The Begin Center is located on what is referred to as The Hinnom Shoulder. The name was created by Dr. Gaby Barkai by combining two Biblical geographical terms: the Jebusiate Shoulder and the Ben-Hinnom Valley. The Center is situated at the junction of the Refaim Valley and the Ben-Hinnom Valley, on the main road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem (see Judges 19:10-12). http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et0719.htm
and served as an important cross roads in ancient times. Due to its proximity overlooking the walled city of Jerusalem, it also served a strategic purpose over the centuries. The site has been dated to the sixth or seventh centuries BCE, some 2600-2700 years ago. The King at that time was Josiah and the prophet was Jeremiah.
Previously, the site contained burial caves but their roofs and walls have collapsed and their stones have been quarried for building use. Wealthy families benefited from the site for they could afford such burial arrangements. In ancient times, the burial process was different from contemporary customs. After death, the body was placed in a front chamber, after purity customs, on a special shelf which contained prepared indentions for the body to rest, as we can see. After a year, the bones that remained after decomposation were collected and placed in a special repository. Families were buried together this way for periods extending over generations.
In the summer of 1979, Dr. Gaby Barkai conducted an archaeological excavation of the site. One of the children who had accompanied him was requested to clean to cave area and accidentally managed to uncover the repository which, it was found, contained over 1000 items. Among them were identified 95 skeletons, mostly teeth, beads, rings, etc. In addition, the most ancient of all Biblical texts was found on a silver pendant. In ancient Hebraic script of the pre-Babylonian era, the verses from Number 6:24-26, which make up the Priestly Blessing, were engraved on the pendant as well as part of another verse of Deuteronomy 7:9. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et0507.htm In essence, the pendant is the sole scientific proof of the use of verses from the first five books of the Torah during the First Temple Period. The pendant predates the Qumran Cave letters by 700 years.
The Priestly Blessing was found on two silver plates that had been rolled together and punctured for a chain to be inserted. Their measurements are 9.7 cm. by 2.7 cm. and 3.92 by 1.1 cm. The Ineffable Name of God appears in the text. In nearby caves were also found graves of soldiers of the Roman Xth Legion who laid siege to Jerusalem some 1970 years ago, a stone-quarry for the Temple, a Byzantine church from 400-600 CE linked with Saint Gregorius (Pope Gregory I) whose floor was 4.5 x 2.5 meters and only a small portion of the mosaic design was extant, a bird eating from a grape cluster. It appears that a monastery existed nearby as building remains and cisterns were discovered. The site probably was where part of the Jewish population of Jerusalem was slaughtered in 614 by the Persian invaders. In addition, ammunition storerooms from the Ottoman period occupied a section of the park area and Red Sea shells were also found here. All of the findings are now on display at the Israel Museum.