During April–May 2003, excavations were carried out at Me‘arat Ha-Zadik (the Cave of the Righteous) in Shemurat Ha-Shayyarot (Permit No. A-3880*; map ref. NIG 2045/6348; OIG 1545/1348) prior to the proposed expansion of Highway 1. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Public Works Department, was directed by H. Stark, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying and drafting) and T. Sagiv (photography).
The cave, which lies on the northern side of Highway 1 and is popularly identified by local Muslims as Sheikh ‘Ali, was part of a larger structure complex situated on a traffic island to the south. The interior of the cave was blackened from fire and empty, apart from a thin layer of gravel and soil on the floor. The excavation concentrated outside the entrance, while the rest of the cave was cleaned of modern debris, drawn and photographed. The cave (6.5 × 10.0 m) had an entrance, which was a natural opening closed by a fieldstone wall, along its southern wall (Fig. 1). Along the northern wall was a rock-cut shelf (3 m wide) that bore small traces of plaster. A stone-built fireplace or oven with a stone chimney, which contained faunal remains, was located near the southwestern corner. The modern gravel floor overlaid the original bedrock floor, which was exposed in a number of places. A cup mark, which contained a single medieval potsherd, was uncovered near the doorway. The exterior side of the cave’s entrance seems to have once been arched and possibly covered with a dome (Fig. 2). Remains of stone steps, leading to the entrance and a small wall were found; however, no diagnostic ceramic or other finds were recovered.