The compound was divided into seven areas (A–D, A1, B1, B2; Fig. 1): Area B1 on the hilltop of Horbat Ashun, Area B on the southern slope of the ruin, Area B2 on the northern and western slopes of the ruin, Area C on the hill northeast of the ruin, Area D on the hill southeast of the ruin, Area A on the hill southwest of Horbat Ashun, and Area A1 along the route of a planned road extending from the northwestern end of the compound in the direction of the northern industrial zone that includes part of Horbat Ha-Mutzav.
A Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple was exposed at Horbat Ashun (map ref. 19853/645673). It dates from the Late Hellenistic period (second century BCE) to the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 CE). The settlement, which we identified as a fortified farmstead (Zissu 2001:260–264), included a spacious farmhouse and an industrial area where there was an oil press, industrial winepress, ritual bath and storerooms. During the Late Roman period (third century–beginning of the fifth century CE), an agricultural estate was constructed above the ruins of the settlement from the time of the Second Temple period, of which a large estate house, another building and a complex winepress were exposed. On Horbat Ha-Mutzav (map ref. 197698/646322) part of a farmhouse was uncovered that was constructed in the Hellenistic period and operated until the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Numerous agricultural finds were discovered on the surrounding hills: winepresses, cultivation plots, agricultural terraces, field towers, stone clearance heaps, quarries, limekilns, agricultural roads and caves, some of which were used for burial. Remains of flint mining and quarrying and tool knapping from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (8500–7500 BCE) were also documented in several areas. Most of the activity in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A was identified in Area D and included cupmarks, rock-cuttings in order to remove chunks of flint and also concentrations of knapped flint items that are characteristic of the period. These phenomena are known from prior surveys and excavations in the Modiʽin area (Spivak 2010; Zbenovich 2006; Herzlinger, Grosman and Goren-Inbar 2013). The principal architectural remains that were uncovered in Horbat Ashun and Horbat Ha-Mutzav will be presented in this preliminary report.
Horbat Ashun
Seven strata (VII–I; Table 1; Fig. 2) were identified at Horbat Ashun (Kh. el-Wasūn). The remains of the earliest settlement date to the Persian period. Between the third century BCE and the Bar Kokhba Revolt, a farmstead was active there that included a farmhouse and an industrial area. Six construction phases (below) were discerned in the farmhouse (c. 54 × 70 m; Fig. 3), and it included residential quarters, storerooms, courtyards with installations, cisterns and underground cavities. A building, cistern, oil press, ritual bath and industrial winepress were exposed in the industrial area. Another structure that served as an estate house in the Late Roman period was discovered north of the Second Temple farmhouse. In the Umayyad period cultivation plots were built on top of the ancient settlement remains, and they were probably used until modern times.  
Table 1. The strata at Horbat Ashun
Cultivation plots
Late Roman
An agricultural estate: estate house, another building and an industrial winepress
Middle Roman (between the revolts)
A fortified farmstead: fortifications were added, hiding complexes were hewn and rooms were added (Phase 6)
Early Roman
A fortified farmstead: rooms were added (Phase 5)
Late Hellenistic (Hasmonean)
A fortified farmstead: farmhouse, industrial area and oil press (Phases 2–4)
Early Hellenistic
Farmhouse (Phase 1)
Meager architectural remains
Persian Period. Pottery sherds and several architectural remains were found south of the southern wall of the late farmhouse. Their meager preservation did not make it possible to reconstruct an architectural plan, but it seems that a building was already in place there at that time.
Early Hellenistic Period (Phase 1 of the farmhouse). At the southeastern end of the farmhouse were the remains of a building (a; 14.2 × 15.2 m) that was oriented diagonally relative to the rest of the farmhouse. The construction of the building was dated to the third century BCE.
