In December 2012 and January 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted east of the Ramat Shelomo neighborhood in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6535; map ref. 221778–635086; Figs. 1, 2), along the planned route of Highway 21. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Moriah Company, was directed by I. Zilberbod, with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), A. Hajian, M. Kunin and E. Belashov (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (photography), Sky View Company (aerial photography) and I. Lidski (drawing of finds).
A thorough examination of the cairn carried out before the excavation revealed no remains of installations or construction either at its top or below it. The excavation focused on the western side of the cairn (Figs. 3–6), exposing beneath the concentration of stones a field wall (W1; length c. 10 m, width c. 1 m, height c. 1 m) aligned in a southwest–northeast direction. A massive wall (W2; length c. 15 m, width 0.5–1.0 m, height c. 1.5 m) founded on the bedrock and built of two rows of medium- to large-sized fieldstones (0.55 × 0.65 m and 0.9 × 1.1 m, respectively) was exposed just west of W1. Wall 2 was probably the western retaining wall of the cairn. The cairn was cleared down to bedrock in the area between the two walls. It included a fill of small- to medium-sized stones mixed with a small amount of yellowish-brown soil, resembling quarry debris and devoid of finds.
Remains of two other walls (Figs. 3; 4: Sections 3–3, 4–4; 7–12) were discovered below and western part of W2 in the northwestern part of the excavation area: a northern wall (W6; preserved length c. 14 m, width c. 1.5 m, height c. 0.8 m) and an eastern one (W5; length c. 7 m, width c. 1.5 m, height 0.35), the southern part of which was severed by W2. The walls were built of two rows of fieldstones set on bedrock. A layer of agricultural soil (depth c. 1.5 m), devoid of stones and finds, was exposed south of W6 and west of W5. Iron Age II jar fragments (Fig. 13:1–3) were discovered outside the cairn, in the upper layers of stones on W5 and on the northern part of W2. Below them, in the layers of soil beside W5 and W6, were fragments of bowls (Fig. 13:4–7), a lid (Fig. 13:8), a cooking pot (Fig. 13:9) and jugs (Fig. 13:10–16) dating to the Hasmonean and Early Roman periods. Other Iron Age II pottery sherds discovered in the fill around W2 and W5 did not belong to the cairn or the wall remains and might have been swept there from the hilltop to the north.
Walls 5 and 6 apparently retained an agricultural plot, which on the basis of the finds was cultivated from the Hasmonean period until the Roman period.