During January 2003 a salvage excavation was conducted at Khirbat Birqat Umm al-‘Idham (Permit No. A-3806*; map ref. NIG 1946/6918; OIG 1446/1918) after ancient remains were discovered while overseeing work on Highway 57. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Department of Public Works, was directed by A. Bouchenino, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian and T. Kornfeld (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography) and M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (drawing).
Two areas (A, B) were opened c. 1 km apart and three half squares (I, II and III) were excavated.
Area A (Figs. 1, 2)
The excavation of Square I exposed a few pottery fragments with no architectural remains. A surface (L108; 1.0 × 1.1 m) of small stones was uncovered at the western end of the square. Its continuation (L104; 1.1 × 1.2 m, height 0.6 cm) was noted in the balk between Squares I and II. The western end of the surface was bound by a very thin layer of plaster that was apparently applied to a wall. Several wall sections (W10–W13) built of kurkar fieldstones were exposed south of L104.
The ceramic finds included bowls (Fig. 3:1), kraters (Fig. 3:2–4), lids (Fig. 3:5), cooking pots (Fig. 3:6–11), jars (Fig. 3: 12–15) and a lamp fragment (Fig. 3:16), dating to the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE).
It was impossible to determine the purpose of the stone surface and the walls due to the meager remains.
Area B (Figs. 4, 5)
Part of an installation (L202; diam. 1.07 m, wall thickness 0.27 m, height 0.75 m) was exposed in Square III. It was built of various-sized kurkar fieldstones within hamra fill. The installation was coated with two layers of plaster; the upper layer contained ribbed jars fragments from the Byzantine period, which were also recovered from the square itself.