During July 2004 a trial excavation was conducted along a group of farming terraces in a wadibed of a tributary of Nahal Zin, 1 km north of Mizpe Ramon (Permit No. A-4171*; map ref. NIG 1804/5061; OIG 1304/0061). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Drainage Authority, was directed by M. Haiman, with the participation of pupils from the Yeshiva Environmental High School in Mizpe Ramon. The work was part of a project that conserves and prepares the ancient agricultural systems for contemporary use.
The site had been surveyed in the past by S. Rosen within the Emergency Survey of the Negev (Survey Map 201, in preparation). The group of terraces is located at the confluence of two wadis. About 20 terraces were checked over a distance of 600 m in one wadi and 12 terraces were examined over 300 m in the other.
The terraces were part of a system of wadis, dammed with farming terraces and spread across Mishor Ha-Ruhot, in wadibeds of tributaries of Nahal Zin and Nahal Nissana and along the northern cliff of the Ramon Crater. The examined twenty walls, built across the wadi channel (length 120 m, width 0.8 m) to a height of one or two courses, consisted of large stones with small stones and earth fill among them. The walls were erected in those wadibeds where arable loess existed, aiming to level the natural wadi channel, prepare it for cultivation and evenly distribute the flood water, which was the basis for agriculture in the region.
A circular building (diam. 10 m) had previously been surveyed in the northeastern part of the terrace group. The structure was built of large stones and surrounded by potsherds from the Early Islamic period (seventh–eighth centuries CE). Potsherds from this period, to which the farming terraces are attributed, were found scattered throughout the area. It should be noted that farmhouses, dating only to the Early Islamic period, were surveyed in the region of Mishor Ha-Ruhot, adjacent to dammed wadis of the kind that was excavated here (Haiman, Map of Mtzpe Ramon Southwest , 1991:20–21).