One of the most interesting and surprising finds during the 2010 excavation at Khirbet Qeiyafa was a manmade cave inside the city. A group of volunteers found the cave entrance, blocked up, beneath the bedrock. I first heard about the discovery before the entrance was cleared. One initial idea was that it could have been a tunnel to secure the city’s water supply. (There are numerous examples of this in ancient Canaan/Israel, including Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem.) The cave has not turned out to be a water system but is still very interesting.
(All photos below are posted with permission from Dr. Michael Hasel of Southern Adventist University.)
Dr. Michael Hasel of Southern Adventist University describes the cave in DigSight #14.
The most fascinating find of the season in Area D was the discovery of a manmade cave… It wasn’t until we had dug down a considerable ways that we noticed that the bedrock had been carved into an arched doorway…
Excited about the prospect of hidden treasures, Juliana McGraw, a mass communications major, was one of the first ones to enter the cave. “I couldn’t wait to dive in. I had no idea what we would find, but I was hoping for something epic, like a gold chariot!”
Although no chariots or gold were found, the cave produced beautiful examples of Roman, Byzantine and Islamic pottery. Bronze jewelry, coins and several animal bones were also among the finds…
Because of lack of time, only the entrance area was fully excavated to the bedrock. However, the team was able to confirm that the cave continues to the north and the east, and several large chambers remain to be uncovered.