Previous excavations at the village of Abu Ghosh uncovered buildings, installations and finds from the Neolithic, Roman, Byzantine, Mamluk, Crusader and Ottoman periods (Ben-Ari 2015
; Zilberbod 2007
; Zilberbod 2010
; Khalaily and Barzilai 2007
; 'Adawi 2016
; Ein Mor 2015
; Bommel-Yehuda 2006
; Khalaily and Marder 2003
; Milevsky et al. 2015
). The site is on the edge of Tel Qiryat Ye‘arim, and previous excavations on the tel uncovered remains that are ascribed to the Bronze age and the Iron Age, and to the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (License G-128/1995). A fortress that dates to the fourth century BCE was discovered at Horbat ʿEres, which rises to the north (Mazar and Wachtel 2014
Area A (5 × 10 m). Three strata were identified in this area.
Stratum 1 was topsoil (L100; Fig. 2), a layer of alluvium that yielded fragments of pottery: a stand (Fig. 4:2) and jars dating to the Late Roman period (Fig. 4:3, 4), and a bowl from the Byzantine period (Fig. 4:7). These sherds were apparently washed from an adjacent settlement that was recently excavated (Z. ‘Adawi, pers. comm.).
Stratum 2 (Figs. 2, 3) was characterized by terra rossa soil mixed with numerous pieces of chalk (L104). Two field walls (W101, W107; Fig. 5), on a north–south axis, were exposed; the relationship between them was unclear. Wall 101 was a dry-construction wall built of a single row of fieldstone, and stood at least three courses high. Small and medium stones were piled against the entire length of its eastern part to support it. The wall, which sloped to the west, was apparently damaged by a landslide or an earthquake. The remains of two hearths (L111, L112; Figs. 3, 6) were found next to its western face. It seems that the northern part of W101 abutted W102, of which only several stones survived. Wall 107 (Fig. 5) is a dry-construction wall made of fieldstone, and stood to a height of one course. Small and medium stones were piled against its eastern part to support it. The wall was founded on a shallow terra rossa fill (L109) that was deposited on top of the marl rock. The pottery finds included a bowl (Fig. 4:1) and a jar (Fig. 4:5) from the Late Roman period, and bowls (Fig. 4:6, 8) and a jar (Fig. 4:9) from the Byzantine period.
Stratum 3 (Fig. 3) was exposed east of W101 and was characterized by terra rossa soil mixed with marl (L113, L114). Remains of two walls (W105, W110; Fig. 7) were exposed. Wall 105 was founded directly on top of the marl rock. It was built of medium-size marl stones and rose of a height of at least two courses; parts of the wall were integrated with the foundations of W101. Wall 110 was erected on the marl rock. It was built of medium and large marl stones, and stood at least two courses high. The wall was severely damaged and was buried beneath a later collapse (L106 from Stratum 2; Fig. 2), and only a small section of it survived. There were no finds that date this stratum.
Building 200, which consisted of two rooms (L203, L204; Figs. 8–12), was excavated. Its walls were constructed of large boulders with small and medium fieldstones piled on and between them, similar to the dry construction of the terrace walls (Fig. 13). The floor of the building was an exposed rock surface, which was leveled with small fieldstones and some alluvial soil. The rooms were separated by a partition wall with no opening (W211; Figs. 9, 10). No datable finds were discovered in the structure.
Terrace Wall 214
(Fig. 14) was exposed southwest of Building 200. It was aligned in a southwest–northeast direction and apparently continued along the entire northwestern slope. The wall was preserved to a height of 1.6 m in some places (Fig. 15). It was double-faced, with a core of small, medium and large fieldstones. Trial trenches were excavated either side of it, one in the northeast (L213, L215) and the other in the southwest (L212). The size of the trenches was determined by the overgrown terrain. They revealed that the wall was founded directly on the rock, and a typical fill of terra rossa soil mixed with small and medium stones was piled on either side of it (Figs. 16, 17). Fills of soil mixed with stones are characteristic of the agricultural terraces in a mountainous setting, because they allow excess water to drain efficiently, ensuring the stability of the terraces (Gibson 2011
The finds that were discovered in the excavation were of agricultural nature. Those revealed in Area A suggest that the site was part of the agricultural periphery of the ancient settlement that is situated at Tel Qiryat Ye‘arim and its surroundings. The field walls of Stratum 2 had no context, and it was not possible to determine the context of the walls of Stratum 3 either, because they were poorly preserved and only partially exposed. Most of the finds from the building in Area B are modern refuse. The building was probably used by the farmers who cultivated the agricultural terraces that are scattered around the site, and may have been used as temporary storage and possibly also for sleeping.