During August 2004 a salvage excavation was conducted south and west of Hizma, along the route of the separation fence (Permit No. A-4239*; map ref. NIG 223852–4484/637250–8459; OIG 173852–4484/137250–8459). The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by O. Sion, with the assistance of T. Kornfeld (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), E. Belashov (drafting), E. Boaretto, Weizmann Institute (Carbon 14 analysis) and G. Solimany and L. Barda (preliminary survey).
Agricultural installations, winepresses, quarries, a limekiln and a cistern were exposed in four excavation areas (A, B and C to the north of Kh. Ras et Tawil and D to the east; Fig. 1). The installations date to the Hasmonean, Roman and Byzantine periods.
A limekiln (Figs. 2, 3; diam. 4.5 m; A. Kloner 2002, Survey of Jerusalem— The Northeastern Sector, Site 51) was excavated in Area A. The lower part was hewn in bedrock (dolomitic limestone) to a depth of 2 m. The kiln had a flue that entered in its lower part from the southeast (length 6 m, width and height of the flue on the outside 0.50 × 0.55 m; width and height of the flue on the inside 0.2 × 0.3 m). The smaller dimensions of the flue on the inside of the kiln compared with those of the flue's inlet created a draft to fan combustion inside the kiln. Different sized stone slabs were used to cover the flue. Piles of ash that had been cleaned from the kiln were found nearby. Based on Carbon 14 dating, the kiln activity is dated to the years 1800–1930 (64.3% probability).
A winepress and terrace wall were excavated in Area B. The winepress (Figs. 4, 5) was hewn in bedrock on the eastern slope of the wadi channel. A treading floor (2.4 × 2.6 m), settling pit (0.4 × 0.9 m, depth 0.4 m) and a collecting vat (0.65 × 1.10, depth 1.10 m) were all coated with white plaster. The treading floor was connected to the settling pit by an open channel and to the collecting vat by way of a through-hole (diam. 8 cm). A rock-hewn mortise (0.3 × 0.4 m) used to secure the beam was located in the southeastern side of the winepress. Recesses (depth 0.1–0.2 m) were hewn in the southeastern corner of the settling pit and the collecting vat. No datable finds were recovered from the installation. Based on the color of the plaster and its similarity to examples from the Hasmonean period the winepress can perhaps be dated to that period. A terrace wall was surveyed 30 m southwest of the winepress. The wall (length 6 m; Fig. 6) was parallel to the winepress; no indicative potsherds were recovered from the terrace.
In Area C three rectangular rock-cuttings (Fig. 7) and a cupmark (Fig. 8) were exposed. The rock-cuttings (Loci 15–17), whose purpose is unclear, were cut to different depths (0.55–1.60 m); these were probably preliminary soundings made for a quarry that was abandoned due to the friability of the bedrock. The cupmark (L14) was located 30 m south of the rock-cuttings. Next to it was a small shallow surface (0.75 × 0.90 m) that was probably used as a bodeda or a small winepress.
A cistern and rock-cuttings (Fig. 9) were cleaned in Area D. Next to the rock-cuttings was a wide bedrock surface (25 × 30 m) with natural depressions in it. Run-off was conveyed from the bedrock surface to the cistern (depth 3.5 m) by way of a hewn channel (length 5.5 m; depth 2–4 cm). Shepherds in the region currently use the cistern’s water for their flocks. Stone troughs were found next to the cistern. No datable material was recovered from the cleaning.
A winepress (Fig. 10; A. Kloner 2002, Survey of Jerusalem— The Northeastern Sector, Site 67) was surveyed c. 40 m north of the cistern. It had a rock-hewn treading floor (2.6 × 2.6 m, depth 0.65 m); niches and a collecting vat (0.90 × 0.95 m) were hewn in its southeastern side.
These agricultural installations were probably used from the Early Roman through the Byzantine periods.