During January–February 2004 a trial excavation was conducted at El‘ad (Mazor East; Permit No. A-4085*; map ref. NIG 2124–6/6464–6; OIG 1624–6/1464–6), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the Baran Project Management Company Ltd., was directed by A. ‘Azab, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), L. Yihye-Levi (GPS surveying), K. Sari, M. Masarwa and E. Yannai.
Four half squares (2.5 × 5.0 m) were opened in the courtyard of a natural cave, south of the entrance, where the remains of two limekilns and a terrace wall were discovered (Fig. 1). No datable artifacts were found in the excavation. Nearby, a trial excavation had previously been conducted (HA-ESI 117
The two limekilns, one early and the other late, were built one within the other. The early kiln, in the center of the courtyard, had survived by a curved wall (W15) that was supported by the eastern bedrock side of the cave. The wall comprised large stones (c. 0.3 × 0.4 m) and was preserved two courses high. Some of the stones, mostly on the southern side, were cracked as a result of the heat from the kiln. A later repair of small stones (W16) was discerned in the western side of W15 and it therefore appears that this kiln had at least two phases of operation. Another wall (W5) was exposed east of W15 and preserved a single course high. It seems to have served as a retaining wall for the kiln, based on its construction. It is also possible that W5 was used to seal openings in the northeastern side of the cave, which were not apparent because of its collapsed ceiling.
After the early kiln was no longer in use, another slightly smaller limekiln (diam. 3.5 m; Fig. 2) was built within it. The curved wall of the later kiln (W11) was preserved 2.2 m high and was built of medium-sized dressed stones (0.25 × 0.35 m), set on bedrock. The northern part of W11 was supported by W15 of the early kiln and the gap between these two walls (width 0.3 m) was filled with stones. Signs of burning were discerned on the walls of the kiln and a deposit of ash and charcoal (L124; thickness 0.3 m) was discovered at the bottom of the installation.