In November-December 2004 and the beginning of January 2005 a trial salvage excavation was conducted in preparation for the paving of Section 20 of the Cross Israel Highway. The excavation was directed by Pirhiya Nahshoni and Svetlana Tallis, with assistance from Emil Eljem.
Khirbet Umm el Baqar is a tell located on a hill north of Nahal Aduriyim where there are remains from the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Early Islamic and Ottoman periods. The excavation area is situated on the fringes of the eastern slope of the tell, descending toward a short tributary of Nahal Aduriyim. Two excavation areas were opened: Area A in the north and Area B in the south. No building remains were located in Area A. In Area B a number of buildings and courtyards dating to the Iron Age were discovered.
Area B
This area is located at the southeastern end of the site. Remains of at least two buildings were discovered here that date to the end of the Iron Age 1-the beginning of the Iron Age 2 (Buildings 1 and 2). Building 1 was exposed in the center of the excavated area; whereas Building 2 was located in the northern part.
Building 1
A section of the building was exposed consisting of one room only. The walls of the room were built of two rows of fieldstones with a core of small stones in between; they were founded partly on the natural bedrock and partly on soil fill mixed with small stones. A thin tamped earth floor built on the bedrock was exposed inside the room, below the stone collapse. Two massive and round stones that are partially dressed were found outside the room; they seem to be column bases. These and a few in situ masonry stones are probably indicative of other wall remains that were not preserved.
Building 2
Another building was discovered c. 10 m north of Building 1. This structure is situated on the slope that descends from west to east and measures 10 x 20 m. The building includes a paved courtyard (10) and three rooms (11, 12, 13). The walls of the building were built of two rows of fieldstones with a fill of small stones in between and were founded on soil fill deposited inside pockets in the bedrock. The building’s floors were on a fill of tamped earth deposited on top the bedrock or inside the pockets in the bedrock and the adjacent protruding rock was leveled and probably used as part of the floor.
Other remains that were discovered outside this building unit indicate its continuation to the north. They include a tamped earth floor, leveled bedrock that was probably used as part of the floor and a section of another wall that is built on soil fill deposited inside a bedrock pocket.
The pottery vessels that were found on the floors of the buildings are characteristic of 11th and 10th centuries BCE, that is, the latter part of the Iron Age 1 or the beginning of the Iron Age 2. The assemblage includes numerous chalices and goblets, possibly indicative of (domestic?) cultic activity. A multitude of storage jars that are characteristic of the period were also found.
The lithic objects include grinding and pounding tools, some of which are made of stone brought from afar (e.g. basalt).