In August 2014, a trial excavation was conducted at Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-7199; map ref. 197717–979/624262–458; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of Neighborhood D2. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Housing, was directed by M. Haber, with the assistance of M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), N. Nehama (administration) and A. Peretz (field photography).
The excavation was carried out c. 650 m northwest of Tel Yarmut, next to an excavation where a large quantity of Early Bronze Age pottery was found (Permit No. A-7185). The region has been extensively surveyed (Dagan 1995
; Dagan 2010
; Dagan 2011
; Nagorsky 2010).
Caves and agricultural installations, such as cupmarks, a winepress and the remains of a small building (possibly a field tower) were found, all of which are types that are well known from past surveys and archaeological excavations conducted in the area. No datable finds were discovered.
Caves. Two natural caves were cleared. A wall (W24; Fig. 2, 3) near the one of the caves’ opening was probably meant to prevent access to the cave. It was haphazardly built of a single row of fieldstones and stood to a height of one course.
Cupmarks. Three small adjacent cupmarks (diam. 0.15 m, depth c. 5 cm) hewn in a bedrock outcrop were exposed; they were probably used for crushing.
Field Wall. A section of a field wall (W26; length c. 7.5 m; Figs. 2, 4) built of a single row of unworked, medium-sized fieldstones was cleaned; it was preserved to a height of one course.
Winepress. A rock-hewn winepress was unearthed. The treading floor (L32, L33; 2.85 × 3.10 m; Figs. 5, 6) had small niches hewn in its northern and southern sides. A short rock-cut channel (0.15 × 0.28 m) extended from the treading floor to a small collecting vat (L30; 1.25 × 1.85 m) to its west. The original depth of the collecting vat was probably c. 1.1 m, but at some point, it was made deeper (L31; Fig. 7).
Remains of a Building (field tower?). All that remained of the structure (4.0 × 4.9 m, Figs. 8, 9) were four walls (W1–W4) built of large, sometimes worked fieldstones (max. dimensions 1 × 1 m) that survived to a height of a single course. The walls were constructed on a foundation of small stones (L5). The structure was entered from the east, via a narrow opening in W4.
Due to the lack of finds, the remains could not be dated. However, they should be regarded as part of the widespread ancient rural settlement in the area.
Dagan Y. 1995. Bet Shemesh and Nes Harim Maps, Survey. ESI 13:94–95.
Dagan Y. 2010. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: The Gazetteer (IAA Reports 46). Jerusalem.
Dagan Y. 2011. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: Landscapes of Settlement: From Paleolithic to the Ottoman Periods (IAA Reports 47). Jerusalem.
Nagorsky A. 2010. Bet Shemesh, Survey of the Ramat Bet Shemesh Area. HA-ESI 122.