During June–July 2009, two salvage excavations were conducted in the Zippor compound in Modi‘in (Permit Nos. A-5694, A-5703; map ref. 200713–864/646850–7111), prior to construction. The excavations, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Meshulam Levinstein Engineering and Construction Company, Ltd. (A-5694) and the Peretz Boney Ha-Negev Company (A-5703), were directed by R. Toueg, with the assistance of A. Hajian, M. Kunin and T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography) and N. Zak and B. Ekonim (final plans).
The excavation areas were located in the cultivated regions of the Khirbat Abu Fureij site. They were characterized by bedrock outcrops separated by terra rossa soil. Farming terraces and numerous stone clearance heaps are visible in the region. The two excavations were conducted along a spur and three stone clearance heaps, cupmarks and seventeen farming terraces (Fig. 1) were exposed.
Numerous excavations and a survey had previously been carried out at the site (HA-ESI 110:50*–51*; 114: 60*; HA-ESI 117, HA-ESI 117, HA-ESI 117; HA-ESI 122; HA-ESI122; Permit No. A-4876); cisterns, winepresses, rock-hewn agricultural installations, limekilns, cupmarks, watchman’s huts, farming terraces, dams, stone clearance heaps, field walls, tombs, a cave dwelling that was adapted for use as a charcoal kiln, a road and a quarry were recorded and exposed.
Stone Clearance Heaps. Three stone clearance heaps (L1, L2, L5) were excavated. The stones were piled on uneven bedrock surfaces. Several body fragments of a pottery vessel that dated to the Hellenistic period were discovered in the excavation of Heap 2 (Fig. 2).
Cupmarks. Two adjacent hewn cupmarks (L3; Fig. 3) were discovered in a bedrock surface east of Heap 1; one was large (diam. 0.4 m, depth 0.17 m), with a small deeper depression hewn in its center, and the other was small (diam. 0.1 m). Northeast of the cupmarks was another cupmark (L4; diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.2 m; Fig. 4) hewn at the end of a large boulder.
Farming Terraces. A long terrace wall (W100; Fig. 5), which extended beyond the limits of the excavation area, was excavated at the top of the spur, in the middle of an area where a considerable amount of alluvium and few rocks are visible, northeast of Heap 2. Another part of the terrace was excavated in the past (HA-ESI 122). No finds were discovered in the terrace excavation (L6). Another short farming terrace wall (W101) was excavated c. 1 m southwest of Heap 5. The excavation (L7) clarified that the wall was founded on bedrock and yielded no finds. On the eastern slope of the spur, fifteen farming terrace walls (W100–W109, W210–214) were excavated. The walls were mostly built of medium and large fieldstones, set on bedrock and preserved one–four courses high. In some places, the terrace walls were constructed upon a foundation course of small fieldstones that was used to level depressions in the bedrock. Eight of the terrace walls were generally oriented southeast-northwest, whereas two others (W107, W108) were generally aligned southwest-northeast. Some of the farming terrace walls were built at the end of a bedrock terrace (Fig. 6) and others were erected on sloping bedrock surfaces. Terrace Wall 210 is unusual. It was carefully built at the top of the slope of large fieldstones that were placed on two foundation courses, consisting of small fieldstones arranged in three parallel rows. The wall was aligned north–south and continued beyond the limits of the excavation.The southern part of the wall was covered with modern refuse and its northern part adjoined Terrace Wall 212. The back part of W210, which faced west, was also built of two rows of small fieldstones, similar to the stones in the wall’s foundation.It is unclear why the construction of W210 is different from that of the rest of the terrace walls. It may be that the farming terrace retained by W210 was large and it was therefore necessary to construct a more stable wall. Body fragments of pottery vessels that dated to the Hellenistic period were discovered in the excavation of four terrace walls (W103, W108, W109 and W210).
The large number of farming terraces shows the intensity of agriculture in the region. Agricultural installations and tombs from the Hellenistic period were discovered in excavations conducted nearby (Permit No. A-4876). It is possible that the meager amount of Hellenistic potsherds in the excavations indicate that the terrace walls were built in this period.