During April 1999 a salvage excavation was conducted in the Yattir Forest (Permit No. A-3043*; bounds of the surveyed area map ref. NIG 20745–850/58360–410; OIG 15745–850/
08360–410), in an area slated for the construction of a water reservoir and following a preliminary survey performed by J. Baumgarten and H. Lisitzin. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by N.S. Paran, with the assistance of H. Lavi (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), S. Lavi (pottery restoration) and Y. Casaby (pottery drawing).
During the survey, two sites were discovered and excavated on the eastern slope of one of Nahal ‘Anim’s channels, along with a cave, the remains of farming terraces in the wadi channel and orchards on the surrounding mountain slopes.
Some 5 km east of Horbat ‘Anim (map ref. NIG 20815/58390; OIG 15815/08390), a farm that consisted of several elements, relating to each other, was discovered. Most of the walls were visible on surface and the maximum depth of the fill down to bedrock was c. 0 .4 m.
. The farmhouse was rectangular (4.0 × 13.5 m) and composed of five rooms in a row (R1–5) located at the top of the slope, above the courtyard (below). The exterior walls (W1–4; 0.6–0 .7 m wide), built of two rows of medium- to large-sized fieldstones with a core of soil and small stones, were preserved a maximum of four courses high (0.8 m). The walls were mostly set on bedrock, which descended to the southeast; bedrock outcrops were visible in the courtyard. Another wall (W10), c. 0 .6 m from W2 and parallel to it, faced the courtyard. Wall 10, founded on bedrock, comprised a single row of large fieldstones (0.3–0 .5 m wide) and was preserved a single course high (0.7 m), which was 0.2 m below the height of W2 and seems to have been its original height. It apparently retained W2 of the building against the bedrock slope. The floors of the building were c. 0.15 m lower than the tops of the walls and consisted of bedrock surfaces, as well as tamped soil. The top of Retaining W10 was slightly lower than the elevation of the floors.
. The courtyard of the farm extended along a lower level, southeast of the building. Its irregular shape covered an area of c. 220 sq m, half was bedrock outcrop and the other half––a natural soil fill. The farmhouse bounded the courtyard on the northwest and along its perimeter was a curved wall (W7) built of a single row of large fieldstones (0.5–0.9 m) and preserved a maximum of three courses high (0.9 m). Many sections of the perimeter wall, especially those founded directly on bedrock, were completely washed away and the entry to the courtyard was not found. Two other walls (W11, W12) were exposed in the southern corner of the courtyard; together with the courtyard wall they formed a closed animal pen (c. 11 sq m). Three cupmarks (Loci 121–123; diam. 15–25 cm, depth 12–15 cm) were hewn in the bedrock outcrop of the courtyard, as well as three different-sized openings that led to the cave.
. Two of the openings to the cave were in the ceiling and the main cranny was on the edge of the bedrock outcrop near the center of the courtyard. The cave, which was partially blocked with debris that penetrated in via the large opening in the ceiling (1.8 × 2.5 m), seems to have extended under most of the bedrock outcrop area in the courtyard, under part of the building and it may even have extended beyond the courtyard limits. The fill in the cave, which had not accumulated up to the ceiling, was c. 0.7 m above the floor; the cave’s maximum height was originally c. 1.8 m.
Remains of walls, which were apparently built by Bedouins in the twentieth century CE to prevent the cave from filling up with debris, were discerned in the cave.
Most of the finds came from the rooms of the building and some were recovered from the courtyard; no artifacts were found in the cave. Fragments of pottery vessels that dated from the end of the Byzantine period or the beginning of the Early Islamic period (sixth–seventh centuries CE) included a flat bowl of Fine Byzantine Ware (Fig. 2:1), a deep bowl/cup of Fine Byzantine Ware (Fig. 2:2), a cooking krater (Fig. 2:3), jars (Fig. 2:4–6), among them one type of a late Gaza jar that probably continued until the end of the Umayyad period (Fig. 2:6) and two pilgrim flasks from the Early Islamic period that have a ribbed neck (Fig. 2:7, 8). Other finds consisted of two limestone basins, a fragment of a small basalt millstone and a basalt pestle.
A rock-hewn vat (1.15 × 1.45 m, 0.9 m deep) filled with debris was discovered c. 50 m northeast of the farm. The oval-shaped vat, whose use and date are unknown, had a step (0.15 × 1.10 m) cut c. 0 .2 m below its northern rim.