Area A. Remains of a cistern and an installation that was probably used to produce olive oil (bodeda) were excavated. The cistern, exposed prior to the excavation, was missing its top (L103; diam. 6 m, depth c. 4 m; Figs. 2–6); its eastern half was excavated. The sides were coated with gray plaster. A feeder channel for conveying water (L102) was hewn in the bedrock to the west. The fill discovered in the cistern contained the remains of the installation’s top and eroded soil that had been swept inside from farther up the slope, in the direction of the monastery. The diverse ceramic finds from the fill date to several periods and include bowls (Fig. 7:1–3) and a jar (Fig. 7:4) from Iron Age II; jars (Fig. 7:5–7) and jugs (Fig. 7:8, 9) from the Hellenistic-Hasmonean period; bowls (Fig. 7:10–12), a cooking pot (Fig. 7:13), a jar (Fig. 7:14) and a jug (Fig. 7:15) from the Byzantine period; noteworthy among the bowls is a Late Roman Ware bowl from the fifth–sixth centuries CE (Fig. 7:11); and a bowl (Fig. 7:16) from the Early Islamic period, which was found together with fragments of a contemporaneous glass lamp equipped with handles.
The bedrock-hewn installation (Figs. 8, 9) had a slot (L119) in its northern end, two circular basins (L120, L121, diam. 0.1–0.8 m), connected by a channel, and a nearby cupmark (L122; diam. 0.35 m, depth 0.3 m). The northern basin (L120), the main one in the installation, was shallow and a small cavity was hewn in its floor (depth 0.3 m). The shallow basin was not used for collecting liquid, but rather functioned as a press bed. The deeper southern basin (L121; depth 0.5 m) was probably intended for storing and receiving liquid.
The shape of the installation indicates it was used to produce liquid, possibly olive oil. A wooden beam was meant to be inserted in the slot at the northern end. The installation with a cavity in its center (L120) was used as the press bed for pressing the olives and the oil flowed from it to the southern basin. The cupmark was intended for placing a jar when filling it from inside the basin.
This was probably a small olive press. A similar installation from the Iron Age–Persian period was excavated at Khirbat el-Burj in the Ramot Alon neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-1881/1992; D. Amit, per. comm.).
Area B. Remains of a field wall (Figs. 10–13), oriented northeast-southwest (length c. 30 m) and preserved a single course high, were excavated. The wall was built of a single row of unworked, medium and large fieldstones. The stones of the wall were placed directly on the bedrock without mortar, using small stones to balance and stabilize them. A shallow layer of soil (0.15 m) was exposed on either side of the wall and above the bedrock. No datable finds were discovered. The wall was probably used as an agricultural fence that delimited the boundary between cultivation plots.
Area C. A winepress hewn on a gentle bedrock slope was exposed (Figs. 14, 15). It included a haphazardly hewn square treading floor (2.1×2.4 m) that slanted slightly to the south, allowing the must to flow into two collecting vats, located to the south. One vat was rectangular (L202; 0.70–1.00×1.75 m, depth 0.6 m) and connected to the treading floor by a hewn channel that was meant to allow the must to flow to the collecting vats. The vat was connected to another vat in the west (L203; 0.60×0.67 m; depth 0.25 m) by way of a shallow channel. The winepress was covered with alluvium fill from the top of the slope. A body fragment of a jar from Iron Age II (Fig. 7:4) was discovered in the alluvium.
The excavated remains point to an agricultural complex that extends across the steep slopes and includes cisterns, terrace walls, agricultural fences, watchman’s huts, winepresses, olive presses and other installations used for processing agricultural produce. The agricultural complex served a settlement whose economy was based on growing olives and vineyards, which is still, to some extent, ongoing to this day. These remains join the finds of excavations and surveys in the nearby vicinity from recent years and some of them can be associated with the monasteries north of the farming settlements in Jerusalem’s hinterland, such as Khirbat Umm Tuba and Ramat Rahel.