During 2002–2003 short excavations were conducted at ‘En Ya‘el (Permit No. A-3654*; map ref. NIG 21714–26/62762–80; OIG 16714–26/12762–80). The excavations, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and the ‘En Ya‘el Living Museum and within the framework of an education project, were directed by R. Avner and S. Shuval (‘En Ya‘el supervisor), with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying), G. Edelstein (scientific assistance and guidance), N. Ha-Me’iri (activating volunteers) and E. Belashov (drafting). Also participating were ‘En Ya‘el campers, young volunteers from the Boyer and Himmelfarb Schools and from the Mesila, al-Rad and Shu‘fat shelters for protected youth.
The excavation was conducted c. 15 m west of the villa and mosaics excavated by G. Edelstein (ESI 5:30–33; 7–8:54–57; Qadmoniot 26 1994:114–119 [Hebrew]).
Four squares (10 × 10 m) were opened; three were excavated and two (Areas A, B) yielded architectural remains. Two walls were exposed; one in Area A, in the southeast (W1000) and the second (W1001) in Area B, in the northwest (Figs. 1, 2). The foundation course of W1000 was built of medium-sized fieldstones, surmounted by two additional courses of large, carefully dressed ashlars (3.8 m long, 2.02 m wide, preserved height 1.9 m). Each course consisted of two rows of dressed stones placed on either side of a thick core that comprised roughly hewn stones. The stones were bonded with gray-white plaster and a fill of medium and large fieldstones was inserted between the courses. An impressive doorway (1.02 m wide) whose threshold and doorjamb stones were meticulously dressed was exposed. The doorjambs protruded from the wall, 18 cm on the southern side and 48 cm on the northern side. The threshold (1.5 m long, 0.9 m wide) consisted of two large stones that abutted the wall on the west. A door socket (diam. 13 cm, depth 12 cm) was located in the southeastern corner of the threshold. The scraping of the door across the threshold stones created a groove (55 cm long, max. 7 cm deep near the doorway) that became shallower toward the north. A recess for a bolt (diam. 9 cm, depth 3 cm) was in the northeastern corner of the threshold, to whose west was a collapse (L104), c. 40 cm lower than the wall, which was not excavated. A fill of grayish brown soil that contained fragments of molded plaster (L105) was excavated east of W1000; it is not clear if the plaster originated in the room east of W1000 or in the villa, whose plaster fragments were discarded here. Stones were found next to the doorway and the southern doorjamb of W1000, indicating a later blockage that was not excavated and the cancellation of the doorway in the wall.
The construction method, the use of large and meticulously dressed ashlar stones in the doorway and the type of bonding material are identical to those of the mosaic-decorated villa and the orientation of W1000 also corresponds to the walls of the villa.
The upper course of W1001 (8.3 m long, 1.24 m wide) was exposed in Area B and two courses (0.8 m high) at its western end were discovered on surface. The wall formed a corner to the west with another wall (W1002) that was visible on surface (10 m long, 2.15 m wide). Each course of W1001 and W1002 was similarly built of two rows of haphazardly dressed stones with a core of small and medium-sized fieldstones and soil.
The three walls, W1000, W1001 and W1002, either belonged to or preserved the routes of more ancient walls from the Roman period. They probably related to the villa on the east. It should be noted that the villa at ‘En Ya‘el was spread across an extensive area and included several structures that fulfilled various functions, as was customary in Roman villa rustica.