During June–July 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Yattir Forest (Permit No. A-4514; map ref. NIG 1999/5849; OIG 1499/0849), along the route of the separation fence. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by M. Haiman, with the participation of A. Freiberg (area supervision) and A. Hajian (surveying).
Three areas were excavated in the wadi and along its eastern and western slopes.
The Eastern Slope
An agricultural area (100 × 250 m) is located on the eastern slope. It is surrounded by a stone fence (length 30 m, width 1 m) and includes dozens of farming terraces, stone clearance heaps and caves. On the upper part of the slope, beyond the limits of the excavation, a field tower (4.5 × 4. 5 m) was documented. Five shallow farming terraces (height c. 0.5 m) were excavated; their walls were founded on bedrock and their fill consisted of tamped soil and small stones: Farming Terrace 106 (0.6 × 1.0 × 8.0 m; Fig. 1); Farming Terrace 108 (0.6 × 0.8 × 8.0 m; Figs. 2, 3); Farming Terrace 110 (length 3.5 m, width 0.5 m; Figs. 4, 5); Farming Terrace 113 (length 7 m; Figs. 6, 7) and Farming Terrace W114 (length 8 m; Figs. 8, 9).
A probe within the stone clearance heap (L109; 0.6 × 3.0 × 8.0 m; Fig. 10) revealed that the heap comprised a mixture of small stones and soil. Similar heaps occurred in the precincts of cultivation plots.
A rock-cutting (L105; diam. c. 2 m, depth c. 1 m; Figs. 11, 12) was hewn in the center of a nari bedrock surface (15 × 20 m). It seems that bedrock surfaces with rock-cuttings in their centers were located in agricultural areas and meant for planting trees.
A natural cave (L107) that had no signs of usage was discovered during earthmoving works.
Burial Cave (L111; Fig. 13). The inside of the cave (1.5 × 3.0 × 4.0 m) was enlarged for later use. A corridor (2 × 5 m) in the front of the cave led to an opening whose upper part was arched (1.0 × 1.4 m). A probe excavated inside the cave revealed organic material (thickness 0.2 m) that contained fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period on the bedrock floor.
The opening of another natural cave was made narrower by a stone wall (L112; 3.5 × 4.5 × 2.2 m). A probe that was excavated inside the cave exposed a thin layer of organic material on the bedrock floor.
Sixteen farming terraces were found in the agricultural area of the wadi, which was 450 m long; two terraces were excavated.
Farming Terrace 100 (length 10 m, width 1 m. height 2.2 m; Figs. 14, 15) was built of fieldstones (0.5–0.9 m); its upper part was retained on the slope with a tamped fill of small stones and its center was found breached.
Farming Terrace 101 (length 11 m; Figs. 16, 17) was built of a single row of stones and was supported on the side facing the slope by a tamped fill of small stones.
The Western Slope
The western slope was covered with stone walls and a probe was excavated in one of them. The wall (W104; height c. 0.4 m; Fig. 18) was built of a single row of stones.
The exposed agricultural area was essentially composed of a dammed wadi and delimited slopes. Shallow farming terraces that did not contain soil sufficiently deep for growing trees or grain were found in the delimited plots. In light of the frequency of large winepresses in the region it seems that the terraces were probably used for growing grapevines. Considering the pottery finds from the Byzantine period and the fact that the field tower located alongside the agricultural area, the likes of which were dated to the fifth–sixth centuries CE, it seems that the agricultural complex should also be dated to this period.