An area (7×10 m) was opened and a watchman’s hut and terrace that date to the Ottoman period (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE) were excavated.
The watchman’s hut (W602; Figs. 3, 4), built of medium and large fieldstones placed on the bedrock, was preserved three–eight courses high. The structure was entered from the northeast by way of a step (0.31×0.58×0.58 m); the door was apparently made of wood and was not preserved. A natural bedrock step (0.25×0.70×2.16 m; Fig. 5) was discovered in the western part of the hut, and a depression hewn in the bedrock was exposed at the southeastern end (diam. 0.48, depth 0.08 m). A forty para copper coin of Sultan Abd al-Majid from the year 1855/6 CE was found in the watchman’s hut (L106).
An open area on a bedrock surface (L111, L112; Fig. 6), probably used as a courtyard, was discovered north of the watchman’s hut. The courtyard was accessed by way of two natural bedrock steps (bottom step 0.30×0.30×2.03 m, top step 0.30×0.30×2.12 m). Two other bedrock steps (bottom step 0.44×0.55×1.97 m, top step 0.18×0.44×1.64 m) were revealed at the western end of the courtyard. A wall (W603; length 5.2 m, width 0.6–0.9 m) composed of fieldstones and brown soil fill was built on the upper bedrock step. Wall 603 was preserved four courses high in the east and a dozen courses in the west; it abutted the northern side of watchman’s hut wall. A heap of fieldstones (L114) delimited the courtyard from the north. The walls of the watchman’s hut and the terrace were adjoined from the south by another terrace wall (W601; length 5.2 m, width 0.6 m) built of medium-sized fieldstones and preserved ten courses high. A five para copper coin, dating to the reign of Sultan Abed Al-Aziz (1861–1876 CE), was found east of W601 and to its west (L104), a fals of Sultan Barquq from the Damascus mint, dating to the year 1388 CE (IAA 141287), was found.
A small concentration of cooking, storage and serving vessels was discovered in the courtyard, indicating that meals were taken there, as well as a small decorated fragment of a hookah bowl (Fig. 7:11) and a Levantine-type horseshoe (Taxel I. 2009. Khirbet Es-Suyyagh [Salvage Excavation Reports 6]. Tel Aviv, p. 158) that point to other activities taking place there.
The ceramic finds included a carinated bowl (Fig. 7:1), a bowl with a curved everted rim (Fig. 7:3) and a jar with a spout (Fig. 7:8, 9), all of which are Gaza ware, and a carinated bowl of reddish brown fabric (Fig. 7:2), dating to the Late Ottoman period (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE). In addition, types of vessels that first appear in the Mamluk period and continue into the Ottoman period were discovered, such as a handmade basin with a thick folded-out rim and a collar, whose bottom is wavy rather than straight, as on the Mamluk types (Fig. 7:4), a cooking pot with elephant ears and a grooved slightly everted rim (Fig. 7:5), a holemouth cooking pot decorated with delicate lines of punctures along the outer rim and on the horizontal handles (Fig. 7:6, 7), and a small complete jar (Fig. 7:10).
Fragments of glazed Mamluk pottery vessels dating from the mid-twelfth to mid-thirteenth centuries CE, which were evidently not in situ, were also found. These included Slip-Painted Ware bowls (Fig. 8:1, 5), Monochrome Glazed II sherds (Fig. 8:3, 7, 8), Handmade Geometric Painted Ware bowl (Fig. 8:2) and jar (Fig. 8:6), and a ring-base from a Sgraffito bowl with finely incised lines (Fig. 8:4) dating from the thirteenth century CE.
A half square was excavated and a section of a terrace wall (W801; width 1.1 m; Fig. 9), founded on a natural bedrock terrace, was uncovered. The wall, preserved eight courses high, was built of medium-sized fieldstones and brown soil fill. Several potsherds, of which only one painted Mamluk sherd could be dated (Fig. 8:6), were found. Presumably, the terrace existed together with the terrace and the watchman’s hut that were excavated in Area A.
The excavation areas were located on a slope and no clean loci were excavated; hence, it could not be determined with certainty when the watchman’s hut and the farming terraces were in use. Since most of the recovered pottery dated to the Ottoman period and only a few potsherds dated to the Mamluk period, it can reasonably be assumed that the hut and terraces were used in the eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE. It seems that the remains were used by the villagers living in Beit Tolma, which existed in sixteenth–nineteenth centuries CE, and atop of whose ruins the Jewish settlement of ‘Enot Telem was built (D. Grossman. 1994. The Arab Village and its Daughters. Jerusalem; p. 236) or by the villagers from Beit Iksa, located c. 1.5 km northwest of the site. Beit Iksa existed from the fifth century CE and there is evidence of activity there in the nineteenth century CE (Sharon M. 1999. Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae Vol. 2. Leiden; pp. 105–106).