A salvage excavation was conducted in January–February 1998 south of Shim‘a (L-800; map ref. NIG 20185/58820; OIG 15185/08820) prior to expanding the settlement. The excavation, on behalf of the Archaeological Staff Officer of Judea and Samaria, was directed by Y. Feller, assisted by M. Kahan and P. Portnov (surveying and drafting) and S. Ammami (photography).
A field tower from the Byzantine period, a winepress and two cave dwellings (1, 2), dating to the end of the Byzantine period–the Early Islamic period and the Mamluk period respectively, were excavated on a hill. A water cistern was recorded on the southern slope of the hill.
(Fig. 1). At the top of the hill was a square field tower (3.4
× 3.5 m) founded on bedrock. Its walls (width 0.75 m) had two faces; the outer row was built of large roughly hewn stones and the inner row––of small fieldstones. They were preserved four courses high (1.2 m). The bedrock served as the floor. The entrance (width 0.55 m) was set in the southeastern wall and included a rock-cut threshold, a door socket in its eastern side and doorjambs, in situ, flanking the entrance. Some pottery fragments from the Byzantine period were discovered in the tower.
× 1.38 m, depth 6 cm) and a short channel (length 8 cm) that led to an oval-shaped collecting vat (0.58 × 0.76 m, depth 0.36 m).
(Fig. 2). A small rock-cut winepress was exposed on bedrock surface, c. 25 m south of the field tower. It consisted of a treading surface (1.19
× 11.2 m, height 2.2 m) was revealed. It consisted of a large central chamber (5.1 × 9.9 m), with several narrow cells branching off of it. The entrance to the cave (width 5.45 m, height 6.30 m) faced east. Another small entrance (0.25 × 0.55 m) was in the western part of the cave’s ceiling and a circular stone trough (diam. 0.54 m) was in the southern part of the cave. A few pottery fragments from the end of the Byzantine period–the Early Islamic period (7th–8th centuries CE) and the Mamluk period (12th–14th centuries CE), as well as a grinding stone were found in the cave, which was probably used for dwelling in these periods.
(Fig. 3). On the eastern slope of the hill, c. 60 m southeast of the field tower, a natural cave (max. dimensions 9.9
× 3.65 m, height 1.2 m), wherein signs of rock cuttings were visible. The entrance to the cave (0.55 × 1.62 m) faced east; its northern part was blocked with a wall, built of large fieldstones. Three narrow steps led down from the entrance to the cave’s chamber. The cave was void of datable finds and it seems to have been used for dwelling as well.
Three bedrock-hewn cupmarks were uncovered in the vicinity of the cave; one was to its west (diam. 0.7 m, depth 0.6 m) and the other two––south of the cave’s entrance (diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.21 m).
(Fig. 4). Toward the bottom of the hill, c. 45 m east of Cave 1, was a natural cave (3.15