During January 2011, a development survey was conducted along the western slopes of the Qiryat Ha-Yovel neighborhood in Jerusalem (License No. S-233/2011; map ref. 215900–6230/629703–30360), prior to the construction. The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Waxman-Govrin Engineering Company Ltd, was performed by L. Barda (GPS), assisted by A. Wigman and D. Levy.
The surveyed area extends along a terraced slope, descending east toward a valley that continues west of the Qiryat Ha-Yovel neighborhood (Fig. 1). The area had previously been surveyed within the Survey of Jerusalem (Kloner 2000, Survey of Jerusalem, Southern Sector, Map of Bet Lehem ). Sixty-one sites were surveyed; most of which are farming terraces, as well as buildings, hewn caves, stone heaps, quarries and various rock-cuttings. However, a hewn columbarium cave that was documented in the Survey of Jerusalem (Qiryat Ha-Yovel [West], Site 6) could not be re-located in the current survey.
The surveyed section of the slope is fairly steep and numerous farming terraces that follow the topography of the region were built on it, some on natural bedrock terraces (Figs. 1, 2). The farming terrace retaining walls, which were built of medium-sized fieldstones, are quite homogenous and seem to have been built during a single period, probably in the Late Ottoman period. Two buildings (6, 37) were surveyed. Building 6 was probably square or rectangular. It had survived by a wall, oriented north–south (length c. 4 m; Fig. 3) and carefully built of an outer row of dressed stones, mostly in secondary use, and a fill of fieldstones. Based on the construction style, it seems that the building was erected in the Ottoman period. A farming terrace was built as an extension of its eastern wall. All that remained of Building 37, which appears to be modern, is a corner of roughly hewn stones and fieldstones; its walls were mostly destroyed. On the bedrock terraces of the slope were three hewn caves (15, 22, 25; Fig. 4), in which evidence of modern use, probably by shepherds, was noted. Their openings are wide and round and in Cave 22, a niche was hewn in the far side, opposite the opening. The opening of another cave (43; a rock-hewn pit?); a pit, possibly natural, which was blocked with thick vegetation (51); and an oval pit in the bedrock, with a terrace built over it and pottery fragments from the Byzantine period nearby, were discerned. Four stone clearance heaps (5, 16, 33, 35), two of which (16, 35) may be the remains of watchman’s huts that were incorporated in farming terraces; two quarries (12, 29); in Quarry 12, severance channels of large building stones and a building stone that was not completely detached from the bedrock, were discerned (Fig. 5); a pit dug into the ground (27) next to Quarry 29, which may have been used as a limekiln, and vague rock-cuttings in the bedrock (13, 23; installation?), were documented.
Although the farming terraces are apparently modern, potsherds scattered on the surface indicated activity in earlier periods. These included finds from the Iron Age (scant) and the Byzantine period (most of the finds), and perhaps from the Roman period as well. In several places—particularly near Quarry 12, Caves 15 and 22 and Rock-cutting 23 and the terraces adjacent to these installations—a dense scattering of potsherds was found.