During April 2003 a trial excavation was conducted alongside the approach road to Moshav Ben Zakay, c. 2 km south of Yavne (Permit No. A-3873*; map ref. NIG 175435–510/640837–970; OIG 125435–510/140837–970), prior to the construction of the Ben Zakay Interchange. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Department of Public Works, was directed by A. Dagot, with the assistance of S. Navon (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology) and M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (drawing).
Two excavation areas (c. 25 × 60 m) were opened 45 m apart, near the eastern boundary of the local cemetery; eight squares and two half squares were excavated. Surface was covered with numerous potsherds and most of the finds and the architectural remains were exposed in a layer of clayey soil that extended from surface to a depth of 0.4 m.
. Squares K3–5 (Fig. 1) were opened in the northern part of the excavation area, on the northern slope of a natural hill, c. 150 m from its peak. A wall, oriented east–west (W107; length at least 15 m, width 0.5 m, preserved height 0.3 m) was exposed. It was mostly built of two rows of light colored kurkar fieldstones and large ashlar stones (average size 0.3 × 0.4 m). The fill on either side of the wall contained a large quantity of pottery fragments from the Byzantine period.
Parallel to and 0.15 m north of the wall, an irrigation channel of modern cement that sloped to the west, was exposed. The channel watered an orchard in the area and was used until the 1950s (L106; width 0.3 m, depth 0.15 m). The fill in the channel contained a small amount of late Islamic pottery. The proximity of the channel to the wall and their corresponding change of direction may indicate that they were built as a single unit and the Byzantine pottery, collected in the fill flanking the wall, was swept from the hilltop. Nonetheless, it is possible that the wall was originally built as a terrace wall in the Byzantine period and the builders of the channel made secondary use of it.
. A jar dating to Middle Bronze Age II was discovered on surface in the middle of Square B5 (Fig. 2). To the south of the jar were fragments of sheep bones and teeth in articulation, indicating a primary burial. Fragments of Middle Bronze Age jars, including two bases one inside the other (Fig. 3), were discovered on surface in the northwestern corner of Square B4. Tiny bone fragments were found between the bases, which may have been the remains of a burial.
The results of the excavation point to a new archaeological site that had previously been unknown. The overwhelming majority of the recovered potsherds were fragments of Gaza jars of the southern type, which was widespread in the area north of Ashqelon during the Byzantine period.