The slope of the spur on which Khirbat ‘Addasa is situated is shaped by a series of terrace walls supporting agricultural terraces. These served for growing crops, such as wheat and barley, fruit trees, such as olive and almond trees, and grapevines. Some of the terraces are still tended today.
The ruin was surveyed in the nineteenth century (Guérin 1869:5–6; Conder and Kitchener 1883:105–106), again in the late 1960s as part of the survey of the Hill Country of Benjamin (Kallai 1972:184, Site 129), and most recently as part of the Survey of Jerusalem (Kloner 2001:13–14, Sites 1–4, and references cited therein). Among the ancient remains documented in the surveys are building foundations, caves, cisterns and reservoirs, rock-hewn channels and more.
This is the fifth excavation undertaken at Khirbat ‘Addasa. It was conducted c. 100 m northwest of the summit, which is surrounded by terraces (‘Adawi 2012; ‘Adawi 2013), burial caves (one of which was documented after it was plundered; Baruch and Ganor 2008), a variety of rock-cuttings and numerous underground cavities (Monnickendam-Giv‘on 2013a;Monnickendam-Giv‘on 2013b). Building remains ascribed to the Middle Bronze Age II were excavated c. 400 m southwest of the summit (Greenhut and ‘Adawi 2010).
The current excavation was conducted along the route of a recently constructed modern road near the summit, on the slope (c. 785 m asl) descending north, toward Nahal ‘Atarot. Three squares (more than 75 sq m; Fig. 2) were opened, exposing the inner face of a terrace wall along with several field walls, a cistern and an adjacent cavity, and a well-constructed wall that was probably part of a building. Two of the squares were opened on a terrace, perpendicular to the retaining wall (W1) that supported the terrace. A third square was opened c. 7 m to the southeast of a bedrock surface in which a plastered cistern was hewn.
Northern Square. The square was delimited by a terrace wall that protruded above the surface (W1). The excavation exposed the southern face of the wall, as well as two field walls to its south (W2, W3; Fig. 3) and rock-cut bedrock surfaces on either side of W3. Two coins, one dating to the Hasmonean period (IAA 144572) and the other to the Roman period (67/8 CE; IAA 144571), were discovered in the alluvium that covered the remains.
Wall 1 (max. preserved height 1.8 m, length c. 50 m) was built of two rows of fieldstones (width c. 1.5 m). The northern row protruded above the surface and was constructed of medium and large stones (0.3–0.4 × 0.6–0.8 m), while the southern row, which was exposed in the excavation, was built of small stones (0.1–0.3 m). Field Walls 2 and 3 were revealed c. 1 m below the surface; they ran parallel to W1 but at a lower level. Wall 2 was built of two rows of fieldstones; only one course was preserved. The northern row (preserved length c. 3.5 m) was built of large stones (c. 0.7 × 0.8 m). Its western continuation did not survive, possibly because it was robbed in a later phase. The southern row was constructed of small and medium-sized stones and was preserved across the entire length of the square (c. 5 m). A probe in the missing part of the wall yielded ceramic finds that included two jars dating from the Late Hellenistic period (Fig. 4:3, 6). The wall was founded on a level of alluvium mixed with coarse quarry debris (L105, L106) that probably originated in the rock-cutting on the bedrock to the south (below). The nature and function of the wall are unclear, but on judging by the stones in its northern face it was probably the foundation of an ancient terrace wall, similar to W1. Alternatively, it might have been the foundation of a wall in a settlement that has yet to be found, and it is possible that the remains discovered to the south (see below) were part of this settlement as well.
Wall 3 was built of one row of fieldstones (length c. 5 m); only fragments of this wall were preserved, and these to a height of only one course. It was constructed directly above a stepped bedrock surface with vertical quarry lines—part of the quarry that was exposed in the square directly to the sough (Middle Square, below). The nature and function of this wall are also unclear. The excavation between Walls 2 and 3 unearthed alluvium mixed with coarse quarry debris (L105, L106) that reached down to the bedrock. Wall 3 is dated to the Early Roman period on the basis of pottery that was found alongside it and includes a cooking pot (Fig. 4:8), a casserole (Fig. 4:9) and jars (Fig. 4:11, 12).
Middle Square. The square adjacent to the northern square yielded two wall sections (W4—preserved length 2 m; W5—preserved length 1.3 m; Fig. 5) built of one row of fieldstones and preserved to a height of one course. These wall sections delimited the northern edge of a tamped surface built of small fieldstones (L202), which was partially exposed. The pottery finds in the soil covering this level included a jar ascribed to the Late Hellenistic period (Fig. 4:4) and an amphora from the Early Roman period (Fig. 4:10). A coin of the governor who served during the reign of the emperor Claudius (54 CE, Jerusalem mint; IAA 144573) was also found in this level. Two boulders separated by a severance channel—part of a quarry that continued into the northern square—were exposed to the north of the walls. The pottery in the quarry debris near the quarry lines (L203, L204) included a jar from the Late Hellenistic period (Fig. 4:5). It can therefore be assumed that the quarry functioned during this period and that Field Walls 2 and 3 were built after it was no longer in use, probably in the Early Roman period.
Southern Square. The square was opened c. 7 m to the south of the middle square, exposing remains of a bedrock surface in which a cistern was hewn and a second bedrock surface to its east (Fig. 6). The cistern was connected to an elliptical chamber; a well-constructed wall was ran alongside them. Near the entrance to the cistern was a hewn channel (width 0.2 m, depth 0.1 m) that conveyed rainwater into the cistern from farther upslope to the south and west. Pottery sherds, including a jar from the Late Hellenistic period (Fig. 4:7), were discovered in the alluvium that covered the bedrock and the channel. These artifacts probably originated on the slope to the south.
The cistern had a round aperture (diam. 0.75 m, depth 0.4 m) that opened into an almost circular space (diam. 3.0–3.2 m, depth 1.6 m). The bedrock along the southern wall at the bottom of the cistern was fashioned into a ledge or step (Fig. 7). The cistern’s walls, its leveled floor and the bedrock ledge were treated with gray plaster (thickness c. 0.5 cm) composed of fine marl mixed with ash. The cistern was filled with alluvium (L301, L303), in which fragments of two bowls (Fig. 4:13, 14) and three jars (Fig. 4:15–17) from the Crusader/Ayyubid period were discovered, suggesting that the cistern was in use during this period.
Another elliptical space (L306; diam. 1.2 m, depth 1.2 m) was discovered to the east of the cistern. It was entered by way of an opening (height c. 0.5 m, width 0.4 m) breached in the bottom part of the cistern’s eastern wall (c. 0.4 m above the cistern’s floor; Fig. 8). The space had another rectangular opening (c. 0.55 × 0.80 m) fixed in its ceiling. The nature and function of this space are unclear.
The southern part of the bedrock surface was level and quite smooth. It carried a wall (W6) built of two rows of fieldstones (width c. 0.7 m, height 0.45 m, preserved length c. 2.5 m). The wall probably delimited the architectural unit of which the cistern was part. A cooking pot and a jar from the Late Hellenistic period (Fig. 4:1, 2) were found in the soil accumulation to the east of the cistern and of W6.
The remains discovered in the excavation were part of an agricultural complex consisting a cistern and field walls which shaped the slopes around Khirbat ‘Addasa. Judging by the ceramic finds in the three squares, the field walls were probably constructed in the Early Roman period. This activity was preceded by quarrying of building stones in the Late Hellenistic period. The ceramic finds from inside the cistern suggest that human activity at the site was renewed in the Crusader/Ayyubid period.