During June 2012, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Umm Tuba neighborhood in the southeastern region of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6531; map ref. 221625–70/626210–60), prior to private construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Mortada Shweiki, was directed by Z. ‘Adawi, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), D. Levi (GPS), A. Peretz (field photography), S. Al-‘Almah (metal detection), D. Yagar (antiquities inspection), B. Dolinka (ceramics), Y. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
The excavation (c. 200 sq m) was conducted in an agricultural area at the northwestern end of the neighborhood (Fig. 1), c. 150 m southwest of the Khirbat Umm Tuba antiquities site, on a gentle hillside that descends south toward Nahal Darga (Survey of Jerusalem, The Southern Sector , Site 115). Three farming terrace walls, a small building stone quarry, a cupmark and rock-cuttings were exposed in the excavation (Fig. 2).
Three similarly built farming terrace retaining walls (W1–3; Figs. 3, 4) were exposed. Almond trees recently grew on the terraces but most were cut down prior to the excavation, except for two that were discerned on the surface. Wall 1 (preserved length 23 m, width 1.2 m, preserved height 1.7–2.0 m) was the widest and longest of the walls. Oriented east–west, it was built of two rows of large fieldstones founded on the bedrock with a core of small amount of soil. A layer of quarrying debris mixed with light brown soil (L103) was exposed directly above the bedrock along the northern side of W1; it was overlain with a layer of light brown alluvium. A shallow L-shaped rock-cutting (Fig. 5), probably a localized cutting of several stones, was discerned on the bedrock. Similar rock-cuttings, with no connection between them, were discovered south of the wall (L105).
A building stone quarry (L110; c. 2.5×3.0 m; Fig. 6) was exposed south of W1. It was covered with light brown alluvium (thickness c. 0.3 m) mixed with a very small amount of quarrying debris. A single stone-cutting level was discerned in the quarry. In addition, evidence of stone cutting and several separating channels (width 0.1 m) were noted, indicating that different size stones were hewn (0.3– 0.4×0.5–0.6×0.6–0.8 m). Several non-diagnostic potsherds were found in the soil that covered the quarry.
A rectangular rock-cutting (0.45×1.75 m, depth 0.16–0.30 m; Fig. 7) was revealed in the south of the excavation area; it was damaged when a road was paved. A separating channel (width 0.1 m, depth 5 cm) was discerned on the eastern side of the quarry. It is possible that the quarries in the excavation area might have been intended for quarrying stones employed in the construction of the retaining walls of the farming terraces in the vicinity.
A rock-hewn cupmark (L116; diam. 0.4 m, depth 0.3 m; Fig. 8) was discovered in the east of the excavation area and in the west of the area, next to the southern side of W1, was a rock-cutting (L114; Fig. 9) that might have been the beginning of a rock-cut cave.
A coin from the second quarter of the fifth century CE (IAA 141909) and several potsherds from the Hellenistic, Early and Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were discovered in the alluvium that covered the excavation area. It seems that these finds were washed down to the site from farther up the slope.