During July 2002 a salvage excavation was conducted c. 300 m east of the Bet Shemesh train station (Permit No. A-3676*; map ref. NIG 2000–10/6290–300; OIG 1500–10/1290–300), in the wake of track work on the railroad line between Jerusalem and the Shephelah. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Bren Corporation, was directed by R. Avner, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying) and C. Amit (field photography).
A circular building and a ramp between it and the railroad track (Figs. 1, 2), which were probably built during the Ottoman period or the British Mandate era, were discovered. At least two construction phases, evidenced by the raising of the floor, were discerned and it seems that the building, whose function and purpose remain unclear, was used during both periods.
The wall of the building (W6; diam. 5.15 m, preserved height 4.65 m) was built of large fieldstones with earth and medium-sized fieldstones between them. Nineteen courses of stonework survived and each consisted of two rows of stones with a soil fill in-between. The interior face of the wall was probably plastered. The northern face of the building’s wall, which was made thicker in a later phase (W7), was preserved six courses high (1.2 m). Its construction method was identical to W6.
Two cement floors, one atop the other, whose elevation difference was 2.5 m, were discovered in the building. The early floor (L4) was partly preserved in the northern part of the building and the later floor (L3) was preserved in its entirety.
A cement floor (L2; 1.25 × 3.00 m) that abutted W6 was exposed south of the building. The floor could not be ascribed to a specific time, although rifle cartridges produced during 1938–1944 were found on it. Farther along the floor to the north were four steps (average height c. 0.23 m, total height 1.2 m) that led to a broad ramp (W4; Fig. 3). This was an especially wide wall (2.3 m) at whose top was a cement floor indicative of its use. The ramp ascended from south to north toward the circular building. It probably continued south beyond the limits of the excavation area so that it actually reached the railroad track. Based on the exterior surface of the wall it appears to have been built in the same manner as Walls 6 and 7. The ramp abutted Wall 6 (Fig. 4) along a distinct seam that indicated it was built in a later phase, probably a later technical phase. Since W7 was higher than the ramp, it seems the ramp predated it. If the ramp belonged to a later period than W6, then three building phases can be counted.
No ceramic finds were recovered.