A salvage excavation was conducted in September 2000 on the southern slope of the hill where the Holyland Hotel is located in Jerusalem (A-3294; map ref. NIG 21785/62905; OIG 16785/12905), prior to paving a road. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the ‘Ehud Tayyar’ Company, was directed by Y. Zelinger, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), I. Berin (drafting) and T. Sagiv (photography).
The remains exposed in the excavation included a watchman’s hut (Area A), a water reservoir (Area B) and winepresses (Areas B, E) that dated to the Ottoman period––the time of the Arab village, Manahat (El-Maliha), which was located there until 1948. Hewn burial caves with vertical entry shafts were recorded as well and were dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age (EB IV; Areas C, D), judging by their small finds.
Area A (Fig. 1) was at the western end of the excavation. Remains of a square watchman’s hut (3.5 × 4.0 m), built of medium-sized fieldstones that were set on bedrock, were discovered. The northern side (W100) was preserved 1.5 m high and the southern side (W101) was preserved 0.5 m high. The watchman’s hut contained ceramic finds that mainly dated to the Ottoman period, with several sherds from the Mamluk period. A segment of a shallow channel (length 7 m) built of flat fieldstones was discerned next to the northern side of the hut; it drained the rain runoff that flowed down the slope.
Area B (Fig. 2) was 40 m east of Area A. A hewn, rectangular pool (L302; 4.2 × 5.5 m, depth 1.5–4.0 m) for storing runoff was found. The pool served the residents of the Arab village, but it is possible that its use began in an earlier period. No datable finds were retrieved from the pool. Next to the northern corner of the pool was a hewn winepress that comprised a treading surface, which made use of a large inclined stone (L305; 2.0 × 2.5 m) and a collecting vat (L303; diam. 0.7 m, depth 0.8 m). The southern corner of the collecting vat was destroyed when the pool was quarried; therefore, the winepress probably predated the pool.
Area C was 50 m east of Area B. A rock-cut burial tomb with a vertical entry shaft (diam. 1.0–1.2 m, depth 0.9–1.9 m) that descended to an entrance (diam. 0.5–0.6 m), leading to a burial chamber (diam. 2 m, height 0.9–1.2 m), was uncovered. The cave, which was plundered in the past, contained a few non-diagnostic potsherds, bones that belonged to at least one individual 14–16 years of age, and hundreds of beads, mostly of white faience and a few of different-colored carnelian, which dated the cave to the Intermediate Bronze Age. Several square nails that probably belonged to bronze daggers from the Intermediate Bronze Age were recovered from the cave as well. Two hewn shafts (diam. 1.2 m, depth 0.5 m) were noted 2 m east of the burial cave; they belonged to burial caves that were probably part of the same cemetery.
Area D was c. 20 m northwest of Area C. On a bedrock terrace, higher than Area C, four burial caves with remains of vertical entry shafts were detected. They were probably part of the same cemetery from the Intermediate Bronze Age. It seems that the residents of the Arab village knew about the ancient caves and adapted them through quarrying to be reused for storage and shelter.
Area E (Fig. 3) was 15 m east of Area B and included a winepress hewn on a leveled bedrock surface. It consisted of a rectangular treading surface (L309; 2.0 × 2.5 m, depth 5 cm) that was cut haphazardly and a collecting vat to its west (L310; 1.2 × 1.5 m, depth 0.6 m). Modern potsherds in the collecting vat indicate it was probably used as a refuse pit in recent times.