Site 12 (map ref. 217562/634338). A well-preserved limekiln was excavated on the upper third of the southern slope of the valley. The kiln’s retaining walls (width 3.2–3.5 m; Figs. 2, 3) enclosed a firebox (L107; diam. 4 m, depth 3.8 m). A stoke hole for the fuel that fired the kiln was built in the upper part of its western side and a ventilation tunnel that facilitated the uninterrupted flow of oxygen into the firebox was installed in the bottom of the kiln, on a bedrock step (L108; length 5.2 m, width 1.15–1.30 m). Most of the similar installations that were excavated throughout the country have been dated to the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period.
Site 15 (map ref. 217549/634404). The northern half of a small stone clearance heap (3.0 × 3.8 m, height 0.7 m) was excavated and the stone terrace on which it was built was exposed.
Site 13 (map ref. 217493/634444). A simple winepress hewn in a bedrock surface that slopes to the northwest was excavated (Fig. 4). The irregularly shaped treading floor (L110; 1.6 × 2.3 m, depth 3–5 cm) was carelessly hewn and drained into an elliptical collecting vat (L111; 1.0 × 1.2 m, depth 0.4 m). This type of installation is ascribed to the Second Temple period.
Site 14 (map ref. 217459/634456). A complex winepress that included a rectangular treading floor (3.00 × 3.25 m, depth 0.18 m; Figs. 5, 6) hewn in a bedrock step (height 1.5–1.7 m) was excavated. Three rectangular niches, in the east (0.35 × 0.62 m, depth 0.12 m), in the center (0.32 × 0.66 m, depth 0.12 m) and in the west (0.34 × 0.68 m, depth 0.25 m), were hewn in the side of the step. The niches were meant for anchoring the ends of beams, used to suspend weights for pressing the grapes. The niches were probably not all used at the same time. One possibility is that when the eastern niche broke and could no longer be used, the center one was cut; however, its hewing was incomplete as it was located too close to the eastern niche, and then, the western niche was hewn. Another option is that the eastern and western niches were utilized together until the eastern niche could not be used any longer. The treading floor drained into a shallow settling basin (diam. 0.57 m, depth 0.2 m) that was located in the northwestern corner of the floor and the must flowed then to an adjacent hewn elliptical collecting vat (L113; 0.7 × 1.0 m, depth 0.7 m). Winepresses of a similar operating technique and hewing style were dated to the Iron Age.
Site 18 (map ref. 217212/634853). A large stone clearance heap (diam. 11 m, max. height 1.5 m: Figs. 7, 8) was found. Upon removal of the vegetation growing on it, the northeastern quarter of the heap was excavated down to the bedrock terrace level. Several curved walls that were haphazardly built and enclosed the heap in different phases were exposed.
Site 18A (map ref. 217273/634850). A tower and a ritual bath (miqwe) were discovered. The base of a square field tower (L100; 3.2 × 3.2 m, max. height 1.2 m; Figs. 9, 10), built of roughly hewn fieldstones, was exposed; it constitutes the remains of the only structure at the site. A broad wall (W10; length 11 m, width 1.1 m, max. height 0.35 m) adjoined the tower from the south. It was built of two rows of large stones with a core of small stones and delimited a leveled surface to the east. A row of stones (W11; length 14 m, width 1 m, height 0.6 m) delimited the surface from the south. A probe trench (L114; length 13 m) was excavated down to bedrock level, parallel to and west of W10; however, no other walls were found and therefore, the area of the building ca not be estimated.
A ritual bath (1.8 × 2.6 m, depth 2.2 m), which consisted of five steps that descended to the immersion basin, was hewn east of the tower. The bath’s opening (0.7 × 1.0 m) was dressed and plastered, similar to the steps and the walls of the bath, with thick white plaster that was well preserved. The ritual bath is ascribed to the Second Temple period. A leveled bedrock surface with a cupmark in its center (L106; 0.25 × 0.54 m), probably used as a bodeda, was located west of the bath.
A probe was excavated at the connection between Wall 10 and Tower 100 and fragments of pottery vessels dating to the first century BCE were found, among them a plate (Fig. 11:1), a cooking pot (Fig. 11:2), jar rims (Fig. 11:3, 4) and a juglet (Fig. 11:5).
The building remains, ritual bath and ceramic finds are indicative of a small farmstead that was probably in use during the busy agricultural season at the time of the grape and olive harvest.
The uncovered installations were part of the agricultural hinterland of either of two adjacent settlements, Lifta village and H
orbat Bet Telem. To date, no archaeological excavations have been conducted at these sites; however, the ceramic artifacts and the numerous installations that were surveyed in them indicate that they existed in similar periods. A concentration of caves was excavated c. 200 m southwest of the installations; among them was a burial cave with loculi
that probably also belonged to one of the two settlements (HA-ESI 120
The remains represent various periods and show that Jerusalem was surrounded by settlements that provided for the needs of its residents and the many pilgrims who visited it.