Khirbet er-Rasm

Avraham Faust and Adi Ehrlich

Kh. er-Rasm is located in the Judean Shephelah (map reference 1435/1219), on a salient hill south-southwest of Tel 'Azeka, in the midst of the British Park (park Britania). The site was discovered by Y. Dagan, who collected sherds from the Iron Age, and the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. The excavations and research of the site are only in at the beginning. During 1997 surveys and a sounding were undertaken at the site, and in 1998-1999 an excavation was conducted there on behalf of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies of Bar-Ilan University and Jewish National Fund (JNF). The preliminary surveys and probes exposed the remains of a large structure (c. 30 x 30 m.) on the summit of the hill and a few smaller structures along its edges. An extensive hiding complex and agricultural installations were observed in the area around the site. On the surface were artifacts dating from the Iron Age to modern times.

The western part of the large structure was especially well preserved, and it was there that the excavations focused. The structure's western wall (W1), built from two faces of fieldstones, was exposed almost to its full extent, including the southern and northern corners. Four meters east of this wall was a row of monolithic pillars (W4), some standing, while other are fallen. W1 and the pillars were connected by several walls built of nari stones or chalk blocks. Next to one of them (W15) was a semicircular installation. In some of the squares, bedrock was reached.

The pottery discovered on the surface was mixed, and mainly dates to the Roman-Byzantine periods. Between the walls was a rubble of rectangular chalk blocks and a few nari fieldstones. Amid and below the rubble were sherds and even complete vessels from the Hellenistic period. These included storage jars, cooking pots, a flask, bowls, unguentariu, juglets and oil lamp in excellent condition.

The function and date of the large structure are unclear. Its architectural character suggested that it was built at the Iron Age (like the structure at Kh. Abu e-Twein, and others), but all the finds hitherto discovered in the rubble, underneath the floors, and above the bedrock date to the Hellenistic period.

During the 2000-1 seasons, excavations were conducted also in the eastern part of the central building and to its south. In the western part of the building parts of rooms, situated near the entrance to the building, were uncovered, but the floors have not been reached yet. To the south of the main building, a large stone structure was exposed, built like stairs. It function is not clear, but it probably dates to the Hellenistic period. In addition, a complex of caves, including a hiding cave from the Bar Kokhba revolt, was partially exposed, and a large collumbarium was studied.

Note: The excavation was directed by Avraham Faust and Adi Ehrlich, with the assistance of R. Sagir (area supervisor), D. Behar and J. Rosenberg (survying), A. Ackerman (geomorphology), M. Waldman (pottery drawing). Also participating in the excavations were students from Bar-Ilan University, youth in the framework of national service of the JNF and the Trailblazers of the JNF. Eli Shenhav, the JNF archaeologist, was of great assistance in the preparation of the excavations.