Late Hellenistic (Hasmonean) Period (Phases 2–4 of the farmhouse and the industrial zone). In the middle of the second century BCE, it was apparently decided to expand the farm and construct a complex of buildings (b–d) with massive walls and an industrial area. Building b (Phase 2; 22 × 22 m) had an inner courtyard surrounded by rows of rooms. The outer walls of the structure were built of large boulders (0.7 × 0.8 × 1.7 m). A bodeda—an installation used for extracting olive oil—and a cistern were exposed in the courtyard. It seems that slightly later (Phase 3) Building c (13 × 25 m; Fig. 4) which had two rows of rooms that flanked a corridor was added just east of Building b and south of Building a. The construction style of Building c was different than that of Building b; the building stones were smaller and the northern wall was constructed of roughly hewn stones. The northern rooms were entered from the north, through the northern courtyard of the farmhouse, and the southern rooms were reached by way of the corridor. A hoard of silver coins from the Hasmonean period (Fig. 5) that included shekels and half shekels (14 tetradrachms and two didrachms) was found next to the northern wall of one of the rooms in the southern row. The coins were minted in Tyre and bear the likeness of Antiochus VII and his brother, Demetrius II. The hoard contained one or two coins from each year between 135–126 BCE and represented nine consecutive years. The area south of Building c served as a courtyard with a cistern in it and two rock-hewn installations, probably used for crushing.
During this period courtyards were added (Phase 4): Courtyard d to the west and other courtyards to the north and south of Buildings c and b. Six storage pits, a bodeda, as well as six hewn bathtubs were exposed in the courtyards. The bathtubs had a single step and a sump in the floor; white plaster was preserved in two of the baths (Fig. 6). The bathtubs were large enough so that an adult could sit in it and wash. The courtyards were delimited on the west by a wide wall (0.85 m) built of large boulders. The wall continued north of Buildings b and c, suggesting that there was a northern courtyard. This courtyard was entered from the west, through a wide opening (1.15 m), whose doorjambs were preserved to a height of 1.3 m; a bolt hole was discerned in the southern doorjamb. Rock-hewn installations were exposed in the northern courtyard, including a bathtub in the northeastern corner. A voluminous water cistern (floor diam. 8 m, depth 9 m, capacity c. 450 sq m; Fig. 7) with a square rock-cut opening (1 × 1 m) was exposed in the southeastern corner of the farmhouse. The walls of the installation were treated with thick and smooth, light colored plaster. The eastern end of the farmhouse’s southern wall was built on a slope and curved to enclose the cistern within the built-up area.
In the northeastern part of Horbat Ashun, a complex of buildings and installations (Fig. 8), identified as an industrial zone, was exposed. It included a building, a cistern, an olive press, a ritual bath and an industrial winepress. The crushing basin and three tethering weights were preserved from the olive press. A building that was probably used in conjunction with the olive press, built on two levels and founded on two natural bedrock terraces, was exposed east of the crushing basin. The outer walls of the two levels were built of large fieldstones, as in Buildings b and c. An elongated room (f; 4 × 11 m) on the lower level was probably meant for storage. Three floor levels were exposed in a section excavated at the southern end of the room, and a rock-hewn bathtub was exposed beneath the bottom floor. A courtyard extended east of the elongated room. A water cistern was situated adjacent to the northern wall of the courtyard. Four rooms were identified in the upper level (g; 9 × 13 m). In the southwestern room there was an opening to a rock-hewn antechamber, which had an opening in its western wall, leading into a cave (c. 5 × 7 m). Since part of the cave’s ceiling collapsed, it was not excavated for safety reasons. It is possible that the olive press was inside the cave.
A ritual bath (miqveh) was exposed just east of the upper level, which included a staircase that led to the opening of a rectangular underground cavity (3 × 4 m, max. height 2.5 m), hewn in the bedrock. Inside the bath were four additional steps that led to an immersion pool. The bath walls were treated with a thick application of white plaster. Southeast of the bath was an industrial winepress that comprised a square treading floor (5.6 × 5.6 m), with a filtration pit (1.31 × 1.27 m, depth 0.70) and a collecting vat (1.93 × 2.13 m, 1.85) to its west. Two phases were identified in the winepress: an early phase, when it was probably part of the industrial zone during the late Hellenistic–Early Roman periods, and a late phase that dated from the Late Roman period (below).
