During April 1999 a salvage excavation was conducted at Rujum Pik (Permit No. A-3037*; map ref. NIG 26828/74474; OIG 21828/24474) after its northeastern corner was damaged in the wake of paving a road. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Hartal, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
A system of walls, built of fieldstones and roughly hewn stones (Fig. 1), was discerned on surface, along the fringes of the site. The walls, set on virgin soil, were preserved a single course high. A corner of two walls (Area A; W6, W7; Fig. 2) was exposed in the section damaged by the road paving. The walls, built of poor quality large fieldstones (1.3 and 1.0 m thick respectively), were set directly on bedrock that was covered with a shallow layer of soil (L203), which contained potsherds from the Late Roman period, including cooking bowls (Fig. 3:3, 4) and cooking pots (Fig. 3:9, 10). Fragments of other contemporary jars (Fig. 3:11–13) were found in a bedrock hollow (L204) below the foundation of W7.
The nature of the walls and their diffusion in the area indicates they were used as fences or courtyards rather than as parts of buildings. The ceramic finds date the walls to the fourth century CE.
A square structure (9.5 × 10.0 m; Area B; Fig. 4) whose walls were built of two rows of roughly hewn stones with a core of small stones (W1–W4 thickness 0.95 m) was erected west of Area A and over the walls that continued the system of walls in the area. Walls 2 and 4 were well-preserved and stood two courses high (0.7 m). The two corners of the northern wall (W1) were destroyed down to its foundation course (0.8–1.0 m wide). The building’s entrances were probably in this wall.
The southwestern end of W3 (2.7 m long) was completely destroyed; however, remains of its outer facade were preserved, including a very thick layer of white plaster that was mixed with small fieldstones (0.25 m thick at the bottom). Similar plaster remains were found in the southeastern corner of the building, yet no plaster was traced on the interior side of the building.
The fieldstone pavement covered the entire building, which was partitioned lengthwise by a wall (W5; 1.2 m thick) in whose center was a doorway (1.1 m wide) that opened into two rooms. The doorjambs consisted of roughly hewn stones of a better quality than the stones used for the walls.
The ceramic finds in the building were meager and included cooking bowls (Fig. 3:5, 6) and cooking pots (Fig. 3:7, 8). On the floor in the northwest of the building (L109) was a small concentration of potsherds, composed of frying pans (Fig. 3:1, 2), a jar (Fig. 3:14) and a lamp with two nozzles (Fig. 3:15).
The ceramic finds date the structure to the fourth century CE. Its use is unclear, but judging by the thick plaster that covered its exterior, which was meant to seal out moisture, it was probably used for storage, possibly a granary.
A similar structure was found in a survey conducted on the northern fringes of the site by E. Kalmachter. It was partly built below surface, coated with a thick layer of plaster on the exterior and it probably also served for storage, perhaps a granary.
Remains from the late Roman and Byzantine periods were discovered in surveys at the site.
The excavation results indicate that the settlement reached its zenith in the fourth century CE. Since no remains from the Byzantine period were found it would seem that the occupation area was reduced at this time.