During November 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Har Homa neighborhood in southern Jerusalem (Permit No. A-4933*; map ref. NIG 221428–40/626086–97; OIG 171428–40/126086–97), prior to paving a road. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, was directed by Z. ‘Adawi, with the assistance of R. Abu Halaf (administration), T. Kornfeld (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), A. Nagar (GPS), S. al-Amlah (metal detection) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
A winepress and a nearby underground cavity were discovered on a northern slope of Giv‘at Homa, where agricultural installations and farming terraces had previously been found (Kloner A, 2000, Survey of Jerusalem, the Southern Sector, Sites 129, 131). A monastery from the Byzantine period was excavated at the top of the hill (Jebel Abu Ghunneim) and to the southwest, at Khirbat el-Qatt, another monastery was explored (Survey of Jerusalem, the Southern Sector, Sites 128, 130). A more recent survey was conducted at the site (HA-ESI 110:95*) and a salvage excavation was undertaken at the Christian settlement Khirbat Umm Tuba, to the northeast of the site (Permit No. A-4397).
The winepress, cut on a moderate bedrock slope, consisted of a square treading floor (L100; 5.0 × 5.5 m; Fig. 1) that was carelessly hewn at a gentle angle toward the north. The leveling of the floor was meticulous and it was probably paved with a mosaic, as evidenced by the tesserae in the fill that covered it. Part of its eastern side did not survive probably due to the erosion of bedrock. North of the treading floor were two collecting vats (Loci 103, 104; width 1.5 m, depth 1.5–1.8 m) whose sides were coated with gray plaster (thickness 2 cm) that was composed of chalk, ash, marl, and fine gravel. The western vat (L103) had a step, c. 0.5 m above its floor. A niche (0.2 × 0.2 m, depth 0.1 m) was hewn in the upper southern side of the eastern vat (L104). The relationship between the collecting vats was unclear and only the Vat 103 was connected to the treading floor by means of a shallow channel (width 0.2–0.3 m, depth 0.1–0.3 m). A shelf (L105; 1.0 × 6.3 m; Fig. 2) was discovered above the southern side of the treading floor. It continued above the southern part of the western side, whose northern side was made level (L101). It seems that the shelf and the leveled bedrock was the area for placing the grapes prior to pressing.
The winepress was covered with alluvium that originated farther up the slope (L102); it contained modern objects and a small bronze coin of the Byzantine ruler Honorius (408–423 CE; IAA 115108).
The underground cavity (L200) was hewn in bedrock, c. 7.5 m southeast of the winepress. The cavity, which was not excavated, included a rectangular shaft (0.55 × 1.15 m, depth 0.6–1.1 m) and a central chamber (1.75 × 2.60 m, 1 m height to top of fill in its bottom). Most of the chamber’s walls and ceiling had collapsed.
No datable finds were discovered in the winepress and it seems that the provenance of the coin in the alluvium was the Byzantine monastery at the top of the hill. No datable artifacts were revealed in the cavity, which apparently served as an arcosolium
These remains should probably be considered part of the installations that belonged to the local monasteries or the settlement at Khirbat Umm Tuba, although it is possible they had predated them.