In March 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted at the Holy Land Park in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-4421, map ref. 2180–5/6295–7; Fig. 1), after caves were damaged during construction work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Holy Land Park Company, was directed by A. Eirikh-Rose (photography), with the assistance of R. Abu Halaf (administration), T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting) and C. Hersch (pottery drawing).
Two natural caves (I, II; Figs. 2, 3) were excavated in a valley running west of the hill where the Holy Land Hotel used to be. Scant evidence of habitation phases dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age, the Middle Bronze Age and the Late Bronze or Iron Age was found in the caves. Previous excavations conducted nearby unearthed a cemetery from the Intermediate and Middle Bronze Age and settlement remains and tombs from the Second Temple period (Negbi and Nahmani 1964
; Ben Arieh 2000
; Milevski and Ben-Or 2007
; Milevski, Greenhut and Agha 2008
; Permit No. A-5422).
Cave I (preserved dimensions 2.5 × 5.0 m, height 1.5 m; Fig. 4). Mechanical equipment damaged the western part of the cave, apparently where the opening was. The outline of the cave was circular, and two habitation phases were discovered inside it. The later, upper phase included a layer of terra rossa soil containing numerous pottery sherds, animal bones and ash, and a partition built of stone slabs placed on their narrow side; only two of the partition’s stones were preserved. The partition abuts the southern, rear wall of the cave (Fig. 5). The ceramic artifacts from this phase date to the Middle Bronze Age and include jar rims (Fig. 6:1–3) and bases (Fig. 6:4, 5). The early, lower phase was discovered beneath terra rossa soil. It included a layer of gray soil that contained a large amount of charcoal and a number of pottery sherds. The gray soil was deposited directly on the bedrock, which probably served as a floor. The ceramic finds from this phase date to the Intermediate Bronze Age and include several body fragments decorated with combing. The ash and charcoal discovered in both of the habitation phases were the remains of hearths, suggesting that in both phases the cave was used for dwelling.
was completely destroyed; it seems that it too was originally circular. A layer of terra rossa found in the cave contained numerous pottery sherds, mainly fragments of storage vessels, probably collared-rim jars (Fig. 6:6–9). Similar jars were unearthed in excavations in the nearby neighborhood of Manah
at, where they were dated to the Late Bronze Age (Edelstein 1998
). In excavations previously conducted in the Giloh neighborhood of Jerusalem, similar jars were dated to the Iron Age I (Mazar 1981
It seems that the caves discovered in the excavation were used as dwellings, possibly by shepherds, over the course of several periods. They probably belong to a series of cave dwellings and burial caves, several of which were discovered in the Holy Land Park in the past. The collared-rim jars found in Cave II are apparently related to the jars of this type that were found at nearby Manahat.
Ben Arieh S. 2000. Salvage Excavations Near the Holyland Hotel, Jerusalem. ‘Atiqot
Edelstein G. 1998. The Pottery Assemblage. In G. Edelstein, I. Milevski and S. Aurant eds. Villages, Terraces and Stone Mounds: Excavations at Manahat, Jerusalem, 1987–1989 (The Rephaim Valley Project) (IAA Reports 3). Jerusalem. Pp. 37–60.
Mazar A. 1981. Giloh and Early Israelite Settlement Site near Jerusalem. IEJ
Milevski I. and Ben-Or K. 2007. Jerusalem, Holyland Park. HA-ESI 119
Milevski I., Greenhut, Z. and Agha N. 2008. A Cemetery in the Holyland Compound. In D. Amit and G.D. Stiebel eds. New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region: Collected Papers 2. Jerusalem. Pp. 73–87 (Hebrew).
Negbi O. and Nahmani S. 1964. Jerusalem, Israelite Tombs and a Survey in the Vicinity of Jerusalem. HA 10:12–13 (Hebrew).