In January 2016, a salvage excavation was conducted in the eastern City Center Compound of Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-7591; map ref. 198711/624174; Fig. 1), in an area slated for construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by A. Shmuel, was directed by I. Zilberbod, with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), A. Peretz (photography), M. Kahan and E. Belashov (surveying and drafting).
Three adjacent areas were opened, yielding rock-hewn installations (F1, F3) and a burial cave (F2).
Area F1. In the northwestern part of the excavation remains of a small quarry were identified on the surface (Figs. 2, 3). Two quarrying steps (L15, L18; c. 3 × 5 m, height 0.2–0.4 m) were preserved on a hewn nari outcrop. A large boulder bearing no rock-cutting marks was situated in the northern part of the quarry. A rock-hewn bodeda (Figs. 2, 4) was discovered c. 1 m east of the quarry. It consisted of a shallow, round treading floor (L11; diam. c. 1.5 m, depth c. 0.15 m) connected by a hewn channel (L16; 0.1 × 0.2 m, depth c. 0.1 m) to an elliptical vat for collecting liquid (L12; 0.70 × 1.15 m, depth c. 0.25 m). A circular sump (L13; diam. 0.15 m, depth 0.2 m) was hewn at the bottom of the vat. Approximately 1.5 m northeast of the bodeda was a small hewn cupmark (L14; diam. and depth c. 0.2 m; Figs. 2, 5). No datable finds were discovered in the area.
Area F2 (Figs. 2, 6, 7). An entrance to a cave (L20; c. 1.5 × 1.5 m) was revealed c. 8 m southeast of Area F1. Three rock-cut steps (L21; width c. 1.5 m, rise and run 0.2–0.4 m) led north toward the cave. The cave’s interior was elliptical (L22; c. 5.5 × 7.0 m); it was full up a height of 1.5 m from the ceiling with a layer of soil and small stones (L23). The fill was partially excavated (depth c. 1 m). Two niches (L25, L26; each width c. 0.5 m, height 0.25 m, depth c. 0.4 m) were hewn, one in the western wall and one in the eastern walls. A quarrying line that was probably the beginning of a niche (L27) was discerned on the northern wall of the cave, c. 1 m from the ceiling; remains of human bones (L24) covered with soil and medium-sized stones were discovered slightly west of it. The excavation was suspended at that point without having exposed the floor of the cave due to Ultra-Orthodox opposition. Several fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period were discovered in the layer of soil and stones; nevertheless, the artifacts were insufficient in order to date the installation of the cave or the use of it.
Area F3 (Fig. 2). Approximately 5 m southwest of the burial cave was a fractured bedrock surface (L19; c. 2.0 × 3.5 m, depth c. 0.15 m). This was evidently the treading floor of a small winepress; it was partially hewn and in part consisted of natural depressions in the nari bedrock. The other components of the winepress were not preserved due to the collapse of the bedrock. Its plan is unclear, and no datable artifacts were discovered.