In November 2018, a salvage excavation was carried out at Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-8390; map ref. 197873–932/623293–382; Fig. 1) prior to construction of Neighborhood D1. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by M. Balila (photography) with the assistance of A. Wiegmann and S. Halevi (aerial photography and photogrammetry), H. Bitan (GIS), G. Shlimovich (preliminary examination during inspection), A. Shadman and Y. Zelinger (scientific assistance) and S. Gendler.
The excavation was carried out about 1 km south of Tel Yarmut, in an area that overlaps much of four sites documented in a comprehensive survey conducted prior to the development of Ramat Bet Shemesh (Dagan 2010: Sites 279, 284, 285). A few excavations have taken place near the current one, revealing a Second Temple-period farmstead (Eirikh-Rose 2017); agricultural installations, including winepresses, basins and a bodeda, as well as a segment of a road, all of unknown dates (Landes-Nagar 2015); and a limekiln that apparently operated in the Ottoman period (Tzur 2016).
The current excavation (Fig. 2) was opened following the discovery of two winepresses, a basin and a bodeda during development work with a mechanical tool. Only one of the winepresses—an industrial winepress (L100)—and the basin (L107) were excavated; the other winepress (L113) and the bodeda (L114) were only documented. The four rock-cut installations apparently produced wine and olive oil associated with agricultural activity in the area.
Industrial winepress (Figs. 3, 4). The winepress comprised a rectangular treading floor (L100; 4.2 × 4.7 m, depth 0.8 m) and two collecting vats (L102, L104); remains of plaster were found on the walls of the treading floor and of both collecting vats. The treading floor sloped moderately to the north, in the direction of the vats. The vats were similar in form, but the western vat was slightly larger (1.3 × 1.3 m, depth 1.7 m). A channel hewn in the upper part of the wall between the two vats connected them. An ovoid sump was installed in each vat (diam. 0.35 m, depth 0.14 m; Fig. 5). Two small rectangular grooves (0.15 × 0.18 m, depth 0.1 m; Fig. 6) were hewn in the western wall of Collecting Vat 104; these were apparently used to facilitate descent into the collecting vat.
Basin. About 50 m southwest of the winepress was a round, rock-cut basin (L107; diam. 1.3 m, depth 0.5 m; Fig. 7).
Winepress and bodeda. About 50 m south of the industrial winepress were a rock-cut winepress and a hewn bodeda. They were not excavated due to safety concerns, but they were documented by drone photography. The winepress (L113) featured a rectangular treading floor with rounded corners, and a rectangular collecting vat. Three channels led from the treading floor to the collecting vat. The bodeda (L114) comprised a rectangular pressing surface, which drained into a round basin cut into the northern end of the surface’s floor.
Dagan Y. 2010. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: The Gazetteer (IAA Reports 46). Jerusalem.
Eirikh-Rose A. 2017. Bet Shemesh, Ramat Bet Shemesh D1. HA-ESI 129.
Landes-Nagar A. 2015. Bet Shemesh, Ramat Bet Shemesh. HA-ESI 127.
Tzur Y. 2016. Bet Shemesh, Ramat Bet Shemesh, Neighborhood D1. HA-ESI 128.