A salvage excavation was conducted in January 2001 at the Talmé Bilu Junction (A-3369
*; map ref. NIG 16562/59468; OIG 11562/09468), following damage to antiquities due to laying a cable line. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Zelin, assisted by V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying) and A. Dudin (drawing).
A single square that was damaged by a modern refuse pit in its western part was opened. A stone wall was discovered in the eastern part of the square and to its north was part of a circular pit dug into the ground. Ceramic finds, dating to the Byzantine and Mamluk periods, were recovered from the square.
The wall (preserved length 1.32 m, width 0.67 m) was oriented east–west and built of two rows of undressed kurkar blocks and wadi pebbles, with a core of small pieces of kurkar mixed with mud; it was preserved a single course high. Below the wall was a thin layer of mud that overlaid virgin soil. Next to the wall the bones of a small ruminant, as well as what may be those of a pig, were discovered, together with fragments of pottery vessels from the Mamluk period, such as a krater (Fig. 1:1), a red-slipped bowl outside and in (Fig. 1:2), a handmade cooking jug (Fig. 1:3), jars (Fig. 1:7–9) and a jug with a geometric decoration (Fig. 1:10).
The pit (1.3
× 3.0 m, depth 0.36 m) had a somewhat sloping wall that curved toward the bottom, upon which was a thin layer of crushed chalk (thickness 1 cm) that was apparently the floor. Burnt spots, the bones of a small ruminant and perhaps those of a pig were found on the floor, as well as fragments of a Gaza jar (Fig. 1:5) and a bag–shaped jar (Fig. 1:6) from the Byzantine period and a cooking pot handle (Fig. 1:4) and a jug rim (Fig. 1:11) from the Mamluk period. This may have been a small refuse pit. One meter to the west of the pit was another pit (3.45 × 3.45 m, depth 2.5 m) that was excavated for an electric pole and was devoid of ancient finds.