During September–October 2003, a development survey was conducted along the proposed alignment of Road 5 (Nahal Dan Boulevard) in Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-4058*; map ref. NIG 1975–90/6248–73; OIG 1475–90/1248–73). The survey, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, was directed by H. Stark, with the assistance of D. Weiss, H. Moyal and L. Barda (GPS/GIS).
Beginning at the Nahal Yarmut valley in the south and continuing north along the western slope of one of its tributaries, the proposed road alignment reaches a saddle, located to the west of Khirbat el-‘Alya (Fig. 1), from which the road begins to descend northward off the hill and continues along the broad and open valley of Nahal Yimla. Running along its east bank, it reaches an area just east of the confluence of Nahal Yimla and Nahal Yish‘i, where it joins an existing road.
The planned road passes close to a number of major regional sites; some were excavated during the development of the Ramat Bet Shemesh neighborhood (ESI 17:81–136), including Khirbat en-Nabi Bulus, Nahal Yarmut, Khirbat el-‘Alya, Deir ‘Asfur, Khirbat Fattir, Nahal Yish'i and Khirbat Umm es-Sumud.
A total of forty-five sites were discovered in the surveyed area (c. 2.5 km long, 60 m wide). The majority were concentrated in the hilly area between Kh. en-Nabi Bulus and Kh. el-‘Alya, which is covered with redzina soil and thick Mediterranean vegetation. Sites mainly connected with agriculture and food processing were recorded––winepresses, oil presses, cupmarks, a watchtower, quarries, water cisterns terrace walls and stone clearance heaps. Some had previously been investigated by Y. Dagan (ESI 17). Farther north, along the open and broad, largely treeless, bank of Nahal Yimla, the soil changes to a marl type and only sites connected with food cultivation, such as large field systems formed by field walls, long broad terrace walls and a village pathway, were found. The area around Nahal Yimla continues to be intensively cultivated today (viticulture being the main crop) and modern agricultural techniques seem to have erased traces of earlier remains. Little if any ceramic finds were discovered in this region; in the hilly area, potsherds from the Early Bronze Age, as well as the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were well represented.
The principle sites in the survey are described hereafter.
. A pathway (Fig. 2) running along the saddle that connects Khirbat el-‘Alya with Deir ‘Asfur (map ref. NIG 198385–437/625083–116; OIG 148385–437/125083–116). The path (width 2–3 m), oriented east–west, was delineated by intermittent individual fieldstones placed upright along either side. It was set on a well worn bedrock base with occasional rock-cuttings and quarry marks intended to make passage easier.
consisted of a rock-cut water cistern (Fig. 3) and two field installations for processing olive oil (bodeda
), carved into bedrock outcrops.
. Remains of an oval mound (3 × 6, height 1.5 m; Fig. 4), whose foundation is built of large roughly cut fieldstones (0.8 × 1.0 m). This mound may be connected with the remains of a large industrial oil press found nearby.
comprised three small cupmarks (diam. c. 0.1 m) and a larger single cupmark (diam. 0.3 m; Fig. 5) that were probably used for processing olives.
. On the northern slope of the hill south of Nah
al Yimla (map ref. NIG 198808/625070; OIG 148808/125070), a rock-cut stone basin (yam
; Fig. 6) connected with olive-oil production, was found in situ
. The basin (diam. 2.2 m) was carved in a bedrock outcrop and has a raised edge (c. 0.1 m high) around the outside rim of the stone and a central hole (0.15 × 0.15 m) where the upright axis would have been located.
was composed of two cupmarks (diam. c. 0.4 m, 0.25 m respectively), recessed within a carved frame (Fig. 7).
Site 38. A village pathway (length c. 100 m, width 4 m; map ref. NIG 198706–810/625984–626002; OIG 148706–810/125984–126002) was found on the east bank of Nahal Yimla, leading from the area of Khirbat Fattir westward to the wadi bed and up in the direction of Deir ‘Asfur. The path was delineated by two parallel double-faced stone walls (width 1.2 m, height 1.5 m), built of finely cut and dressed stones, probably in secondary use, with a core of small fieldstones.
The remains recorded in this survey represent the agricultural hinterland of the surrounding settlements. The occurrence of industrial facilities for olive oil extraction and winepresses on the rocky hillsides indicates that the food was processed from probably locally grown foodstuffs in the nearby Yarmut valley, where springs are located. The use of the marl soil area, located to the north, for the cultivation of crops seems to be limited to relatively modern times.