In July 2018, a rescue excavation was conducted at the site of Tel Yarmut (South) in Neighborhood D1 in Ramat Bet Shemesh (Permit No. A-8314; map ref. 197478–82/623450–2; Fig. 1) prior to construction work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Hazon and Galili Company Ltd., was conducted by R. Avner (field photography), with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kahan (surveying and drafting) and C. Hersch (pottery drawing).
The excavation was conducted in a cave (Figs. 2, 3) that was used during the Second Temple period. The southwest part of the cave roof had collapsed. The cave is irregularly shaped, and it was probably a natural karstic cavity that was adapted for human use. The bedrock floor (L102) was hewn flat; on the floor were several potsherds mixed with brown soil. The soil was covered with a burnt layer (L101; Fig. 4), which was overlain by a layer of collapsed stones (L100); these probably crumbled from the cave roof when it was burned.
The pottery included an inverted rim of a bowl (Fig. 5:1) and fragments of three cooking pots (Fig. 5:2–4) and of a jug with a ridge on its neck (Fig. 5:5). The vessels date from the Second Temple period (first century BCE – first century CE), except for pot No. 4, which belongs to an earlier, second-century BCE type.
The natural karstic cavity was used during the Second Temple period for some unknown purpose. It is also unclear what caused the fire that led to the cave’s abandonment and sealed the habitation level. The cave was discovered near a site surveyed by Dagan (above), and the installations, which were identified as Byzantine in the survey, may be earlier in date. It is possible that the cave was used as a dwelling by workers employed in the installations.
Eirikh-Rose A. 2017.
Bet Shemesh, Ramat Bet Shemesh D1. HA-ESI 129
Dagan Y. 2010. The Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: The Gazetteer (IAA Reports 46). Jerusalem.