The Building was constructed from stone (inner dimensions c. 3.5×4.5 m, wall thickness 0.70–0.85 m) and covered with a barrel vault. It had an entrance that faced east and two arched windows that faced west and south. Another entrance, set in the northern wall, led to a small inner space (inner dimensions 1.75×2.00 m). The building was used until recently and ancillary rooms built of concrete, which included a kitchen and a toilet, were added to it not long ago. A cistern was hewn southeast of the building, near the opening of the cave (Fig. 2).
The Cave. The almost square interior of the cave had probably been a natural cavity (c. 8×8 m; height above the bottom 3.5 m, Fig. 3). Remains of rock-cuttings, probably from several periods, were visible on the sides of the cave. In the northern side was a hewn groove or curved niche, whose upper part was arched and on the bottom part was a bench lined with a wall built of fieldstones (W2; height 0.6 m; Fig. 4). The southern part of the cave and part of the ceiling had been damaged by development work that preceded the excavation and therefore, the original entrance did not survive. A small opening in the form of a rectangular shaft (L103; 0.6×0.6 m, height 0.9 m; Fig. 5) was prepared in the cave’s ceiling and signs of modern construction are evident inside it. Alluvium containing modern material that indicates the last period of the cave’s usage was discovered in the interior; below it were two layers of friable rock and compacted quarrying debris (FI, FII; Fig. 6). No datable finds were discovered at the bottom of these layers; however, above the top layer (FI), which consisted of two levels, were potsherds from the end of the Ottoman period and the beginning of the British Mandate era (L101). In addition, a modern find that has a metal bolt was discovered (Fig. 7); this might possibly have belonged to the entrance door of the cave or could have been swept into the cave from outside. A pistol bullet was also discovered between the stones of W2 (Fig. 8). Potsherds from the Late Ottoman period and the beginning of the British Mandate era (end of nineteenth and early part of twentieth centuries CE) were discovered above the bottom layer (FII; see ceramic finds).
In the absence of an ancient habitation layer in the cave it is difficult to date its beginning and determine the nature of its use. It might have been hewn in antiquity as evinced by the niche in the northern side and the small opening in its ceiling; however, the later rock-cuttings obscured earlier traces of hewing. The ceramic finds and soot that covered most of the ceiling and the construction of a wall (W1) in the western part indicate modern use. This is evident in the expansion of the cave and its preparation, probably for storage, that possibly also included the cistern and was intended to serve the building located to the north.
Potsherds dating to the Ottoman period and beginning of the British Mandate era were found in the fill between W1 and the western side of the cave. The building, used as a dwelling until recently and situated in an open area c. 1 km east of the historical village of Silwan, might have been part of the development of the village, probably at the end of the Ottoman period or at the beginning of the British Mandate era.
The Pottery Assemblage
Benjamin J. Dolinka
A small corpus of ceramics was recovered from the excavations of the cave. Most of the pottery presented here was found in L102 (Fig. 9:1–5, 8), located in the northwest sector of the cave, to the west of W1; one other fragment comes from L101, a topsoil context inside of the cave (Fig. 9:6) and another fragment was recovered from L103, outside of the cave on its western side (Fig. 9:7). The assemblage consists primarily of locally produced buff or pinkish buff wares with calcite inclusions, and includes bowls, store jars and jugs dating from the Late Ottoman and Early Mandate periods, or the nineteenth through early twentieth centuries. Due to the paucity of published pottery from these periods, parallels for the illustrated vessels were difficult to obtain. That being said, many of the vessel forms have counterparts in the so-called ‘Black Gaza Ware’ or bear affinities to contemporaneous assemblages from local excavations, such as those from the Ottoman walls of the Old City excavated by Kenyon and Belmont Castle, as well as further afield, such as at Ramat Ha-Nadiv.
Three bowls are presented. The first two (Fig. 9:1, 2) have out-turned externally thickened rims and multiple external grooves below the rim zone. They are from carinated bowls that had a finger-impressed external ridge at the carination point, although both are broken at the carination. The form is most commonly known in the Black Gaza Ware; however, the examples from the cave are in buff and red wares, respectively, demonstrating the prevalence of the form, regardless of ware type. Similar bowls have been recovered from the Late Ottoman village at Ramat Ha-Nadiv (Boas 2000
:551, Pl. II:8). The third bowl (Fig. 9:3) is carinated with external grooves below the carination, which is another form attested in the Black Gaza Ware. An interesting vessel is the serving pot (Fig. 9:4). The form is well-known from Late Ottoman and Early Mandate Black Gaza Ware cooking pots, although this example is in a buff fabric, and likely served as tableware and not as a cooking utensil.
Two store jars were part of the assemblage. The first (Fig. 9:5) has a high neck and a collared externally thickened rim. Like most of the jars and jugs dating from this period, it is in a buff fabric and has an external finger-impressed ridge on the neck just below the rim. A similar jar was found in Belmont Castle, Phase E, dating to the Mandate period (Gray 2000
:92, Fig. 6.2:48)
. The second jar (Fig. 9:6) has a slightly out-turned and externally thickened collared rim. Like many of the contemporaneous bowl forms, the rim is characterized by wavy undulations, a hallmark of Late Ottoman and Early Mandate vessels.
The last two vessels are jugs of buff and pinkish buff fabrics. The first (Fig. 9:7) has a flared rim, square in section, and has parallels from Kenyon’s excavations of the Ottoman walls of the Old City in Jerusalem, where it comes from a mixed Mamluk/Ottoman context (Prag 2008
:272, Fig. 176:18)
. The second jug (Fig. 9:8) has a cup-shaped mouth and incurved rim. Although no published parallels for this jug could be found, its fabric fits well with the rest of the ceramic assemblage presented here and is most likely of contemporary date.
The pottery assemblage from Ras al-Amud provides a glimpse into the highly under-published ware and vessel forms dating from the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries in the Jerusalem region.
Boas A. 2000. Pottery and Small Finds from the Late Ottoman Village and the Early Zionist Settlement. In Y. Hirschfeld, ed. Ramat Hanadiv Excavations: Final Report of the 1984-1998 Seasons. Jerusalem. Pp. 547–580.
Gray A.D. 2000. The Unglazed Pottery. In R.P. Harper and D. Pringle, eds. Belmont Castle: The Excavation of a Crusader Stronghold in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Oxford. Pp. 87–100.
Kloner A. 2001. Survey of Jerusalem, the Northeastern Sector (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem.