During January–February and July–August 2003 an excavation was conducted in the center of Abu Ghosh (Permit No. A-3811; map ref. NIG 21050/63490; OIG 16050/13490), prior to the construction of a commercial building. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by I. Zilberbod, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying) and T. Sagiv and C. Amit (photography).
The excavation area was located c. 15 m east of the Benedictine Monastery area where excavations took place in 1940–1941 by R. de Vaux and A.M. Stève (1950. Fouilles Qaryet el-‘Enab, Abu Gosh, Palestine. Paris). The area (20 × 20 m) revealed buildings with floors and walls from the Ottoman, Mamluk and Byzantine periods (Fig. 1).
The remains of only two walls, exposed below later walls and soil fills (thickness 0.7–1.1 m) that contained fragments of jars and roof tiles, were ascribed to this period. The meager remains could not be connected stratigraphically to Byzantine-period sites that had previously been exposed there.
Two construction phases were discerned in the buildings ascribed to this period. The remains of two buildings, in the northern part of the excavation and in its southeastern corner, were attributed to the early phase. The area between them seems to have been open as no construction remains were found. Part of a large building was discovered in the northern part of the area. It included a square hall (5 × 5 m) that was entirely exposed and had two rectangular rooms of similar dimensions (2 × 5 m) to its west. A plastered installation (0.6 × 4.5 m), whose walls incorporated architectural elements in secondary use, was built on top of some of the square hall’s walls and belonged to the later phase.
The recovered finds included fragments of pottery vessels and coins.
The Ottoman Period
Buildings from this period that evidenced two construction phases were discovered throughout the excavation area. The early construction phase consisted of a covered passage between the entire lengths of two exposed buildings. The ceiling of the passage was supported on two pairs of engaged pillars. The southeastern part of the building was surrounded by a narrow alley, which was enclosed within two walls that curved to the northeast (length c. 15 m, width 3.5 m). The construction area was expanded to the east in the later phase and the plan of the buildings was altered.
The finds included pottery vessels, lamps, pipes, coins, metal artifacts and glass bracelets.