of two rows of limestones and large unworked flint stones (width 0.75 m) to a height of one course and embedded in the loess soil.
Square 201. A section of a wall (length 3.5 m; Fig. 7) that extended for 80 m, built of a single row of limestone and unworked chalk. It stood to a height of four courses.
The excavation exposed sections of field walls, some of them agricultural terraces that were identified and documented in the survey. They were not uniform in size as evidenced by the number of their courses and their width. No finds of any kind were discovered that could assist in dating them. Remains of stepped agricultural terraces were found c. 10 km southeast of Nah
al Mis‘ad (Baumgarten, Eldar-Nir and Shemesh 2014), and agricultural terraces, encampments and agricultural dams from the Byzantine period were identified in the vicinity of the excavation (Baumgarten 2012). Surveys and previous studies indicate that the farming terraces date to the Byzantine period (Haiman 1992:91). The walls form a frame enclosing a section of Nahal Revivim that was intended to divert the flow of water and collect it efficiently for agricultural purposes. These finds add further evidence regarding the expansion of the agricultural hinterland and the increase in the number of permanent settlements in arid areas.
Baumgarten Y. 2012. Revivim (159)
(Archaeological Survey of Israel).
Baumgarten Y., Eldar-Nir I. and Shemesh N. 2014. Nahal Revivim (164)
(Archaeological Survey of Israel).
Haiman M. 1992. Farmers and Shepherds in the Negev Hill Country in the Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods. In S. Dar ed. Innovations in the Ancient Agriculture and Economy of the Land of Israel. Ramat Gan. Pp. 91–113 (Hebrew).