In October–November 2018, a salvage excavation was undertaken on the corner of Pik and Qiryat Moshe Streets in the Qiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-8368; map ref. 218759/632524; Fig. 1), prior to an evacuation and reconstruction project (‘Pinui-Binui’) in the area.The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Waxman, Govrin, Geva Engineering, was directed by S. Mizrahi, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), A. Baharno (photogrammetry), O. Rose (drafting), H. Bitan (GPS/GIS), A. Weigmann (RTI), A. Peretz (photography), T. Lieberman (pottery), T. Gonen (pottery restoration), A. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing), A. Reznitsky (coin cleaning), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), S. Leshem (inspection), L. Oz (inspection and assistance in area supervision).
Two excavation areas were opened (A and B; Figs. 2. 3), c. 10 m apart. In both were areas remains of seven rooms (I–VII) belonging to a farmstead from Hasmonean and Herodian periods. In Area A, ten squares were opened (F10, F11, G11, G12, H11–13, I12, I13, K–L17) and in Area B, six (E7, E8, F7, F8, G8, G9). In Sq K–L17, 19 m northeast of the remains of the farmstead were large roughly worked stones (L123; fallen stones? carried by water?; Fig. 4) as well as pottery, including holemouth jars from the Iron Age. No architectural remains were discovered.
The survey of Jerusalem in the vicinity of Qiryat Moshe revealed tombs from the Herodian period (Kloner 2003:114*, Sites 94, 95). An excavation at Khirbat el-Buqei‘a, also in the vicinity of the current excavation, yielded structures from the Byzantine period (Kloner 2003:113*, Site 93). At the site of Naḥal Shave Ẓiyyon, south of the current excavation, were remains of Iron Age structures containing jars with seal impressions (Kloner 2003:1114*, Site 98). Excavations at Binyene Ha-Umma, 100 m northeast of the current excavation, exposed remains of pottery workshops from the Hasmonean and the Late Roman periods, as well as remains of a Roman Tenth Legion encampment (Be’eri and Levi 2018). An excavation near Herzl Boulevard uncovered remains of a building with roof tiles of the Tenth Legion (Kloner 2003:114*, Site 97). Excavations conducted north of Binyene Ha-Umma uncovered remains of a Jewish settlement established during the Hasmonean period (Avner, Ben-Or and Levy 2007). In the neighborhood of Bet Ha-Kerem, south of Qiryat Moshe, a farmstead was found from the Byzantine period and beneath it remains from the Iron Age and the Early Roman period (Billig 2008). A farmstead from the Iron Age was also found in the vicinity of Bet Ha-Kerem (Davidovich et al. 2006). An excavation at Bayit Va-Gan, c. 2.4 km from the current excavation, were unearthed of a farmstead from the Hellenistic period (third–second centuries BCE); a seal impression reading ‘י ה ד ט’ was discovered on a jar in the pottery assemblage from that excavation (Zilberbod 2012: Fig. 15:1).
Rooms I and II (Figs. 5, 6). In Sq F11 were remains of a fieldstone-built partition wall (W111; Fig. 7) separating two rooms (I and II), with an opening connecting them; only a small part of each room was uncovered. Room I (exposed area 1.92 × 5.90 m) was enclosed on the west by a wall (W127), where the entrance (0.67 × 0.71 m) was set at a level of c. 0.1 m higher than the later floor of the room (L144, see below); the walls enclosing the room on the east and south probably lay outside the excavation area. In the room were the remains of two superimposed plaster floors. The early floor (L110; Fig. 6: Section 3–3) was made of thick plaster which was laid on the bedrock. A probe in the eastern part of the room indicated that it was laid on a bedding of gravel mixed with sherds from the Hasmonean period that covered the bedrock; on the bedrock (L146) were an Iron Age krater and body sherds of pottery vessels from the Herodian period. Only a segment of the later floor (L144) was preserved in the western part of the room; it was damaged by modern concrete construction. Floor 144 was set on a fill of dark brown earth and fieldstones (L138), in which two fragments of vessels from the Second Temple period were found.
Room II was damaged by the construction of a concrete foundation of a building in 1936. The remains of a light-colored plaster floor (L120; exposed area 0.65 × 0.85 m), which abutted W111 from the north, are all that was exposed from the room. The elevation of Floor 120 was similar to that of the early floor (L110) in Room I. In Sqs G11–12, north of Room II, the bedrock surface was higher than the floor elevations of the farmstead rooms. Fragments of a concrete floor (Fig. 8) that probably belonged to a twentieth-century storeroom were also discovered in these two squares.
