The Finds in the Ravine (Fig. 2)
Two excavation squares (B2, B3; c. 50 sq m.) were opened south of a trench dug for a modern water pipe. In Sq B2, a layer of limestone (L102; Fig. 3), partially burnt, along with several potsherds dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age, were exposed. Underlying this layer, alluvium devoid of any ancient remains was discovered in a probe (L104).
A stone wall (W10; length 8 m, width 1–2 m; Fig. 3) was revealed in Square B3, on a level lower than Layer 102. The wall, parallel to the channel, was built of medium and large fieldstones that were haphazardly placed with no evident lines of construction. It was probably meant to mark a cultivation plot and prevent soil from eroding into the channel below. Several jar fragments, ascribed to the Intermediate Bronze Age, including a rim (Fig. 4:1), a base (Fig. 4:2) and a ledge handle (Fig. 4:3), were found in a layer of hard soil (L108) that was excavated between the stone wall and the alluvium to its south (L109). While dismantling the wall (L110) Early Bronze Age I potsherds were found, including a bowl (Fig. 4:4). It seems that the wall was built in Early Bronze Age I or later and was probably also used in the Intermediate Bronze Age.
Columbarium Remains
A columbarium cave hewn in a chalk outcrop was discovered c. 50 m east of the ravine. The columbarium was exposed after mechanical equipment destroyed its opening and caused the collapse of the cave’s ceiling and most of its northern part. The southern part of the cave remained covered but was not excavated out of fear the remainder of the ceiling might collapse and no sections were drawn.
The shape of the cave was irregular (c. 3×5 m, height c. 2.5 m; Figs. 5, 6). The rock-cutting along its southern side was coarse and in the center of the cave were three horizontal rows of hewn cavities (c. 0.25×0.35 m, average depth 0.35 m), in which doves were presumably raised. The alluvium that accumulated inside the cave (L105, L106) contained numerous fragments of baggy-shaped jars from the Byzantine period, indicating the cave ceased to be used at that time or afterward.
The finds from Early Bronze Age I and the Intermediate Bronze Age join other finds from these periods that were discovered in the vicinity. A settlement dating to Early Bronze Age IB and settlement remains from the Intermediate Bronze Age were discovered at Eshta’ol, c. 2 km southeast of the excavation (Golani A. and Storchan D. 2008. Early Bronze Age I and Intermediate Bronze Age Settlement at Eshta'ol. New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region. Vol II. In D. Amit and G. Stiebel, eds. Jerusalem. Pp. 5–14). Settlement remains that date to the Intermediate Bronze Age were discovered in an excavation at Khirbat Keila (HA-ESI 124) and remains of agricultural activity from the same period were discovered along the Nahal Har’el stream channel, west of the current excavation (HA-ESI 124).
Presumably, the Intermediate Bronze Age deposit is part of the settlement that was discovered at Khirbat Keila. In addition, it can be assumed that the columbarium discovered in the excavation was part of the agricultural hinterland of Khirbat Keila in the Byzantine period.