During June 2007, a salvage excavation was conducted along the southwestern fringes of Khirbat Burnat (Permit No. A-5153; map ref. 195884–954/657419–65; Fig. 1), in the wake of probe trenches inspected by A. Nesher, prior to relocating a water pipe and paving a road. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Hevel Modi‘in Development Corporation, was directed by I. Korenfeld (photography), with the assistance of D. Porotzki(surveying), M. Shuiskaya (drawing of finds) and O. Raviv (stone laboratory).
Several sites were documented at Khirbat Burnat during a survey, carried out within the framework of the Israel Archaeological Survey. A settlement of five dunams was surveyed on the western slope of the hill and building remains were identified on four bedrock terraces, as well as a burial cave and an arcosolium cave sealed with a cover stone (Map of Lod , Site 64). Building remains that mostly belonged to a farmstead from the Persian period were identified in the southwest of the site; 200 m away from these, other building remains on a bedrock terrace and rock-hewn installations, were surveyed (Map of Lod , Site 66). An Early Bronze Age settlement, which comprised remains of walls, building complexes and terraced courtyards, was identified at the bottom of the hill’s eastern slope ((Map of Lod , Site 67).
Archaeological excavations conducted at Khirbat Burnat prior to the construction of an industrial zone have confirmed the importance of the site. A walled urban settlement from the Early Bronze Age was uncovered in excavations carried out by the Tel Aviv University (Y. Paz and S. Paz, Qadmoniot 134:82–88 [Hebrew]). A large rural settlement from the Hellenistic, Early Roman and Middle Roman periods, as well as an industrial region and an olive press from the Byzantine period were uncovered in another excavation (ESI 18:57–65). A consecutive excavation on the southwestern part of the tell (Permit No. A-4188) revealed a farmhouse dating to the Iron Age.
A plastered cistern dating to the Second Temple period was excavated on a rocky slope on the southwestern side of the tell. To facilitate the excavation of the cistern, its ceiling was dismantled and layers of modern debris were removed with the aid of a backhoe; a trench was excavated inside, down to the level of its floor (Fig. 2: Section 1-1).
The cistern (diam. 7 m, depth 5 m, volume c. 245 cu m; Fig. 2) is a karstic cavity, utilized for storing water.It was coated with a double layer of hydraulic plaster that sealed the karstic fissures (Fig. 3). The plaster did not survive in its entirety and the sides of the cistern were visibly eroded in several places, which may be the reason for suspending its usage.
Pottery vessels dating to the Early Roman period (first century BCE–first century CE) were found on the floor of the cistern, including jars (Fig. 4:1–6) and a fragment of a jug (Fig. 4:7), as well as a ribbed limestone cup (Figs. 5, 6) that is characteristic of the Jewish settlement in the latter part of the Second Temple period.
The finds discovered on the floor of the cistern indicate that it should be attributed to the Early Roman period. The dating connects the cistern to the rural settlement, which had previously been excavated at the site and was ascribed to this period. The cistern and other agricultural installations revealed nearby are probably part of working and farming areas that were located along the edges of the settlement, whereas its center was most likely situated at the top of the tell. The cistern ceased to be used at some point, probably at the end of the Early Roman period, because the plaster that sealed its sides had eroded.