During April 2009, a survey was conducted southwest of and parallel to the road leading to the Hadassah ‘Ein Karem Medical Center (License No. S-75/2009; map ref. 21395–650/62930–3060), prior to laying the tracks for the light railway. The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was performed by D. Levi (field photography) and L. Barda (GPS).
The survey area extended across the northern and eastern spurs of Mount Ora and the valleys between them, across the upper parts of the northern spurs of Qiryat Menahem and across the saddles between Ora and Qiryat Menahem and Qiryat Menahem and Qiryat Yovel (Fig. 1). This is an open area of steep slopes, characterized by numerous farming terraces. The indigenous rock is hard limestone. On a precipitous slope in the western part of the area, which had been used for cultivation in the past, the Muscovite church compound that was built at the end of the nineteenth century CE is located.
Farming terraces, some of which are ancient, cairns and stone clearance heaps are spread out across most of the area. Remains of a round structure (Site 57), built of large fieldstones and abutted by a farming terrace, were documented near a square rock-cutting (Site 44) that was probably the courtyard of a burial cave. A dense scattering of potsherds from the Roman and Byzantine periods (Site 52) was located c. 300 m southeast of the church. A rock-hewn cave (Site 58; Fig. 2) to the southeast of this region consisted of a round chamber and an arched opening facing west.
On a slope in the south, north of Mount Ora, a rock-hewn cistern that had two openings (Site 8) and a long, high heap of small stones (Site 9; Fig. 3), similar to a cairn, which covered the remains of a building (watchman’s hut?), were recorded. The structure’s eastern wall was built of fieldstones and a window or a rectangular opening was incorporated in it; its southwestern corner was built of dressed stones (Fig. 4). Numerous potsherds, dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods, and probably the Iron Age as well, were scattered near a farming terrace (Site 26; Fig. 5).
Based on the potsherd scattering, it seems that the area was cultivated in the Roman and Byzantine periods and possibly in the Iron Age as well.