Room III (Figs, 5, 6). The northern wall of the room (L101; width 1.22 m; Fig. 9) was found in Sqs H12–13; the rest of the room’s walls had been destroyed by modern construction. Wall 101 was built of large and medium-sized fieldstones and plastered on both its faces. The room’s floor was not preserved, as it was severely damaged by tree roots. An accumulation of hard dark brown soil (L106) was found in the room mixed with numerous sherds. A layer of dark brown soil (L145; thickness 0.22 m; Fig. 6: Section 2–2) was exposed below the presumed elevation of the room’s floor and the base of W101. This layer extended down to bedrock, and it seems to be a natural accumulation that was leveled when the farmstead was built. Modern construction debris was found in the southwestern part of Sq H12 and excavated as a separate unit (L131).
Room IV (Figs. 5, 6). Segments of all four walls of the room were excavated (W101, W103, W108, W133; presumed size 4 × 8 m; Fig. 6: Section 1–1). The walls and floors of the room were partially damaged by modern construction and it was therefore only partially excavated (3.5 × 4.0 m; Fig. 6: Section 1–1). The walls were wide, built of fieldstones and plastered on the interior. Two superimposed plaster floors were found in the room (Fig. 10); the later floor (L134) was set directly on the earlier one (L135). In a probe in the southeastern corner of the room, Floor 135 was dismantled (L142) revealing Herodian-period sherds in the plaster. In a layer of dark brown soil mixed with gravel (L143; Fig. 6: Section 1–1), which extended from under Floor 135 down to bedrock, were signs of burning and pottery sherds from the end of the Hasmonean period and the beginning of the Herodian period. Three coins—imitations of a coin of Alexander Jannaeus (from 80/79 BCE and thereafter)—were found in the northeastern corner of the room—two in the earlier plaster floor (IAA 165590, 165591) and a third in the southern face of W109 (IAA 165594).
Above the remains of the room, at an elevation higher than the top of W108, was a layer of alluvium containing sherds (L104). Below the elevation of the top of W108 was dark brown alluvium (L117) with calcareous concretion and potsherds. Some of the latter are from the Hasmonean period, including a jar handle bearing a ‘י ה ד ט’ seal impression in Paleo-Hebrew script (Fig. 11), which is identical to Vanderhooft and Lipschits’s (2007:30) Type 17 seal. The Paleo-Hebrew script on the seal is identical to that on Hasmonean coins. Similar seals were found in strata from the third and second centuries CE in in Jerusalem—in the Jewish Quarter and the at City of David—as well as in the city’s agricultural hinterland, at Tell el-Ful and at Ḥorbat Ha-Moẓa (for references, see Vanderhooft and Lipschits 2007). Nahman Avigad proposed that the letter ט signified the method of collecting royal taxes, as do seals in the Phoenician world (Avigad 1974). Today there is no consensus on this theory, but nor are there other proposals for the significance of the letter ט.
Room V (Figs. 5, 6). A small part of this room was unearthed north of W108 (Fig. 12). It was damaged by modern construction, and therefore its excavation was not completed. The modern construction cut into the northern face of W108, creating a pit (L125) which was filled with modern soil and debris, including chunks of concrete.
Room VI (Figs. 13–17). This rectangular room (4.78 × 10.80 m) was delineated by the remains of four walls (W201, W208, W209, W211). Walls 201, 208 and 211 were wide and built of large and medium-sized fieldstones, whereas W209 was short, built of medium-sized fieldstones and may possibly have been constructed to thicken W204. A floor (L216) of large (c. 0.3 × 0.4 m) and medium-sized (0.22 × 0.25 m) fieldstones interspersed with brown soil was uncovered only in the northern part of the room, as it was not preserved in its southern part. A Seleucid coin minted in Tyre (198–126 BCE) was discovered in this floor (B2024; IAA 165592). The floor was laid on a fill of brown soil mixed with sherds (L215, L219) that served to level the bedrock, as it was lower in the southern part of the room; deep depressions in the bedrock were filled and sealed with a layer of medium-sized stones (L217). Fill 215/219 contained a coin of Alexander Jannaeus (80/79 BCE; IAA 165593), resembling the coins found in Room IV. No datable finds were found in Stone Layer 217.
Room VII (Figs. 13–17). To the south of Room VI was a narrow rectangular room (0.96 × 4.40 m) delineated by four walls (W201, W204, W208, W209). A layer of medium-sized and small fieldstones (L214), which may have served as the floor, covered a layer of dark brown soil containing fieldstones (L218).
To the east of Rooms VI and VII was a rectangular area enclosed by the eastern extension of Walls 204 (Room VII) and 211 (Room VI), which formed a corner with another wall (not excavated). This area was severely disturbed down to bedrock by mechanical equipment.
