During January 2006 a survey prior to development was conducted along the west bank of Nahal Zin (Permit No. A-4702*; map ref. NIG 2015–55/5260–83; OIG 1515–55/0260–83), prior to quarrying in the Zin mine. The survey, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Rotem-Amfert Negev Company, Ltd., was directed by O. Shmueli and Y. Haimi, with the assistance of S. Gal (GIS).
The survey area (200 × 3,000 m; Fig. 1) in the Valley of Zin, southwest of Har Zin, is adjacent to Mazok Ha-Zinnim. Most of the c. 40 documented sites were grouped in two clusters (A, B). Nahal Zin, one of the largest wadi channels in the Negev Highlands, had been a convenient route in the past and secondary roads ran through it. A main road, used during the Iron Age and the Roman period, passed c. 10 km north of the Valley of Zin and another primary road (Darb a-Sultan), used throughout the Early Islamic and Ottoman periods, was c. 7 km south of the valley.
The larger of the two clusters (A; c. 10 dunams) consisted of an animal pen and mostly small stone heaps (1 × 1 m, height c. 0.5 m), which were probably part of a burial field. Next to the wadi cliff, several larger stone heaps that may have been cairns (A1; Fig. 2) were noted; one of them (diam. 4 m), built of medium fieldstones (0.4 × 0.5 m), was preserved four courses high. Several buildings in the northern part of Cluster A consisted of a single elliptical room (1.5 × 2.0 m). A small temporary site was recorded in the eastern part of the cluster, along the edge of the wadi channel.
In the small cluster of sites (B) was a main building (B1) that comprised three elliptical units (5 × 10 m) and next to it was another building (B2) that included two elliptical units, a large (6 × 10 m) and a small (2 × 3 m) one. It seems that the entrance to Building B2 was set in the eastern side (Fig. 3). Near the main building were several small round structures (2.5 × 3.0 m), built of medium-sized fieldstones (0.5 × 0.5 m) and preserved a single course high; each of them had a single entrance. A courtyard enclosed by walls was noted next to one of the buildings. It is possible that remains of cairns were preserved in some of the buildings.
An installation in the southwestern part of the surveyed area was found (Site 1; 4 × 4 m; Fig. 4). It consisted of a large elliptical unit and a small cell adjacent to it, which were built of a single course of fieldstones, embedded in the ground. Similar installations were discovered in the Negev Highlands and some scholars ascribe them to the cultic activity of the nomads.
A cluster of round structures (Site 2; each 2 × 2 m; Fig. 5), which were built of medium-sized fieldstones and preserved a single course high, was recorded in the vicinity of Site 1.
Two temporary encampment sites were found in the survey area, one in Cluster A and the other at Site 3 (Fig. 6). They included a fieldstone-built animal pen, a surface that was cleared of stones and stone clearance heaps (0.3 × 2.0 × 3.0 m).
Most of the surveyed sites were located on a bedrock terrace next to Nahal Zin wadi channel, in an area that was sheltered from the wind. They are characteristic of the Negev Highlands region and it seems that they were used by nomads who moved along the secondary roads in the Valley of Zin.