The excavation was carried out in two areas (Areas A, B; Fig. 2). In Area A, a sequence of three phases of use was observed in and around a cave: a burial cave, a limekiln and a dwelling or storage cave. In addition, two winepresses were exposed, one (Winepress 1), characteristic of Iron Age II, the other a simple winepress (Winepress 2) . In Area B, a winepress (Winepress 3), characteristic of Iron Age II, was uncovered. Since only non-diagnostic potsherds were retrieved in both areas, the dating of the installations was based on their architectural features and on the relative stratigraphy.
Area A. A bedrock courtyard (L409; Fig. 3) led into a rock-hewn cave in which three arcosolia, arched recesses, and a small rock-hewn niche were visible (L403; Fig. 4). No diagnostic finds were retrieved, and the cave was probably robbed in antiquity. The arcosolia cave plan is characteristic of Byzantine-period burial caves. At some point after the burial cave ceased to function, a limekiln was built in front of its entrance. After the limekiln was abandoned, two parallel walls were constructed (W10, W11; Fig. 5) enclosing the area in front of the cave. The walls were evidently built after the kiln was abandoned, as they overlay a layer of light red soil containing lime fragments that had evidently been exposed to a high temperature and probably came from the center of the kiln. At this stage, the cave may have been used for storage or as a dwelling.
South of the cave, a winepress (Winepress 1) was uncovered. The square treading floor (L400; 2.5 × 2.5 m; Fig. 6) was an uneven rock surface whose natural cracks had been filled in with plaster. A small niche cut in the northeast wall of the floor was probably to install a beam, and a channel cut in the southwest wall led into a partially stone-built and partially rock-hewn collecting vat (L402). The collecting vat was apparently later and converted into a modern water cistern coated with gray cement. This winepress was probably a beam-and-weights press, a
technology generally ascribed to the Iron Age II period (see for example Arbel 2009
). The function of a rock-cut installation (L401) adjacent to Winepress 1 is unclear. Eight meters southeast of Winepress 1, a smaller, simple winepress (Winepress 2; Figs. 7, 8) with an irregularly shaped treading floor (L407; c. 1 × 2 m) and a small elliptical collecting vat (L406; c. 1 m diam. and depth) was exposed.
No diagnostic finds were retrieved in the winepresses.
Area B. Approximately 60 m south of Area A, a small rock-cut installation was excavated (Winepress 3; Figs. 9, 10). The press comprised a square treading floor (L800; c. 3 × 3 m) with a depression (0.2 × 0.4 m) at its southwest end, and a collecting vat to its west (L801; c. 1.6 m max. diam., 1.5 m deep). Two niches cut in the northern wall of the treading floor were probably to install a beam-and-weights pressing mechanism. Although no diagnostic finds were retrieved, Winepress 3 was possibly also dated to the Iron Age II, to the end of the First Temple period.
The features of Winepresses 1 and 3, especially the niches for the installation of a pressing beam, indicate that they may have been quarried during Iron Age II.
Numerous winepresses with rock-cut niches have been found in the hinterland surrounding ancient Jerusalem, for example, from Pisgat Ze’ev in the east (Kloner 2002:27), ‘En Lavan in the west (Baruch 2006), Ramot in the north (Permit No. S-388/2013) and Gilo in the south
:48). Significantly, at Nahal Zimra in Pisgat Ze‘ev, a winepress with similar niches cut in the treading-floor wall, was dated by pottery finds to Iron Age II (Meitlis 1988) .
The winepresses were probably part of the agricultural processing facilities of villages in the vicinity, possibly Kh. H
ammama to the east, or ‘En Kerem to the south.