During January 2005 a burial cave was documented on the southern slope of Kh. ‘Addasa, north of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-4438*; map ref. NIG 22040/63925; OIG 17040/13925), after it was breached by tomb robbers. The cave was not excavated. The documentation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was performed by Y. Baruch and A. Ganor, with the assistance of R. Kehati, A. Hofesh, T. Shipman and C. Hersch (drawing). The tomb was sealed by S. Fried, inspector of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, upon completion of the documentation.
At the top of the hill is a large massive building; numerous remains are spread across its slopes. At the foot of the hill to the east is the Roman road that reaches Jerusalem from the north. Many potsherds that range in date from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages are scattered throughout the area. Some nineteenth-century scholars identified the site with biblical Gibeah, the city of King Saul, before it was identified with Tell el-Fûl. The site was examined in the Survey of Western Palestine (Conder and Kitchener 1881–1883, III:105–106) and in the Survey of Jerusalem (A. Kloner 2002, Survey of Jerusalem – The Northeastern Sector: Site 4).
The burial cave is located on the southern slope of the site; next to it are other tombs, cave dwellings, rock-hewn installations and ancient terraces. The cave was roughly hewn in the soft chalk bedrock using a broad chisel (width 2–3 cm). Tomb robbers plundered the contents of the cave, mixed the human bones in the soil fill and scattered them in and outside the cave. The poorly preserved bones were those of adult individuals. Artifacts that indicate the tomb was used in the first and second centuries CE were found .
An open hewn courtyard (1.5 × 2.2 m; Fig. 1) is found at the front of the tomb, to the south. A rock-hewn, trapezoidal opening (0.4 × 0.5 × 0.5 m) in the center of the courtyard’s northern wall is set within a sunken rectangular frame (width 0.25 m) on three sides, except for the bottom. A sealing stone (0.6 × 0.8 m) that was compatible to the dimensions of the opening was lying nearby. The opening leads to a burial chamber (2.5 × 3.0 m), in whose center is a square standing pit (1.2 × 1.2 m) flanked by broad surfaces (width 0.87 m). In the chamber’s western wall, two elongated kokhim (c. 0.40 × 1.75 × 0.80 m) with arched openings, enclosed within a sunken rectangular frame (width 0.15-0.20 m), were hewn. A single hewn kokh (0.40 × 1.75 × 0.86 m), surrounded by a similar frame, is cut in the northern wall and another kokh (0.40 × 2.00 × 0.78 m), also surrounded by a frame, is in the eastern wall. It is apparent that an attempt to hew another kokh in this wall was undertaken, yet never completed. The openings of the kokhim were sealed with stone slabs discovered lying inside the cave. The slabs (0.50 × 0.90, thickness 0.11 m) were removed from the openings by the tomb robbers, breaking one of them.
A complete ossuary (0.40 × 0.98 × 0.45 m; lid dimensions 0.38 × 0.62 m; Fig. 2) made of hard limestone was found; it has thick walls that are smooth and undecorated. It stands on four small legs and is closed by means of a thick lid set in a sunken frame. Elongated slots at both ends of the ossuary aided in lifting the lid and putting it in place. Two thin lids (0.17 × 0.37 m; 0.21 × 0.46 m) made of soft limestone belong to looted ossuaries. A few pottery vessels were discovered, some complete and a few broken, including cooking pots (Fig. 3), juglets, and lamps (Fig. 4), as well as the base of a glass jug and an iron nail.
The plan of the tomb and the assemblage of artifacts indicate that the burial cave was used by Jews during the first–second centuries CE. The tomb was also used after the destruction of the Second Temple, as evidenced by the thick stone ossuary, the Southern-type oil lamps and a discus lamp, all of which date to the end of the first century–beginning of the second century CE. This points to a Jewish settlement north of Jerusalem that existed after the destruction of the Second Temple, at least until the time of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt.