During May and August 2002 two burial caves were documented on the eastern and western slopes of Tell el-Ful (Giv‘at Sha’ul; map ref. NIG 22185/67223, 22223/63674; OIG 17185/13678, 17223/13674), in the wake of damage caused by mechanical equipment during development work. The documentation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was performed by Z. Adawi, assisted by T. De‘adle, B. Touri, A. Hajian (surveying), D. Weiss and L. Barda (GPS).
The caves are hewn in soft limestone bedrock. The eastern cave (Fig. 1) consisted of a rectangular entrance shaft (0.70 × 1.75 m, height 0.9 m) and a single burial chamber. The western wall of the cave was partly damaged during the development work, whereas the northern wall was completely destroyed. Two steps were hewn in the entrance to the shaft that was covered with three stone slabs and led to an entrance (0.50 × 0.57 m), alongside which was a closing stone slab, in situ. Two rock-hewn steps descended from the entrance to the burial chamber, in whose southern and western walls were two preserved arcosolia, each containing two burial troughs. Another arcosolium and burial troughs may have been hewn in the northern wall. The troughs in the southern arcosolium were preserved in their entirety (0.55 × 1.70 m, depth 0.5 m). The arcosolium’s ceiling on the western side was arched, probably where the head of the deceased was placed. Fragmented human bones were discovered in the fill on the bottom of the cave. The cave is dated to the Byzantine period, based on its plan.
The western cave included a rectangular burial chamber (2.1 × 2.9 m, average height 1.9 m; Fig. 2) whose western wall was destroyed by development work. The entrance to the cave was not preserved, but seems to have been originally in the western wall. An arcosolium with two troughs (average size 0.6 × 2.1 m, depth 0.3–0.6 m) was hewn in each of the northern, southern and eastern walls of the cave. The troughs were provided with raised hewn supports for the head of the deceased (0.3 × 0.6 m). The ceramic finds from the cave included lamp fragments from the Byzantine (fourth–seventh centuries CE) and Umayyad periods (eighth century CE). Based on its plan, it seems the cave was hewn in the Byzantine period and may have continued to be used in the Umayyad period.