During May 2011, an archaeological survey was conducted north of Lehavim, in the region of Nahal Gerar and Nahal Tilla (License No. S-266/2011; map ref. 17970–8400/58695–885), prior to planting. The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Jewish National Fund, was performed by F. Sonntag, with the assistance of N.S. Paran (survey) and S. Gal (GPS).
The survey region is characterized by gentle hills and shallow stream channels covered with clayey alluvium. The area was disturbed by extensive cultivation in the modern era.
The survey was performed in several non-contiguous sections. Five sites (1–5; Fig. 1) were found, mostly on the borders of the survey area.
1. Farm (central map ref. 18373/58708). A farmhouse (20 × 30 m; Fig. 2), consisting of several rooms, preserved 0.7 m high, with enclosed spaces between them. Potsherds dating to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods were discerned on the surface.
2. Watchman’s hut/dovecote (central map ref. 18369/58712). A circular structure (diam. 4 m, preserved height 0.4 m) with no datable finds; however, it may have been connected to the nearby farm in Site 1.
3. Watchman’s hut (central map ref. 18250/58809). A structure (2.6 × 3.5 m, preserved height 0.8 m; Fig. 3) and a courtyard (4.7 × 5.5 m, preserved height 0.4 m) adjoining it to the north. The site was excavated by A. Freiberg (Permit No. A-6042).
4. Watchman’s hut (central map ref. 18085/58787). A square structure (4 × 4 m, preserved height 0.4 m). Potsherds dating to the Ottoman period were collected from the building’s environs.
5. Watchman’s hut (central map ref. 18344/58716). A square structure (3 × 3 m, preserved height 0.5 m; Fig. 4). Potsherds dating to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods were collected from the building’s environs.
The surveyed sites were part of the agricultural complex of the northern Negev in the Byzantine–Early Islamic periods and parts of it continued to be used by residents of the area until the Late Ottoman period.