Excavations on the bank of Nahal Be’er Sheva‘, conducted on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Israel Railways Authority, revealed a unique dwelling complex and ancient finds, dating to the end of the Kingdom of Judea and the Hellenistic period.
The dwellings are characterized by circular caves with domed ceilings dug into the loess soil and wadi conglomerate, and connected by subterranean corridors. The complexes contained cooking ovens that were built of clay coils and ash, as well as numerous finds, including ceramic lamps, jars, kraters, cooking pots, bowls and saucers, imported wine amphorae, animal bones and clay loom weights that were used in weaving.
Yigal Israel, the district archaeologist of Be’er Sheva‘ and the Northern Negev, says that this architectural style has been known from the Chalcolithic period and is found in Be’er Sheva‘ and the surrounding region. He adds that “the Beduins residing in the Be’er Sheva‘ Valley also adopted this architectural style and one can see complexes dug into the loess that have survived to this very day in the Arad and Be’er Sheva‘ Valleys”.
A survey conducted at the site determined that the first settlement should be dated to the end of the Kingdom of Judea, between 700–586 BCE. The archaeological evidence exposed at the site indicates that settlers returned in the 2nd century BCE, during the Hellenistic period, and a farmstead was built here during the Byzantine period. At the end of the Ottoman period, a farm house was erected at the eastern foot of the ruin and its remains are still there.
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