During December 2002, January and March–April 2003 a salvage excavation was conducted on the southern ridge of the Mount of Olives (Permit No. A-3792; map ref. NIG 22370–78/63122–30; OIG 17370–78/13122–30). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Jerusalem municipality, was directed by N. Feig, with the assistance of T. De‘adle and B. Touri, A. Hajian (surveying), C. Amit and M. Salzberger (photography).
The remains of rock cuttings and caves, one of which was probably used for burial and the other had a building within it, were discovered (Fig. 1). The remains were dated to the Iron Age based on the finds.
. A rectangular rock cutting (2 × 11 m), as well as other nearby rock cuttings and hewn recesses, was exposed in the southern part of the site. It was probably a quarry. Close by was a hewn cave, consisting of a square chamber (3 × 3 m) that had neither kokhim nor arcosolia and perhaps served for burial. It was devoid of any finds that might indicate its date. Fronting the cave was a rock-hewn courtyard (2.00 × 2.75 m) that probably served for internments, concomitant with the cave dwelling behind.
. A natural cave whose ceiling collapsed and its eastern wall survived was found (Fig. 2). A building (7.25 × 7.50 m; Fig. 3) whose walls were preserved c. 1.0–1.2 m high was erected inside it. The building’s entrance was in the northeastern corner and benches were built and hewn along the interior of the walls. A circular installation (diam. 1.8 m; Fig. 4) whose use is unclear was next to its western corner. Following the partial collapse of the cave’s ceiling the northwestern corner of the building was covered with fill and above the northwestern part of Wall 3, curved retaining walls (W1, W2) were built to support the ceiling of the cave and its walls. Several steps descended to a fieldstone-paved alcove that was leaning on the northern wall (W4) of the building. The western wall of the alcove (W5) was built above W4. The location of the entrance and the high bedrock level indicate that the entrance to the cave was in the north.
The artifacts recovered from the building included jars, cooking pots, kraters, a variety of bowls and lamps. These indicate that the building was used as a dwelling, dating to the Iron Age, namely the eighth century BCE.