In December 2008 – January 2009, a trial excavation was conducted at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-5563; map ref. 216483–507/627938–61; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a bridge. The excavated remains were first discovered in trial trenches dug by A. Kohn-Tavor. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and, was directed by A. Eirikh-Rose (photography), with the assistance of M. Kunin (surveying and drawing), E. Eisenberg (scientific consultation), Y. Ohayon and R. Abu Halaf (administration), C. Hersch (pottery drawing) and laborers from the Mevasseret Zion absorption center.
The site, situated on the north bank of Nahal Refa’im, is located in streambed cut into the Moza Formation, whose erosion formed a moderate landscape of broad terraces suitable for habitation and cultivation.
The excavation exposed remains of a settlement which extends throughout the zoo (c. 50 dunams) and was excavated in the past (Eisenberg 1993
; Permit No. A-1934). In the current excavation, a square was opened c. 30 m west of Area 200 in Eisenberg’s excavations (Figs. 2, 3).
Remains of two rooms separated by a wall and connected by a stairway were exposed. The wall (W1; length c. 5 m, width c. 0.5 m), oriented in a northwest–southeast direction, crossed the excavation square; its northern part was slightly destroyed. A single course was preserved; it was built on a foundation of relatively small fieldstones (15 × 20 cm) that were arranged in several parallel rows. The course that survived was constructed of one row of large fieldstones (c. 0.3 × 0.5 m) placed widthwise, in a header-like fashion (Fig. 4). It thus appears that this was a retaining wall with one relatively well-finished face. A staircase consisting of three stone steps (L109; Fig. 5) ran perpendicular to the wall, to its east. It seems that the floor in the room to the west of the wall was not preserved, and that the steps connected the two rooms, whose floors were on different levels. The stairs led down into the lower room, where stone slabs presumably served to level the irregular bedrock floor (L107). Elsewhere in the room, the floor was leveled with tamped earth. At least two large broken pottery vessels were found on the floor next to the stairs (L110, Fig. 6; L111). A massive stone collapse that filled the room indicates that the building was constructed of stone.
A small amount of pottery sherds dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age, including a jar adorned with rope ornamentation (Fig. 7:1), was found in mixed fills and in fills outside the rooms; it seems that these sherds are not related to the architecture. Pottery dating to the MB IIB was found on the floor of the lower room (L107), suggesting that the wall and the stairs leaning against it were built during this period. The sherds included a deep bowl with straight walls and a round, everted rim decorated on the outside with a wavy plastic decoration (Fig. 7:2); fragments of a juglet (not drawn); a holemouth (Fig. 7:3); jars with flaring rims, including a jar with a folded rim (Fig. 7:4) and a jar with a ridge in the middle of its neck (Fig. 7:5); as well as a storage jar with a long, slightly everted cut rim and a ridge around its neck (Fig. 7:6). Most of the ceramic finds (8 out of 12 rims) were jars. Stone objects were also discovered; these included pounders made of flint and hard limestone, part of a rectangular grinding stone and flint items, consisting mainly of flakes. The excavation finds are similar to those previously discovered at the site (Eisenberg 1993) and at Manahat, located c. 0.5 km to the east (Edelstein, Milevski and Aurant 1998).
The architectural remains uncovered in the excavation were aligned in the same orientation as the long walls in the buildings previously exposed in Area 200 (Eisenberg 1993). It therefore seems that they were part of the Intermediate Bronze Age and Middle Bronze Age IIB settlement. The relatively large number of storage jar may indicate that the room was used for storage.
Edelstein G., Milevski I. and Aurant S. 1998. Villages, Terraces, and Stone Mounds: Excavations at Manahat, Jerusalem, 1987–1989 (IAA Reports 3). Jerusalem.
Eisenberg E. 1993. Nahal Rephaim—A Bronze Age Village in Southwestern Jerusalem. Qadmoniot 103–104:82–95 (Hebrew).