In May 2014, an excavation was conducted in Neighborhood C2 in Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-7097; map ref. 199437-69/623314-79; Fig. 1), prior to development works. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by N. German, with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kunin (surveying and drafting) and A. Peretz (field photography).
Area A (Fig. 3). A rock-hewn cistern equipped with two openings (L100—diam. 0.4 m, depth 1.2 m; L101—diam. 0.5 m, min. depth 1.3 m; Fig. 4) was excavated. Dressed stones in secondary use covered the rims of the cistern. The cistern was filled with water and thus was not excavated to its bottom. Two water basins hewn in boulders (L102, L103; Fig. 5) were revealed south of the openings. The basins were set on a leveled surface of rock-cutting debris created from quarrying the cistern. Numerous field walls were visible near the cistern, two of them were excavated (W1, W2); no datable artifacts were found.
Area B (Fig. 6). A rock-hewn ritual bath (miqwe), entirely plastered, was exposed (Fig. 7). The bath included a staircase consisting of six steps (L204) that led south to an immersion pool (L208; 2.5 × 3.0 m, max. depth 1.8 m). In the eastern side of the upper step was a socket for a door hinge. An unsuccessful attempt was made to date the plaster in the bath by means of C14 analysis (Fig. 8). Pottery sherds attributed to the time of the Second Temple were discovered near the bath. The plan of the bath and the sherds found nearby indicate that the installation dates to the Second Temple period. The ritual bath went out of use when the cistern was hewn (diam. c. 1.5 m), which resulted in damage to the two lowest steps and the bottom of the bath. A niche (L209; length c. 1 m, width 0.5 m) was hewn in the western wall of the ritual bath, at the elevation of the bottom step. No plaster remains were revealed in the cistern or the niche; thus, it seems that they were hewn at the same time and that they were incompletely quarried.
Area C (Fig. 9). A rock-cut bell-shaped cistern (L300; bottom diam. c. 2.5 m, depth c. 4 m; Figs. 10, 11) was exposed; it had been treated with modern plaster. The main circular opening (diam. 0.5 m, depth 0.5 m) was discovered at the top of the cistern and another semicircular opening, blocked by fieldstones, was found slightly west of the main opening. A leveled surface of quarrying debris that had been removed from the cistern was observed around the opening at the top of the cistern. Field walls were documented near the installation.
The two cisterns were probably originally hewn to serve ancient settlements located nearby, and they continue to be used today by local shepherds. Leveled surfaces of quarrying debris and numerous field walls were found next to them. The ritual bath discovered in the agricultural hinterland is one of numerous installations and tombs, and it apparently served a Jewish population for activity that occurred outside the settlement.
Dagan Y. 2010. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: The Gazetteer
(IAA Reports 46). Jerusalem.
Dagan Y. 2011. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: Landscapes of Settlement: From the Paleolithic to the Ottoman Periods (IAA Reports 47). Jerusalem.