During October 2002 a trial excavation was conducted c. 600 m west of Meisar village (Cross-Israel Highway Site 8; Permit No. A-3743*; map ref. NIG 20337–90/70558–93; OIG 15337–90/20558–93), within the framework of the Cross-Israel Highway Project. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the Cross Israel Highway Ltd., was directed by A. Dagot, with the assistance of M. Mulokandov (area supervision), S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), A. Glick (GPS), T. Sagiv (field photography) and M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (pottery drawing).
A rectangular tract (c. 100 × 400 m), oriented north–south, on the eastern slope of a hill in a forested area, was examined. Seven excavation areas (A–G; Fig. 1) were opened, revealing various installations.
Area A. Four squares were opened (Fig. 2). The aperture of a water cistern (L106; 1.1 × 2.4 m, at least 2 m deep) was in the southwestern part of the area. It was filled with large fieldstones (average size 0.3 × 0.6 × 0.3 m), mostly burnt. The cistern was not excavated. East of it was a wall section, oriented east–west (W112; 1.4 m long). The wall, built of a single row of large fieldstones (average size 0.3 × 0.4 × 0.3 m), was founded on bedrock. Another north–south oriented wall (W113; 2 m long), built of one row of smaller fieldstones (0.2 × 0.2 × 0.2 m), was visible in the eastern balk of the square. The layer of fill above the cistern aperture contained a large amount of carbon and burnt fieldstones. Circular, bedrock-hewn cupmarks were exposed in the northern part of the area.
Areas B and D consisted of several rock-hewn remains.
Area C comprised a rock-hewn winepress with a square treading floor (L300; 2.4 × 2.5 m; height of walls 0.2 m; Fig. 3) and a collecting vat (L301; 0.7 × 1.7 m) whose top was destroyed. The vat’s upper part (to a depth of 0.8 m) was hewn in hard nari bedrock and its bottom was quarried in softer limestone (to an additional depth of 0.5 m). Traces of thick grayish-white plaster were visible on the walls.
Area E. Rock-cuttings in limestone (to a depth of 2.5 m; Fig. 4) were exposed over a distance of 21 m. They probably belonged to a quarry that extended north and south beyond the excavation area. Stones in a variety of sizes were extracted and several remained in situ (average size 0.25 × 0.35 × 0.45 m).
Area F. A section of a massive wall (width 1.5 m, preserved height 0.5 m) was exposed over a distance of 4.5 m at the western end of the area. It was oriented north–south and built of very large fieldstones with smaller fieldstones incorporated between them. A narrower wall (length 1 m, width 0.3 m, preserved height 0.25 m) built of a single row of medium-sized stones was founded on bedrock, abutting the massive wall from the east.
Area G included two farming terraces oriented north–south (W702, W703; See Fig. 1).
The installations indicate that agriculture and quarrying were conducted in the area. Similar installations were found in a survey that had previously been performed in the region, east and west of the excavation (Survey Map of Ma‘anit , 1990: Site 34). A small amount of potsherds was found, dating to the Early Roman period (end of the first century BCE–beginning of the first century CE), including cooking pots (Fig. 5:1–3), jars (Fig. 5:4–7) and a jug (Fig. 5:8). It therefore seems that the installations belonged to a site of the same period, which was excavated by K. Sa‘id at Kafr Meisar (Permit No. A-3602).