Area A (Fig. 2). In trial trenches conducted prior to the excavation, a concentration of c. 15 stones of various sizes was discovered, some well hewn and some coarsely dressed (L105; average stone dimensions: 0.20 × 0.25 × 0.60 m, 0.3 × 0.7 × 1.0 m). No architectural remains were discovered in the excavation, and it was ascertained that the stones were not found in situ. Some of the stones were discovered on virgin soil above bedrock; others were found in a light brown soil fill (L106, L108, L113). This fill contained several pottery sherds from the Hellenistic, Early and Late Roman and Byzantine periods, which were deposited due to erosion. The building documented in the survey near Area A was constructed of dressed stones and included a mosaic floor (Kloner 2003:96* Site [101] 12). The size of the building’s stones is consistent with some of the hewn stones found in the excavation, suggesting a connection between the two finds.
An agricultural terrace wall (W1; length c. 17 m, width 0.2–0.4 m, height 0.4 m; Fig. 3), running along a northwest–southeast axis, was unearthed in the middle of the excavation area. The wall’s foundations were set into the upper part of a light brown soil fill, above the roughly hewn stones mentioned above. It was built of small and medium-sized fieldstones and was preserved to a height of three courses. A section of wall, at the western end of Sq 1, was repaired, probably after it collapsed, with four medium-sized fieldstones that were larger than the other stones. The light brown soil fill was overlaid with a fill of dark brown growing soil (L102–L104, L107; Fig. 4) that abutted the wall; it seems that this fill was brought to the terrace after the wall was built. The ceramic finds discovered in both of the soil fills are similar. Several pottery sherds dating to the Hasmonean and Early Roman periods were discovered when the wall was dismantled.
Area B (Figs. 5, 6). An ancient quarry (L112) was exposed; stone-chiseling marks were noted in the area, indicating that stones of various sizes had been hewn there. The stones produced in the quarry were on the whole smaller than the roughly hewn stones found in Area A. Chisel marks of a completely hewn stone (0.45 × 0.65 m) were exposed in the southern part of the quarry. The quarry was covered with compacted brown soil fill, small fieldstones and quarrying debris. The fill contained pottery sherds from the Hasmonean and Early Roman periods, which had eroded into it, as well as an iron object that was probably part of a plow (Fig. 7).
Area C (Fig. 8). A square burial cave (c. 2.65 × 2.70 m, height 1.5 m) was exposed that was meticulously hewn within an ancient quarry. The corners of the cave were rounded and its ceiling was levelled. The cave’s square opening (0.55 × 0.60 m; Fig. 9) was sealed with a closing stone (0.3 × 0.7 × 0.7 m; Fig. 10); a large rock was placed in front of it. Inside the cave was a hewn rectangular standing pit (0.80 × 1.75 m), the bottom of which was covered with soil. A U-shaped bedrock shelf was hewn around the standing pit along the walls of the cave (Figs. 11, 12). A round bedrock column (L117; diam. 0.9–1.0 m) that supported the ceiling was hewn on the eastern part of the shelf. Remains of light brown plaster (max. thickness 2 cm; Fig. 13) were discovered on the column. The bones of three individuals were found in the cave: on the northern shelf (L116) were the articulated bones of an individual placed in a supine position with its head in the east (see Fig. 11); near the lower part of the skeleton were additional bones and a skull, not in articulation, which belonged to an individual whose head was in the west; on the southern shelf (L114) were the articulated bones of the third individual, placed in in a supine position with its head in the west (see Fig. 12).
Two complete pottery vessels and three large fragments thereof, all dating to the second–first centuries BCE, were found on the northern shelf (Fig. 14). The complete vessels are a juglet with a round base, spherical body, straight neck, concave rim and a handle drawn from the rim to the shoulder (Fig. 15:4), dating from the late second century BCE to the first century CE; and a spindle-shaped unguentarium with a wide button base, long narrow body and pointed rim projecting downward (Fig. 15:5), dating to the late second century and particularly to the first century BCE. The unguentarium was found standing upright resting against the corner of the cave. The pottery fragments discovered on the shelf were placed with their concave side facing up, and may have been used as receptacles for burial offerings. They include a cooking pot base (Fig. 15:1); a jar with a short collar rim, straight neck and loop handle (Fig. 15:2), characteristic of the Hasmonean period and dating to the second half of the second century and the first century BCE; and a body fragment of a jar with a loop handle (Fig. 15: 3).
The excavation revealed an agricultural terrace wall in Area A that postdates a concentration of hewn stones; the wall was apparently built no later than the Byzantine period. Since none of the stones were hewn on all six faces and the stones were not uniform in size, they might have been rolled down from a quarry located farther up the slope, perhaps because they were broken or cracked. The burial cave in Area C is typical of burial caves of the Hasmonean period, which continue or imitate the Judean burial caves of Iron Age II and III (eighth–sixth centuries BCE; Kloner and Zelinger 2007; Mazar 1982:45). In most caves of this type, evidence of burials from the Hasmonean period was discovered alongside burials from the Herodian period, which are characterized by ossuaries and hewn loculi. The cave discovered at this site is one of only several Hasmonean-period caves with no evidence of use in the Herodian period. Since it was sealed, the cave provides a rare glimpse of a burial assemblage from the Hasmonean period.