During January 2008, the sixth season of excavations was conducted at the ‘En Gedi oasis (License No. G-1/2008; map ref. NIG 23708/59690; OIG 18708/09690; HA-ESI 118
). The excavation, carried out under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and financed by private contributions and foundations from Israel and abroad, was directed by G. Hadas, with the assistance of R. Merhav (administration), D. Porotzky (surveying and drafting), O. Mazar (pottery restoration) and A. de Vincenz (pottery reading). Volunteers from the country and abroad, most of whom took part in previous seasons, participated in the excavation.
The Southern House
. A large courtyard (L6001; Figs. 1, 2) that accessed two rooms located to its north was exposed. Near the opening to the rooms was a stove and two ovens were discovered in the northwestern corner of the courtyard. Below the courtyard floor, at a depth of c. 0.5 m, the tops of walls that belonged to an earlier building, whose plan was slightly different than that of the southern house, were exposed. It seems that the stones used for the walls of the southern house were taken from the earlier building below it.
The excavation of the western room (L6011; Fig. 3) was completed. Some twelve cooking vessels were found, including pots, jugs and a large jar buried in the floor, the likes of which had been discovered in the previous season in the adjacent eastern room. Several floors were excavated in the eastern room and below them were walls that probably belonged to the earlier building (Loci 6031, 6044). The finds from below the floors included many pieces of charred wood, ash and animal bones.
The Key House. The exposure of the courtyard floor (Locus 6026) of the Key House, north of the southern house, continued. A large flat basalt block that probably served as a work table was found on the floor of the courtyard. Several shattered jars were discovered next to the oven in the southwestern corner of the courtyard. A large concentration of charred wood was exposed in the southeastern corner of the courtyard; next to it, several cooking pots, a section of a ceramic pipe and two fragments of soft limestone large jars were found near the basalt block. Many iron nails were located near the opening to the front courtyard (Locus 5024).
The Zuqim House (L6029). The exposure of the floor was completed and that of the alley, running north–south between the Zuqim House block and the western row of houses, continued. The exposure of the buildings in the area of the slope, east of the alley (Fig. 4), had begun.
Among the artifacts recovered from the excavation were c. 60 coins, a fragment of a tiny lead anchor, similar to the one discovered during the previous season, an alabaster cosmetic bowl fragment and fragments of soft limestone vessels that are characteristic of the period. The two large jar fragments from the Key House joined the small fragments of large limestone jars that were retrieved from this house during the previous season. All the finds date the settlement to the end of the Second Temple period. Conservation measures were implemented during the course of the excavation.