Vessels uncovered following the dismantling of Floor 110 in Room I include a cooking pot with a plain rim and a high neck (Fig. 18:1), typical of the Hasmonean period (second–first centuries BCE); collar-rim jars, among them a jar with a folded-out rim covering as much as two thirds of the height of the neck (Fig. 18:2), typical of the first half of the first century BCE; and a jar with a thickened rim and rounded profile (Fig. 18:3), typical of the Hellenistic period (third–second centuries BCE).
Pottery from the Hasmonean period was retrieved in Earthen Layer 145, which presumably lay under the floor of Room III, includes a wide, shallow, straight-sided bowl (Fig. 19:1); a short-necked cooking pot with a thickened rim (Fig. 19:2); a jar with a thickened rim that has a rounded section (Fig. 19:3); a jar with thickened rim that has a squared profile (Fig. 19:4); jars with a thickened everted neck (Fig. 19:5); and a jar with a short collar rim, folded out over the upper part of the neck (Fig. 19:6).
Pottery typical of the Hasmonean period was retrieved under Floor 135, the lower plaster floor in Room IV (L143; second century–first half of first century BCE). These finds include a plate-like flat bowl with straight sides and inverted rim (Fig. 20:1); a bowl with convex sides bearing remnants of black slip (Fig. 20:2), perhaps belonging to the group of black-slipped vessels common in the Hellenistic period, or a local imitation of such vessels; cooking pots with a plain rim and a high, sometimes everted, neck (Fig. 20:3–5); a jug with a ridged neck (Fig. 20:6); and a jar with a wide mouth and an everted rim (Fig. 20:7).
In the Fill 140 above the plaster floor in Room IV were fragments of a cooking pot with a short everted neck (Fig. 21:1), typical of the first century BCE; a cooking pot with a triangular-sectioned rim (Fig. 21:2), which first appeared in the second half of the first century BCE and continued into the first century CE; and a collar-rim jar, its rim folded almost to the base of the neck (Fig. 21:3). Similar cooking pots and jars appear together at the end of the first century BCE (e.g., in Assemblage 4 in the Jerusalem Citadel (Rapuano 2018:116–119).
Fill 219 in Room VI yielded a fragment of a cooking pot with a concave, everted neck and a thickened rim (Fig. 22:1), dated to the end of the second–early first centuries BCE. The southern part of the room (L210) revealed a jar fragment with a short collar rim, folded out and thickening the upper, outer part of the neck (Fig. 22:2); it too was dated to the end of the second and early first centuries BCE.
Typologically and chronologically, the pottery assemblage discovered under the floors and the walls of the structure resembles assemblages found at sites dated to the Hasmonean period or the beginning of the Herodian period (first century BCE), such as the Jericho palaces (Bar-Nathan 2002) and Strata 7–5 in the Jerusalem Citadel (Rapuano 2018). This assemblage dates the construction of the building to the first century BCE—the end of Hasmonean rule or the beginning of the reign of King Herod. The meager pottery discovered on the floors of the building is dated to the late first century BCE, thus indicating when the building was in use.
The excavation revealed remains of a farmstead that, based on the early pottery finds, was founded in the Hasmonean period and continued in use during the Herodian period. The farmstead is situated in an agricultural area, about 3.8 km as the crow flies from the Old City and c. 600 m from the closest settlement, which was discovered to the north of Binyene Ha-Umma (Avner, Ben-Or and Levy 2009; Be’eri and Levi 2018), and therefore seems to have not been linked to any settlement in the vicinity. The structure of the farmstead includes a row of five rooms (I–V) on a north–south axis and two additional rooms (VI, VII) oriented east–west; the rooms may have enclosed a large central courtyard. The building’s plan resembles other farmsteads on the outskirts of Jerusalem from these periods, each comprising a square courtyard surrounded by rooms, in which agricultural installations were found (Tal 2006:131). A farmstead whose plan and construction resemble those of the farmstead found in the excavation was uncovered at Har Adar (Area B; Dadon 1997). Other farmsteads with rooms surrounding courtyard were found at Ras Abu-Ma‘aruf in northern Jerusalem (Seligman 1999), Khirbat Ka‘kul (Seligman 2006), Pisgat Ze’ev (Nadelman 1994; Shukron and Savariego 1994) and Qalandia (Magen 2004). These farms were part of Jerusalem’s agricultural hinterland. B. Zissu claimed that the farmstead uncovered at Qalandia was fortified, while the rest of the farmsteads noted above were private and thus were unfortified (Zissu 2002:254–256).
Some of the rooms uncovered in the excavation revealed remnants of plaster on the walls, indicating their use for storing agricultural produce. O. Tal proposed that these were autarkic farms that produced wine and oil (Tal 2006:130). Superimposed plaster floors and repairs of the plaster on the walls attest to the long period of time during which the rooms were in use.
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