The excavations were conducted on a hill on the southwestern fringes of Khirbat Beit Mazmil, north of a local road between Jerusalem and ‘En Kerem. Previous surveys of the site documented architectural remains and quarries, as well as agricultural installations, a water reservoir and burial caves from the Roman period (Guérin 1868:82–83; Conder and Kitchener 1883:108; Kloner 2003:129*–130*, Sites 158–164; Levi 2012). An excavation at the site in 2011 uncovered a water cistern on its western edge that contained meager pottery finds from the Roman, Byzantine and Mamluk periods (Levi 2012; Fig. 1: A-6139). A survey of the ruins conducted during the 2011 excavation documented a ruined building and a miqveh (ritual bath) cut into by a cistern and collected pottery attributed to the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. Excavations in the center of the site in 2012 and 2013 unearthed installations, collecting vats and part of a building from the Byzantine period, and remains of a Mamluk farmstead (Storchan and Dolinka 2014; Storchan, pers. comm.; Fig. 1: A-6507, A-6719). A survey and large-scale excavation begun in 2016 to the north of the current excavation area uncovered the remains of a Byzantine building, Umayyad reservoirs, a rural settlement with a farmstead from the Mamluk period, and settlement remains dating from the Crusader to the Ottoman periods (Fig. 1: Walker and Dolinka’s excavation; S-555/2015, G-73/2015, G-18/2017, G-24/2018, G-25/2018).
The current excavations opened seven excavation squares (S1–7) that contain settlement remains from the Byzantine (Stratum III), early Ottoman (Stratum II) and late Ottoman (Stratum I) periods. A large stone heap lies to the northeast of the excavation area (Area A1 in Walker and Dolinka’s excavation).
Stratum III—Byzantine Period
In the east part of the excavation area, a segment of mosaic paving (L1; 1.0 × 1.2 m; Fig. 3) is made of coarse tesserae (1–2 × 1–3 cm, c. 25 tesserae per sq decimeter). The mosaic floor was probably belonged to a structure or an industrial installation. A field wall (W302; Fig. 4) built of a single row of fieldstones and preserved to a height of one course was unearthed in the center of the excavation area. Both the floor and the wall were founded directly on top of the bedrock.
Stratum II—Early Ottoman Period
The excavation uncovered two buildings, western and eastern, and the remains of an installation in the north of the area.
The Western Building. The squares in the center of the excavation area (S2, S6) contained the wide foundations of three walls (W2–W4; width c. 3 m; Fig. 5) enclosing a rectangular or square room (L205) paved with stone slabs (L3). The room’s southern wall was not preserved, having apparently been damaged by development work prior to the excavation. Walls 2–4 probably supported a vaulted ceiling and possibly a second floor. Meager pottery finds from the early Ottoman period (seventeenth century CE) and a coin from the beginning of the Ottoman period were found beneath the flooring in Room 205 (L206). Finds from the same period were recovered from the room’s soil fills (L204). To the north of the corner of Walls 2 and 3 was another wall (W6; Fig. 6) comprising two rows of stones (W405, W407), which form a corner. Wall 6 was partially excavated and is probably part of a large building that extends eastward. A wall (W5) to the west of the building’s northwest corner similarly comprises of two rows of fieldstones (W501, W604) preserved to a height of three courses. A coarse stone paving (L4) between the corner of the building and W5 abuts W5 and the west face of W4 (Fig. 7). Wall 5 was probably built to separate the building from the land to the west, beyond the excavation area.
The Eastern Building. Square 1 in the east pat of the excavation area contains three walls of a square room (W102, W108, W112; 1.4 × 1.5 m; Fig. 8). The walls are built of two rows of fieldstones with a fill of earth and small stones (5–10 × 5–15 cm). The room’s northern wall was not excavated, and it probably lies beneath the more recent stone heap. The room is built on a stone foundation (L701) delimited on the west by a wall (W711). A staircase comprising four steps (L710; step rise 0.35 m, width 0.8 m; Fig. 9) was found on the room’s southwestern side. To the west of the steps were the remains of a abun (L713; not excavated) containing ash. The room contained a surface of tamped earth mixed with white chalk (thickness c. 0.2 m; Fig. 8), possibly a floor. The earthen surface lay on a leveled bedrock outcrop. Alluvial sediments (L110, L113, L114) inside the room yielded pottery attributed to the Ayyubid period and the early Ottoman period (seventeenth century CE). The room may have been part of a field tower.
Installation. Sq 4, in the northern part of the excavation area, yielded the remains of a circular installation (diam. c. 2 m, height 0.3 m; Fig. 10) built of a single row of fieldstones (W403) on terra-rossa soil (L400, L402). The soil here yielded pottery from the later part of the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE) and the early Ottoman period. The installation contained a layer of ash (L401; thickness c. 0.3 m) with meager pottery dated to the early Islamic period (seventh–eighth centuries CE). The installation may be a abun.
Stratum I—Late Ottoman Period
A large heap of stones (c. 8 × 15 m, height c. 5 m; Figs. 5, 10) lies to the north of Sq 1, beyond the excavation area; the heap may cover the continuation of the architectural remains from Stratum III in Sq 1. It contains stones of various sizes (0.1–0.4 × 0.1–0.5 m) without bonding material. The stone heap is enclosed on the west by a wall (W1)—the continuation of a retaining wall (W100) found in Walker and Dolinka’s excavations to the north of the current excavation area. Two sections with different building styles were discerned in the wall, indicating two construction phases. The wall probably bordered on the farmstead and the Ottoman settlement, the remains of which were previously uncovered to the northeast of the current excavation area. The wall’s southern section is founded on W711 from Stratum II.
The stone heap covers architectural remains from Stratum II, rendering them obsolete. As Stratum II is dated according to the pottery to the early Ottoman period (seventeenth century CE), the stone heap was evidently piled after the buildings were abandoned, probably at the end of the Ottoman period.
The excavation discovered settlement remains belonging to the agricultural hinterland of Jerusalem. Most of the remains date from the early Ottoman period, and they appear to be a continuum of the Mamluk farmstead previously discovered nearby (Yeger 2017:60–61). The village is absent from the late seventeenth-century CE Ottoman taxation lists, although it is later mentioned by Victor Guérin and by surveyors of the Palestine Exploration Fund in the late nineteenth century CE. It may not have been a permanent village, but a seasonal settlement that was privately owned, perhaps by villagers from nearby ‘En Kerem or by an institution, as was common in the Crusader period. A seal (bulla?) from the site bears the name of Mar Saba monastery (Kool 2014), attesting to the monastery’s ownership of the place in the Crusader period. In the Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman periods, the site probably constituted an endowment, as during the Mamluk period the site (named Beit Mazmil) was dedicated to funding religious activities at the Al-aram Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, the largest mosque in Hebron (Al-Khatib 2013:119).