During December 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted west of Bet ‘Arif (Permit No. A-4964; map ref. 192657–66/656160–82), in the wake of potsherds and fieldstones exposure during an antiquities inspection of a trench, dug for a water line. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by O. Segal, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), L. Yihye (GPS), T. Sagiv (field photography), Z. Kanias (preliminary inspection), I. Berin (final plans) and M. Shuiskaya (find drawing).
An excavation square (6 × 6 m) was opened in an orchard located in a region of alluvial soil, c. 600 m south of the Nahal Bet ‘Arif site (Fig. 1). Part of a silo and a cluster of potsherds from the Chalcolithic period were exposed.
A burial cave that dated to the Chalcolithic period and contained a secondary burial from Middle Bronze II (Map of Lod , Site 91) had been documented in the past c. 1 km southeast of the excavation. A cemetery from the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age and settlement remains from the Early Bronze Age (HA-ESI 18:69–71; IAA Reports 27) were excavated c. 2 km northeast of the excavation, within the precincts of Shoham.
The center of the square was damaged by the dug trench (depth c. 3.5 m). Part of a silo (diam. 1.9 m, depth 0.8 m; Figs. 2, 3) was exposed in the northeastern part of the square, at a depth of 1.7 m below surface; the western part of the installation was severed by the trench. The floor of the silo consisted of small fieldstones that were placed directly on the ground. The upper part of the installation was built of medium-sized fieldstones and the bonding material was apparently made of mud bricks. It seems that the side of the silo was sealed with a thin layer of mud-brick material that did not survive. The silo contained a large amount of animal bones and potsherds from the Late Chalcolithic period (Ghassulian culture), including bowls (Fig. 4:1–9) and holemouth jars (Fig. 4:10–12). An elliptical sling stone (Fig. 4:13) discovered outside the silo was dated to the Early Chalcolithic period; it is characteristic of the Wadi Rabah culture and is known from ‘Ain el-Jarba, Kabri and Jericho. A cluster of potsherds from the Late Chalcolithic period was unearthed in the southwestern part of the square.
It seems that the silo was part of a settlement that dated to the Late Chalcolithic period, whose remains are concealed below layers of alluvial soil. Mostly tombs of the Chalcolithic period are known in the vicinity and one may assume that the remains of contemporary settlements are hidden under layers of sediments that characterize this agricultural region. The sling stone may possibly allude to remains that date to the early phase of the Chalcolithic period at the site or nearby.