During June–July 2003 a trial excavation was conducted along the eastern bank of the channel, descending from the Me Neftoah spring to the Arazim Valley (Permit No. A-3936*; map ref. NIG 2187/6338; OIG 1687/1338; Fig. 1), c. 250 m from the confluence of the channel with the Arazim Valley. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by R. Avner and Y. Mizrahi, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying) and Z. Greenhut (GPS).
Five squares were opened and three probe trenches were dug with the aid of mechanical equipment (Trenches C1, C2, C3; Fig. 2), which was also employed to deepen the excavation in L200. With the exception of two loci, no architectural remains were discovered. A section of a terrace wall whose date is unclear was discovered in L107 and a rock-hewn pit was uncovered in L201. The fill excavated in all the areas consisted of an upper gray layer (height 0.8–2.3 m), which yielded fragments of Ottoman-period pottery, such as Gaza ware and a lower terra rosa soil layer (height 0.2–1.2 m) that contained pottery fragments dating to the Second Temple period.
Three parallel terraces, oriented northeast–southwest (Tr1–Tr3; length of each section c. 3.4 m; Fig. 3), were found in a square opened on surface (L107) and extended beyond the square balks. Four courses of Terrace 1 (height 1.2 m, width 1.7 m), three courses of Terrace 2 (height 0.95 m, width 2.5 m) and four courses of Terrace 3 (height 0.95 m) were preserved. The terraces were built of different-sized fieldstones with soil among them.
The terra rosa fill east of Terrace 3 contained pottery fragments from the Second Temple period, whereas the gray soil fill to its west contained potsherds from the Ottoman period and fragments of glass vessels that are common to this period. Hence, it was not possible to date this terrace.
The southwestern corner of a rock-hewn pit (L202; length 1.2 m, width 0.58 m, depth 0.64 m) was discovered in L201 (Fig. 4). It was found sealed with a fill that included potsherds from the Second Temple period and it should be dated, at the latest, to this period.