Courtesy of Gershon Edelstein, Israel Antiquities Authority

Ein Yael, seen here in a 1987 aerial photograph, is the site of an ancient agricultural settlement in the Rephaim Valley, west of Jerusalem. Its history extends as far back as 3000 B.C. Ancient farmers built stone walls on the outer edges of natural limestone terraces and then filled the area within the walls with earth in which to grow their crops. Water came from the perennial spring at Ein Yael, the flow of which varies seasonally from 150 to 300 cubic feet per hour. From a 3,500-cubic-foot collection pool found at the site above the height of the agricultural terraces, a series of irrigation channels distributed water by gravity to the terraces.

To learn more about ancient farming, archaeologist Gershon Edelstein began excavating Ein Yael in 1982. His efforts were subsequently rewarded with a serendipitous bonus when he discovered the remains of a Roman villa contuaning spectacular mosaics. The villa ruins can be seen within the curve of the road, slightly left of center, in the photo. See plan and section drawing of villa.