Area A5—The Upper Aqueduct (Fig. 3)
Prior to the excavations, the aqueduct was visible intermittently, its route winding around a small channel north of Ramat Rahel. An agricultural terrace, probably modern, was built along and on top of it (Fig. 4); therefore, the excavation focused on the foot of the aqueduct. The aqueduct was preserved to a maximum height of c. 2 m. The outer face of its foundation, which also served as a retaining wall, was exposed at one spot, but for the most part, only the foundation’s core survived after the outer face was robbed (Fig. 5).
The aqueduct was damaged to the full extent of its height at two spots where it turned sharply to the west. In several places, the water channel (specus) was found on top of the foundation, a few of its sections surviving to its full height (Fig. 6). Such an excellent state of preservation has never been observed before in the Upper Aqueduct. Most of the stones utilized in the construction of the terrace were probably from the new quarries found in the immediate vicinity, where stones were quarried by means of blasting.
Area B (Fig. 7)
An impressive wall was found in one of the trial trenches at a depth of 0.7–1.3 m below the surface. It was oriented north–south, built of medium and large fieldstones and preserved to a height of 1 m (W2, width 0.55–0.90 m, stone dimensions 0.5 × 0.8 m; Figs. 8–10). The wall’s continuation southward, near the Upper Aqueduct, was not preserved; the bedrock there is relatively high, and the wall may have been dismantled to construct the aqueduct. It was exposed to the north (length c. 14 m), where it extended beyond the excavation limits.
The excavation east of the wall reached bedrock at a depth of one meter. The eastern side of the wall was straight and well-built, but the stones were not placed in neatly arranged courses. To the east of the wall was brown soil devoid of stones, which contained a large quantity of pottery from the end of the Iron Age (seventh–beginning of sixth centuries BCE), including bowls (Fig. 11:1, 2), kraters (Fig. 11:3, 4), jars (11:5–7) and a jug (Fig. 11:8). The western face of the wall was coarse, and the fill alongside it consisted of small stones, resembling the fill of an agricultural terrace; it contained several pottery sherds from the same period. West of the southern part of the wall was a concentration of large building stones, 2 m wide, from the eastern face of the wall. This was probably a thickening of the wall or a stone collapse that fell to its side. No other building remains were found to its west. A field wall (W1), probably modern, whose eastern face ‘floated’ on earthen fill, was built irrespective of the earlier wall and its continuation to the north was erected on top of the northern part of W2.
The purpose of Wall 2 is unclear. It most probably was not a terrace wall because it does not follow the contour line, but was rather built almost perpendicular to it; the fine eastern side of the wall faces upslope whereas the western side was poorly constructed. If it is discovered that the wall continues further north, across the breadth of the channel, then it may be a dam. However, the meticulously built side of a dam also faces outward and there is no benefit to be had in locating a dam in a small local channel near the national watershed. No other walls adjoined W2, and it therefore does not appear to be a building. The wall may have been intended to support a structure or a compound situated to its west. There seems to be a connection between it and the royal site dating to the end of the monarchy that was discovered at Ramat Rahel, c. 250 to the south-southeast.
A body fragment of a jar stamped with a lion’s impression was found on the surface (Fig. 12). Only the right-hand portion of the impression was preserved, the lower part is missing. The impression identified on the sherd is the type in which a lion faces left, standing on its two hind paws, its two front paws raised to its sides, with two objects depicted beneath its left front paw. In the past, these items were interpreted as an incense altar. Recently, it has been suggested that they be identified as the profile of a man’s head and a person’s hand next to it (Sass 2010). Stern (1971; 1973:209–210) was the first to discuss lion-stamp impressions, including this type, and he dated all the impressions of this type to the beginning of the Persian period. Lipschits (2010) believes that all the lion-stamp impressions should be dated to the sixth century BCE, based on their distribution, origin, stratigraphy and their symbolic significance, as well as on a detailed typology of the type.
Stern defined three main types of lion impressions. He classified the impression portraying the lion standing on its hind paws, its two front paws spread out to the sides and an object next to it, commonly thought to be an altar, as Type B (Stern 1971:10). In the new corpus of lion impressions (Lipschits 2010), eight main types and two subtypes were defined; the standing lion type was classified as Type 8, and seven seal impressions of this kind are known to date. Four impressions were found at Ramat Rahel: two from Aharoni’s excavation (Aharoni 1964:45–46, Pl. 21:4, 5) and two from the renewed excavations directed by Lipschits, Gadot and Oeming. Three additional seal impressions were discovered at three other sites: Gibeon (Pritchard 1961: Fig. 46, No. 556), the City of David (Ariel and Shoham 2000:137, 141, 143, No. L24) and Nabi Samuel (Magen and Har-Even 2007:45, No. 31). The impression unearthed in the current excavation is the eighth of this type and the fifth from Ramat Rahel (so far, c. 128 lion impressions from the Persian period have been found in Judah, about half of them from Ramat Rahel). Like another seal impression from Ramat Rahel that was discovered on a complete jar, this impression is also unusual in that it was stamped on the body of the vessel rather than on the handle.
The excavation revealed another section of the Upper Aqueduct on its route to Jerusalem, constituting an additional link in our understanding of the planning and course of the water carrier.
The purpose of the Iron Age wall in Area B is unclear. At this stage, it seems that this wall delineated the area to its west. Further examination of the continuation of its route northward and perpendicular to it, to the west, may clarify its purpose.