Trial trenches were dug at the site prior to the excavation to assess the extent of the area of the quarries. Accumulations of soil and modern refuse were removed from both areas using mechanical equipment, with the exception of a trial square that was left in each area. A small courtyard quarry was discovered in Area A and several small quarries were exposed in Area B. The quarrying method and the dimensions of the stones (0.2 × 0.2 × 0.6 m; 0.2 × 0.4 × 0.6 m; 0.36 × 0.50 × 0.60 m) were similar in all quarries. Severance channels (upper width 8–10 cm, lower width 3–4 cm; Fig. 3) with trapezoidal cross sections were discovered in the quarries. Diagonal chisel marks (width 1–2 cm, depth 0.5 cm) were visible on the quarry walls. A scant number of non-diagnostic pottery sherds was found in the quarries.
Area A. A small L-shaped courtyard quarry (L100; 10 × 13 m, max. depth 1.2 m; Figs. 4, 5) with several quarrying steps that descended toward the center was exposed. It seems that the quarry continued to the south and north, beyond the excavation area. A trial square (L101; 1.5 × 2.5 m) was excavated in the south of the quarry. A layer of dark brown accumulated alluvium (depth 0.5–1.0 m) was identified above a layer of quarrying chips mixed with pinkish-white, thin-grained sediment (thickness 0.2–0.4 m).
Area B. A concentration of four small quarries was discovered (L200; 2.6 × 3.1 m, max. depth 0.4 m; 2.7 × 2.7 m, max. depth 0.5 m; 3.8 × 4.4 m, max. depth 0.5 m; 3.7 × 5.8 m, max. depth 0.6 m; Figs. 6–9). A trial square (L201; 1.5 × 2.5 m) opened in the southeast of the quarry revealed two accumulation layers that were identical to those found in the quarry in Area A.
The quarrying method and the plan of the large quarry reveal the knowledge, advance planning and organization that made it possible for several groups of laborers to work simultaneously. The quarries discovered at this and other sites in the region were used to provide building stones to Jerusalem, and perhaps, to several nearby sites in the city’s northern hinterland, such as Khirbat Hawanit, Khirbat el-Mughram and Khirbat ‘Addasa (‘Adawi 2007). Stone quarries are difficult to date because the quarrying method remained the same for many centuries (Safrai and Sasson 2001:2). Nevertheless, based on the similarity of the quarries revealed by the excavation to the nearby quarries that were dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods (second–sixth centuries CE), it is plausible that the quarries at Khirbat el-Mughram also operated during these periods.