First Phase. Six rooms were unearthed in a large building, whose walls were exposed right below the surface. The walls were built of one face of fieldstones and roughly hewn stones that were arranged as ‘headers’ (average width 0.8 m), which on the most part had a second face: a row of small and medium-sized fieldstones. The walls were founded on bedrock; the area between them was leveled, and a bedding of soil and fieldstones (L122, L131) was placed on the bedrock. The fills in the southeastern part of the excavation area were excavated down to bedrock, yielding several pottery sherds dating to the second century BCE (early Hasmonean period), including a cooking pot (Fig. 3:1) and a jar (Fig. 3:2). The main entrance to the building was probably from the west, and it led to a corridor bounded by walls on the north (W110) and south (W107). The eastern part of the corridor was paved with flagstones and small fieldstones (L116). Two small rooms to the north were reached by way of the corridor: a western room (L109), which was partially exposed, and an eastern room (L110, L122; c. 10 sq m; Fig. 4). The eastern end of the corridor led to a large room delimited by four walls (W100, W102, W103, W110; 35 sq m; Fig. 5), which was only partly excavated. A stone basin placed on a floor of fieldstones and pebbles (L126) was located in the northeastern corner. The size of the room and the stone basin suggest that it was an inner courtyard. The corners of two other rooms were excavated east and southwest of the inner courtyard. The eastern room comprised the top of a wall (W112) that abutted the southeastern corner of the courtyard and a crushed-chalk floor (L134; Fig. 6). The southwestern room comprised a wall (W106) with an entrance threshold and two sockets in it that abutted W100 and formed a corner with W107, and a floor made of tamped earth and pebbles (L120) founded on a terra rossa fill above the bedrock. South of the building was a thick level of light-colored soil mixed with crushed chalk, small fieldstones and pebbles (L114, L130), where household chores probably took place.
A coin of John Hyrcanus(?) minted in Jerusalem in 129–105 BCE (IAA 140949) was found below Floor 120. The ceramic finds from this phase date to the Hasmonean period (first half of the first century BCE). They include a small bowl (Fig. 3:3), a cooking pot (Fig. 3:4), jars (Fig. 3:5–8), jugs (Fig. 3:9, 10), a juglet (Fig. 3:11) and an intact lamp that was found on the bedrock (Fig. 3:12). The coin and pottery seem to indicate that the building was constructed late in the Hasmonean period.
Second Phase. A new wing was added to the building on the southeast, as indicated by two walls (W105, W108) that cut through the levels of the first phase. Wall 105 was built of large, roughly hewn stones placed on the bedrock and preserved two courses high. Wall 108 consisted of a single row of large, roughly hewn stones founded on a soil fill and preserved one course high. The wall, running adjacent to W102, was built in a technique different than that of the rest of the walls in the building, suggesting that it served as a foundation for a roof that covered the new wing. The two walls cut through Level 114/130 of the first phase, and are dated on the basis of pottery sherds recovered from the foundation trench of W105 to the Early Roman period (first century BCE – first century CE). These include a cooking pot (Fig. 7:1) and a jar (Fig. 7:2).
The second phase ended with the northeastern part of Stone Pavement 116 and the eastern part of W110 collapsing, the latter at an acute angle, probably into an underground cavity (L133; Fig. 8). In the soil fills that covered this collapse were two jar fragments, one from the first century BCE – first century CE (Fig. 7:3) and the other from the first–second centuries CE (Fig. 7:4); a fragment of a disc base of a bowl made of soft limestone, characteristic of Jewish stone vessels from the Second Temple period (Fig. 9:1); and an elliptical grinding stone with one side smooth from use (Fig. 9:2), made of soft limestone as well.
Third Phase. After the building was abandoned, the area was leveled and most of the building stones were robbed. Collapse 133 was covered with a fill of small fieldstones (L121) that contained pottery sherds ranging in date from the Hellenistic period to the Byzantine period, including Roman jugs (Fig. 7:6, 7) as well as a rouletted bowl (Fig. 7:5) and a lamp decorated with red paint (Fig. 7:8), both from the Byzantine period. Two coins were discovered in the fill above the rooms of the building: one minted in ‘Akko during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes IV (173/2–168 BCE; IAA 140948); the other from Jerusalem, dating to the time of Pontius Pilate (31–32 CE; IAA 140947).
The architectural remains exposed in the excavation were part of a large residential structure, whose full extent remains unknown. The building was constructed during the Hasmonean period (first century BCE) and continued to be used in the Herodian period until the first century CE, when it was enlarged, probably to meet the needs of the owner’s growing family. The inhabitants’ Jewish faith is represented by fragments of stone vessels found in the soil fills above the floors: three measuring cups and a handle (Fig. 9:3), a bowl and a grinding stone. The building probably ceased to be used because of events related to the military campaign waged by Vespasian during the Great Revolt (66–70 CE). The geographic location of the building and its plan indicate this was a villa or farmhouse; five fragments of basalt pounding tools, a stone bowl (Fig. 9:4) and two lower millstones (Fig. 9:5, 6) found in the fill above the floors corroborate this claim. Agricultural installations previously surveyed and excavated in the vicinity, including a Hasmonean winepress that was excavated c. 150 m to the north (Finkielsztejn 2010), might be related to this building.
The Jewish rural settlement in the Early Roman period is characterized by villages and farmhouses, which generally had ritual baths inside structures or nearby them. One such example is a large estate inhabited from the Late Hellenistic period until 70 CE that was excavated at Kalandiya; it included a residential area, storerooms, wine- and oil-production installations and stone vessels (Magen 1984). Additional contemporary examples in the vicinity of Jerusalem are Khirbat Ka‘kul (Seligman 1995), Pisgat Ze’ev (Seligman 1995; Shukron and Savariego 1994) and Re‘ut/Modi‘in (Hizmi 1990). This settlement pattern changed after the Bar Kokhba revolt (130–135 CE), when the Jewish settlement concentrated in villages and cities, whereas the non-Jewish population resided in farmhouses (Hirschfeld 1997).