During July 2003 a salvage excavation was conducted at Bu‘eina on the northern slope of Mount Tur‘an (Permit No. A-3961*; map ref. NIG 2343–6/74550–7; OIG 1843–6/2455–7). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by L. Porat, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), H. Smithline (photography), E.J. Stern and D. Avshalom-Gorni (ceramic advice) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
Two excavation areas (A, B) were opened. Two half squares were excavated in Area A, revealing a natural cave, two water cisterns, and a hewn bedrock surface; a trench dug by a bulldozer south of the area was cleaned. A quarry and two walls built above it were exposed in Area B (3 × 4 m), c. 30 m north of Area A.
Area A (Fig. 1)
A natural cave (L13) in the southern part of the area was exposed, but only partially excavated. Potsherds dating to the Early Islamic period, mostly jar fragments, were recovered from the cave, which was apparently used as a dwelling. Two water cisterns hewn in the limestone bedrock were discovered in the northern part of the area. The smaller of the two (L12; diam. 1.35 m, height 1.4 m) was hewn above the larger cistern (L15; diam. 6 m, preserved height 2 m), which was only partly excavated; most of its ceiling had been damaged by the bulldozer. The cisterns contained potsherds dating to the Mamluk period, including numerous glazed bowls (Fig. 2:1–7), unglazed bowls (Fig. 2:8–10), a few cooking pots (Fig. 2:11) and jars (Fig. 2:12–14), as well as animal bones. A hewn bedrock surface (length c. 7.5 m) with a cupmark was discerned in the trench south of the area. This was probably a quarry or an agricultural work surface.
Area B (Figs. 3, 4)
A quarry hewn in the nari bedrock was discovered. A large stone that had not been detached from the surrounding bedrock (length 0.9 m, height 0.6 m) was discerned in the eastern part of the quarry. The stone, which had a large depression on top of it, was apparently intended as a weight in an olive press, but its quarrying was never completed. Two walls were constructed on top of the quarry in a later phase. One wall (W20) was built of medium fieldstones (0.3 × 0.4 m) and was preserved 0.23 m high. It supported a terrace, whose continuation was hewn. The second wall (W21; width 0.9 m) was built of large ashlar stones (0.45 × 0.60 m), one of which was set inside a recess at the bottom of the quarry, probably to level its floor. The ceramic finds in Area B were meager and included fragments of bowls from the Late Roman period (Fig. 2:15, 16) and a cooking-pot fragment from the Early Roman period (Fig. 2:17). Potsherds from the Byzantine period, which included a cooking-pot fragment (Fig. 2:18), were found in the soil fill overlying the remains in Area B.