Early Roman Period (Second Temple Period) (end of first century BCE – first century CE; Phase 5 of the farmhouse). A wing of rooms (e) was added to the farmhouse south of Building b. The wing was built in an area that served as a courtyard in the Late Hellenistic period. The floor in three rooms was founded above storage pits from the Late Hellenistic period.
Middle Roman Period (Between the Revolts) (Phase 6 of the farmhouse). Finds from this period were exposed in all the wings of the farmhouse, as well as in the building to the north (h). At the beginning of the second century CE, probably prior to the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 CE), the row of northern rooms of Buildings b and c was filled with large stones and soil, so as to form a broad wall (c. 3 m; Fig. 9) and fortify the structure. A fortified room was built in the northeastern corner of the farmhouse, which negated the northeastern room of Building c. Apparently, it was during this phase that hiding complexes were hewn, four of which were exposed. They connected spaces such as storage pits and water cisterns, and led from the rooms to the courtyards and from there out of the farmhouse.
Late Roman Period. An agricultural estate was built above the ruins of the settlement from the Second Temple period: an estate house (h), another building (i) and a complex winepress were exposed. The upper floors of the estate house date from the Late Roman period. Floors and walls dating from the Second Temple period—from the Hasmonean period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt—were found below the three rooms where the floors were excavated. The doorways of the estate house were found blocked by construction, and it seems that the building was abandoned at the beginning of the fifth century CE.
The estate house (h; 16 × 20 m; Fig. 10) had two courtyards in the east and six rooms in the west. The entrance to the structure was in the south, through a wide threshold leading into a courtyard. An architrave discovered among the ruins in the courtyard probably adorned one of the openings. In the southern wall of the courtyard there was an opening to a rock-hewn cave that was used for burial, and human bones, animal bones, a decorated Roman altar (Fig. 11), as well as numerous pottery vessels and glassware dating from the Late Roman period, were found in it. Two entrances from the southeastern courtyard led to the western rooms; another entrance led to the courtyard from the north.
Building i (8 × 16 m) was constructed inside the northern courtyard of the farmhouse from the Second Temple period. It seems that the massive western wall of the farmhouse, in which an impressive opening was preserved, served as the western wall of the building. The building was divided into five rooms. Two tabuns that may have been used until the beginning of the Byzantine period were exposed east of the building.
During this period, the industrial winepress (Fig. 12) was renewed in the eastern part of the ruin. A storage compartment (1.88 × 1.93 m) was added to it in the east, and a screw fixture for secondary pressing was placed in the middle of the treading floor, which was paved with industrial-style white mosaic.
Umayyad–Ottoman Periods. During these periods, the hill was used for agriculture. Walls that delimited cultivation plots were built above the walls of the farmhouse. Small and medium fieldstones, characteristic of field walls, were piled above the remains of the ancient walls. Two gold dinars minted in Damascus by the Umayyad rulers Walid and Suleiman Abd al-Malik in the years 711 and 716 CE were found between the stones of the field wall and the western wall of the farmhouse. The coins were evidently hidden inside the field wall during the Umayyad period or later.
Horbat Ha-Muzav
Two ridges north of Horbat Ashun there is another ruin on a hill with an IDF training outpost; hence it is called Horbat Ha-Muzav. In 2012, antiquity robbers were apprehended while digging in a ritual bath (miqveh) in the eastern part of the ruin; this bath was excavated in the current excavation, as well as part of an adjacent building that was probably a farmhouse (Fig. 13).
The building (13 × 17 m), which was erected in the Hasmonean period (second century BCE), had six rooms and a courtyard. Its walls were built of large fieldstones. During the Early Roman period, the ritual bath was added to the building, and some of the floors were raised. The building was damaged during the First Revolt (68 CE); however, it was rehabilitated and continued to function until the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 CE). In preparation for the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the residents hewed a hiding complex beneath their house, which was accessed through a rock-cut shaft in the center of the building. The subterranean complex led to hiding rooms and to the ritual bath (Fig. 14).
The excavations add a great deal of information about the ancient settlement patterns and agriculture activity on the hills surrounding Modiʽin. Understanding the settlement phases in the research area expands our knowledge regarding the agricultural systems in the landscape, and enables us to understand the development of the area, while incorporating all its components.