Area 100 (Figs. 4, 5). A C-shaped courtyard of a rock-hewn burial cave was discovered. The northern part of the courtyard was covered with a bedrock ceiling. The opening of the cave (width 0.53 m, height 0.56 m) was hewn in the courtyard’s northern wall. Blocking the opening was a meticulously dressed, plug-shaped closure stone, found in situ (Figs. 6, 7). A gap between the opening and the closure stone was filled with several small stones. Another large stone (0.30 × 0.95 × 1.10 m; Fig. 8) rested on the closure stone, outside the opening. The bedrock wall around the opening of the cave was treated with light brown plaster in which there were several light gray lenses (Fig. 9). In a later phase, a wall oriented east–west was built across the width of the courtyard (Fig. 10), probably to protect the cave. A layer of small stones that had accumulated on the courtyard’s floor was overlain with light brown soil that filled the full height of the courtyard. The soil accumulation in the courtyard yielded fragments of jars and cooking pots dating to the end of the Second Temple period, as well as a large fragment of a bowl ascribed to the time of the First Temple. Apparently, the bedrock ceiling of the burial cave collapsed into it, completely filling it with earth; the cave itself was not excavated.
Area 200 (Fig. 11). A rectangular rock-cutting (L203; min. dimensions 3.10 × 4.68 m, depth c. 1.65 m; Fig. 12) was exposed, comprising three perpendicular bedrock walls in the north, west and east. The workmanship of the quarrying was haphazard; the northern wall was curvilinear whereas the other two walls were straight. Another hewn bedrock wall, oriented east–west, but situated at a lower level than the other three walls, was discovered on the southern side. The rock-cutting was blocked with accumulated soil; in the modern era, a wall running east–west (W151; Fig. 12) was built above it, and was preserved to a height of 1–3 courses. This rock-cutting may have been the courtyard of a burial cave whose opening was located north of the excavation area. An elliptical rock-cut shaft, discovered c. 2.8 m north of the rock-cutting, may have been part of the same burial cave. The shaft was located outside the limits of Area 200; hence, it was not excavated.
South of Rock-Cutting 203, on a lower level, a rock-hewn bell-shaped furnace (L204; diam. of base 1.8 m, depth 1.5 m; Fig. 13) was exposed. The southern portion of the furnace was damaged and it was not completely preserved. The bedrock wall of the furnace had been scorched by fire. Large quantities of ash, charcoal and several fragments of non-diagnostic pottery sherds were discovered in the furnace. A C14
analysis of a charcoal sample from the furnace that derives from a stalk or small branch was dated with a post-calibration probability of 90.6% to the years 205–90 BCE. This furnace may have been used to prepare plaster and cement for the construction of the low-level aqueduct. Scholars believe that the low-level aqueduct to Jerusalem was built during the Hasmonean period (Billig 1997
:76–79, 87–91), and if the furnace was indeed hewn for the construction of the aqueduct, then the C14
dating shows that the aqueduct was built during the first half of Alexander Jannaeus’ reign. Excavations conducted near the entry point of the low-level aqueduct into the Armon Ha-Naz
iv tunnel exposed a furnace of similar diameter (2 m). Although the pottery sherds discovered in that furnace date to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (Billig 1995
:85), it is possible that the plaster and cement prepared in it were used for the renovation and maintenance of the aqueduct.