The remains consist of quarrying lines and steps that descend to the northwest, probably following the declination of the natural bedrock layers. The quarried bedrock layer was soft limestone, ranging in color from white to pale yellow; it is surrounded by cracked and friable layers that restricted the possibility of quarrying. Separating channels that were horizontally hewn from the direction of the front (width mostly 10 cm) and remains of building stones that were not removed or were broken during detachment were exposed. Two stones could be reconstructed (35×40×60 cm; Fig. 3). No finds that can date the quarry were discovered.
The Wall and Floors
A section of wall that was probably composed of two separate and adjacent walls, or was built in two phases (W1—width 0.6 m; W2—width 0.4 m; Figs. 4, 5) was built within the limits of the quarry. Wall 1 was exposed for a distance of 4.4 m and W2 extended an additional c. 2.5 m west, below modern construction.
The wall foundations were set on top of the bedrock; in a place where the quarrying was deep fieldstones were compacted to form a base for the wall. It was not possible to distinguish the separation between the two walls at the bottom of the foundation. The fill between the stones was very dark and contained a large amount of ash and a very small quantity of potsherds.
The walls above the foundations were partially built of medium-sized fieldstones, with gray mortar containing ground potsherds and charcoal. The western end of W1 (length c. 1.5 m) was built of small stones bound with mortar and above them courses of medium-sized fieldstones.
Both sides of the later wall were coated with plaster while the side connecting the two walls was left plain. The plaster on W1 was applied in two layers; a coarse brown layer (thickness up to 5 cm) affixed to the stones of the wall and topped with a thin gray layer. The thickness of the coarse layer was uneven and therefore the line of the outer plaster layer is curved. At the bottom of the wall the plaster curved outward and connected to a plaster floor (L115) that abutted it from the south.
The northern face of W2 was coated with a thick layer of gray plaster, which was as strong as concrete, and was also applied to the wall in a curved and uneven fashion. The plaster also covered the surface of the bedrock where the wall was built on the rock. The plaster was presumably related to water installations.
On both sides of the later wall, sections of floors that abutted them were discerned. At elevation 765.70 m, a floor of compacted pebbles was identified on both sides of the wall, to the north and south. The southern floor (L115) was set right on top of the bedrock and remains of white plaster could be discerned above it. The northern floor (L123) was built on top of compacted stone fill that reached the bedrock and was enclosed within a hewn bedrock trench (width c. 1.1 m). At an elevation of 766.33 m, a very small section of a plaster floor (L109) was exposed to the south; it was founded right on top of the bedrock in its northern part, and on top of brown fill containing stones and a very small amount of potsherds in its southern part. North of the later wall, the bedrock was used as a floor, at a uniform elevation, as evidenced by the plaster that connected W2 with the bedrock surface.
The remains were too meager to comprehend the complex they belonged to—building remains, installations or open courtyards. The few potsherds found in the fill that was undisturbed point to a possible date for the construction of the walls and floors in the Late Byzantine period or the beginning of the Early Islamic period (sixth–seventh centuries CE). A coin discovered at the top of the fill above Floor 109 dates to the second half of the fifth century CE (IAA 141313).
Two sections of stone pavement (c. 2 sq m; Fig. 6) were identified at the eastern end of the excavation area. One stone pavement section (L111) was built directly on top of the bedrock (Fig. 7), in the pattern of a rectangular frame of yellow stones enclosing gray stones. The yellow stones were hard dressed limestone bearing combed stone-dressing marks (varying length, width c. 25 cm, thickness c. 10 cm). The gray stones were softer limestone, with no stone-dressing marks on their bottom side. Around the pavement of dressed stones was a fill of small pebbles with plaster that apparently supported the edges of the pavement.
The second pavement section (L114), c. 1 m north of Pavement 111, consisted of fieldstones that were partially dressed on their upper side, and bonded with soft white mortar in place on top of the bedrock. The pavement continued beyond the limits of the excavation area.
No lines of walls that could be ascribed to these pavements were discerned and the scant fill below the floors yielded a few potsherds that could not be dated. It was therefore impossible to determine the use of the floor segments or their date; nevertheless, it seems these are modern pavements.
The sections of the plastered wall and floors that were exposed in the excavation, dating apparently to the Late Byzantine or the beginning of the Early Islamic periods, probably relate to complexes of monasteries from the period that had previously been exposed in nearby excavations (ESI
10:130–133; 13:78–80; ‘Atiqot
29:71–75 [Hebrew]; HA-ESI 122
, HA-ESI 123
). The exposed remains are too meager to be understood or ascribed with certainty to one of these complexes. These remains were built atop the confines of ancient quarries, probably dating from the Roman period.
The sections of the plastered wall and floors that were exposed in the excavation, dating apparently to the Late Byzantine or the beginning of the Early Islamic periods, probably relate to complexes of monasteries from that period that had previously been exposed in nearby excavations