During August 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted in the northern industrial zone of Or ‘Akiva (Permit No. A-5499; map ref. 192688–733/713851–80), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Zohar A.H.M. Plast (1996) Company Ltd., was directed by A. Masarwa (photography), with the assistance of the late S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), P. Gendelman (pottery reading) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
Three walls (W40–W42; Fig. 1), preserved five courses high and built of kurkar stones, were exposed in the current excavation. These apparently belonged to a water reservoir whose southwestern part extended beyond the limits of the excavation. The walls were set on foundations of small kurkar stones, packed with mortar. Walls 40 and 42 were built of ashlar stones (average dimensions 0.2´0.3´0.7 m); the three bottom courses of W41 were built of roughly hewn stones and the two upper courses consisted of ashlar stones. Ashlar pillars, designed to reinforce the structure, were built at set intervals along the exterior side of the walls; a large pillar was erected in each corner and smaller pillars were positioned along the walls. The interior surface of the walls was coated with two layers of thick pink plaster mixed with potsherds. The bottom of the installation (L401) was also coated with two thick layers of pink plaster that abutted the walls (Fig. 2). A probe section in the plaster floor (L404) revealed that the plaster covered a thick foundation, which was meant to prevent groundwater from percolating into the reservoir. This foundation consisted of a bottom layer of packed hamra, overlain with a surface of dressed kurkar that was topped with a layer of tamped plaster (thickness 0.3 m), into which small kurkar stones were embedded.
Two walls (W43, W44), built also of kurkar ashlar stones, extended eastward from W40 and the northeastern pillar; Wall 44, preserved five courses high, was founded on small kurkar stones packed in mortar. A floor (L402) of dressed kurkar stones extended between the two walls. It seems that the paved area was used as part of an installation that belonged to the water reservoir complex, but its purpose remains unclear as only its western end was exposed.
The ceramic finds recovered from the reservoir and its environs included bowls (Fig. 2:1–3), cooking pots (Fig. 2:4) and jars (Fig. 2:5–10), dating to the Byzantine period.