In June 2009, a salvage excavation was conducted at Khirbat el-Keik in Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-6814; map ref. 199688–749/624295–342), after mechanical equipment damaged ancient remains. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Nahal Yehoshua Association, was directed by E. Kogan-Zehavi, with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), N. Zak (drafting) and I. Lidski-Reznikov (pottery drawing).
Khirbat el-Keik was discovered in excavations conducted in 1994–1995, with the establishment of Ramat Bet Shemesh (Dagan 2010
; Dagan 2011
). The eastern part of the site was excavated; buildings dating to the Iron Age II, four winepresses, a cistern, a lime kiln and a burial cave from the Byzantine period were exposed (Feig 1998
). Numerous agricultural terrace walls were discovered on the spurs surrounding the site, which constituted the settlement’s agricultural hinterland (Dagan 2010
:178–179, Fig. 232.1). An agricultural enclosure ascribed to the Byzantine period was revealed in a 2003 excavation conducted on the lower southern slopes of the site. The enclosure was built over a wall of a Hellenistic-period building; the building extended north of the enclosure, but was not excavated. Since no architectural remains were discovered south of the enclosure, it is assumed that this was the southern boundary of the Hellenistic settlement (Kogan-Zehavi 2009
). Five salvage excavations conducted at Khirbat el-Keik between 2005 and 2010 partially unearthed a settlement extending 20 dunams, which existed in the Persian, Hellenistic and Early Roman periods (Permit Nos. A-4808, A-5141, A-5769).
Three trial trenches (1 × 2 m, 1 × 5 m, 2 × 5 m) were opened in the center of the site, between a winepress and a ritual bath (miqveh) that had been exposed in the previous seasons (Fig. 1) in order to determine whether the two installations were part of the same complex or belonged to two separate complexes. The excavation went only as deep as the tops of the walls, allowing an understanding of the architectural plan, but did not reach the floors. Thus, the finds were discovered in fill that covered the walls.
The top of a long, north–south wall (W1002; length c 5 m; Fig. 2) was unearthed. The southern part of the wall consisted of a single row of coarsely dressed stones (width 0.3 m), whereas its northern part was a double row of stones (width 0.5 m). The southern end of Wall 1002 adjoined a wall (W211). Wall 211, which continues westward, was previously exposed; it encloses the winepress on the north. Wall 1002 is abutted on the east by two walls (W1003, W1006). Walls 1002, 1003, 1006 and 211 enclose two rooms (L1000, L1001; Fig. 3) that belong to the western part of a building that extended eastward of W1002. The eastern enclosing wall (W1008) of Room 1001 was also uncovered. The walls were built of a single row of coarsely dressed stones. A second wall that abutted W1002 from the west (W1007) was built of a single row of coarsely dressed stones set on fieldstones (L1005). Only a short, badly preserved segment of the wall was found. Presumably it was built to enclose the miqveh.
A meager amount of pottery sherds was found at the level of the tops of the walls. The pottery was locally produced and included mainly two types of jars: jars with a folded rim (Fig. 4:3) and jars with a rim thickened on the outside (Fig. 4:4–8). Other vessels discovered included a bowl (Fig. 4:1), a krater (Fig. 4:2) and jugs (Fig. 4:9, 10). The pottery is largely homogenous and dates to the first century BCE, with the exception of the krater (Fig. 4:2), which dates to the first century CE.
The exposure of W1002 confirms that the miqveh and the built winepress belonged to a single complex. It seems that the Building (1) was constructed after the winepress, which was intentionally included within the confines of the building. The winepress continued to operate even after the construction of Building 1. The ceramic artifacts previously discovered inside the winepress dated to the Hasmonean and Early Roman periods. On the basis of this data and the results of the current excavation, the construction of Building 1 should be ascribed to the Early Roman period and the cessation of activity in it to the first century CE, probably in in 70 CE, in wake of the Jewish Revolt.
Dagan Y. 2010. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: The Gazetter
(IAA Reports 46). Jerusalem.
Dagan Y. 2011. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: Landscapes of Settlement: From the Paleolithic to the Ottoman Periods (IAA Reports 47). Jerusalem.
Feig N. 1998. Khirbet el-Keik (Site 94/1). ESI 17:114–116.