In October–November 2014, a salvage excavation of a lime kiln was conducted in Neighborhood D of Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-7235; map ref. 197833/623429), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y. Tsur, with the assistance of N. Shahami (area supervision), A. Peretz (photography), M. Kahan (surveying), E. Belashov (plans) and D. Levi (GPS).
The kiln was circular (diam. 11.5 m; Fig. 2) and had three main parts: a firing chamber (L100, W109), an outer retaining wall (W101) and a flue (L108).
Only the southwestern half of the firing chamber (L100) was excavated. It was bounded by a curved wall (W109; diam. 4.5 m, max. depth 3 m), built of small and medium fieldstones (35 × 40 × 40 cm), which was set directly on the rock. Once the upper layer of soil and several boulders were removed, a layer of white homogenous lime (Fig. 3) was exposed. A wall (W104; length 2.3 m, width 0.4 m; Fig. 5) comprising a single course of five large fieldstones (30 × 40 × 60 cm) was exposed north of the firing chamber. The wall was probably constructed at a later stage, and served as a retaining wall to the firing chamber. An outer retaining wall (W101; width 0.5 m, diam. 11 m; Fig. 4) encircled the kiln from the east, west and north, and had probably supported a domed superstructure above the firing chamber, which did not survive. The wall was constructed of two rows of medium and large fieldstones (30 × 35 × 35 cm). An accumulation of reddish building material (L105) was excavated between W101 and W109.
The flue (L108; length 3.8 m, width 1 m) was exposed in the western part of the firing chamber. It consisted of two parallel walls, each comprising a single course of small fieldstones (10 × 15 × 15 cm), and was opened to the east and west. The flue was covered with five stone slabs (length 0.4 m, width 1 m), with a fill of small stones between them (Fig. 6). The eastern opening (length 0.6 m, width 0.4 m) was used to convey air into the firing chamber (Fig. 7). The western opening was identical in size to the eastern one. A hewn fieldstone (15 × 30 × 80 cm) to the east of the eastern opening, probably served as a step leading up to the kiln.
The location of the kiln and the flue, in the center of the wadi, made it possible to take advantage of the prevailing winds. The air entered the firing chamber through the built flue, and the heat that was generated during firing apparently drew enough air to create the desired flow. No remains of the domed superstructure survived, because it was partially dismantled so that the stones to be incinerated could be placed inside. Several pottery sherds dating to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods were collected.
It seems that the kiln was operated by the inhabitants of nearby Bet Natif. The installation was far enough from the houses of the village to prevent the smoke from disturbing the local population.