Prior to the excavation, which began at 814.80 m above sea level, a layer of asphalt (thickness 0.4 m) and below it a fill of reddish earth that contained a few potsherds (thickness 0.7 m) were removed by bulldozers. Three adjacent squares, oriented east–west, were opened (28 sq m; Fig. 3); a small portion of a wall (W10), one row wide, dry-built of undressed stones (15–25 × 20–35 cm) and remains of a plaster floor (L11; thickness 3–5 cm), consisting of mortar mixed with crushed potsherds (Fig. 4), were revealed. The floor was laid over a statumen layer (thickness c. 0.1 m) composed of small fieldstones, which aimed at leveling the bedrock surface (Fig. 5). The excavation yielded a relatively large quantity of pottery vessels, dating to three periods, primarily the Early Roman period (first century CE), but also to Iron II and the second–third centuries CE, when the Tenth Legion was garrisoned in the city.
Iron II. No architecture of this period was found, but a few potsherds were discovered in non-stratified contexts, e.g., a large bowl with a thickened rim (Fig. 6:1), made of a light red-brown fabric with many small and large white and a few small gray grits, wheel-burnished on the interior and the rim; this is one of the most typical forms in Judah of the eighth–seventh centuries BCE. Evidence for occupation of the site during the Late Iron Age was found in former excavations, perhaps pointing to a small village on the road from Jerusalem to Moza.
First century CE. Most of the ceramic finds and a coin can be attributed to this period, which is known from former excavations on the site for containing an important pottery production center that consisted of several kilns and work areas along with agricultural installations, dwellings and miqwa'ot. These remains attest to the existence of a Jewish settlement, specializing in the production of pottery from the second century BCE to the first century CE. It should, however, be noted that in our area, no finds from the Late Hellenistic or Hasmonean period were discovered; all the pottery dated to the first century CE. This suggests that by the first century CE, the site expanded to the north, beyond the limits of the Hasmonean site.
A coin (IAA 104798) recovered from Sq 3, beneath the statumen of Floor 11, is a bronze coin of Herod Agrippa I, minted in Jerusalem and dating to 41/42 CE.
The pottery assemblage consists almost exclusively of cooking ware vessels representing three types: Cooking pots with a globular body, carinated casseroles and jugs, probably for boiling water.
The cooking pots (Fig. 6:2–4) have a short vertical neck, a triangular grooved rim and two small loop handles. The carinated casseroles (Fig. 6:5, 6) have a short, vertical neck, a triangular grooved rim and two small, flattened loop handles that rise slightly above the rim. Some of them have a low ridge between the bottom of the neck and the carination. The jugs (Fig. 6:7, 8) have a piriform body, a high constricted neck with wheel-ridging on the interior, a triangular pinched rim and a flattened loop handle drawn from the rim to the shoulder. None of the discovered vessels showed evidence of having been used. On the basis of visual examination, the fabric of all these cooking-ware vessels, orange-brown with small to medium white grits, seems to be made of marl of the Moza Formation, a clay mined in the area of Moza, a few kilometers to the west of the workshops of the Convention Center, which is known to have been used by the potters of this site.
Also belonging to this period is a relatively large number of circular stands with a biconical shape (Fig. 6:9–13). They are made of a reddish or orange fabric with a gray core and many small white grits, which is very likely also a Moza clay. One stand has small impressed circles (Fig. 6:13). Similar stands (some with inscriptions) have been found in the other excavations on the site, especially in the excavations of Arubas and Goldfus, and in those of Levi and Be’eri. Their opening (diam. c. 10 cm), strongly suggests that they served as supports for round-bottomed vessels, such as the cooking pots, casseroles and cooking jugs discovered next to them. The question has been debated whether they served as supports for these vessels inside the kilns or if they were used as supports during the drying process of the freshly manufactured, but still unfired vessels. A. Berlin, who published the stands from the Arubas and Goldfus excavations, favored the second hypothesis on the grounds that she did not notice any over-fired examples. In our excavation and, apparently, also in the Levi and Be’eri excavation, a few stands show clear signs of over-firing (Fig. 6:12, 13), underlying the need to reconsider the question of the exact function of these stands.
The excavation also yielded a few fragmentary jars (Fig. 6:14–16), which can be dated to the first century CE. These are made of a light red or reddish yellow ware with many small white and gray grits, which clearly differs from the Moza marl. They have a high straight neck, with a small ridge at the base of the neck. Some have a plain rim (Fig. 6:15, 16), and others a flat, slightly outward rim (Fig. 6:14).
Second–Third Centuries CE. A few vessels dating to the period when the Tenth Legion was garrisoned in Jerusalem and apparently all made of Moza marl were found in the northeast part of Sq 2, an area where no floor was found, perhaps a later pit. They include a rilled-rim basin (Fig. 6:17) made of an orange-brown ware with a thick gray core and many small to medium white grits. The jar in Fig. 6:18 has an everted ledge rim, made of a pale yellow ware with a thick gray core and many small white and dark grits. The vessel in Fig. 6:19 has a ledge rim of a table amphora or a deep bowl, made of an orange-brown ware with many small white grits.
Building Materials. Several building materials were found in mixed loci, including bricks and roof-tiles. The bricks (thickness 3 cm; Fig. 7:1, 2) are made of an orange-brown ware with many small to large white grits and many small dark grits. Remains of white mortar, still adhering to them, indicate that they have been in use. The roof-tiles consist of tegulae and imbrices. The tegulae (thickness 2 cm; Fig. 7:3–5) have a large rounded flange on one side and a rectangular flange on the other. They are made of an orange-brown ware, often yellow on the surface with many small white grits and a few small dark grits. The imbrices (thickness 1.2–1.5 cm; Fig. 7:6) are characterized by a very low curve. They are made of a light red-yellow ware with white grits. Neither the tegulae nor the imbrices bear remains of mortar, suggesting they have never been used. Comparing them to the roof tiles recovered from a stratigraphic context in the Levi and Be’eri excavation, they were likely produced in the pottery workshop, active at the time of the Tenth Legion.
The discovery of a relatively large number of stands and of freshly manufactured cooking vessels dating to the first century CE suggests the presence of first-century CE kilns in or near the excavated area. These may have been destroyed when Jaffa Street was paved in the mid-nineteenth century. The site of the pottery workshop continued further east, as shown by evidence of pottery manufacture in the Early Roman period found in the excavation conducted by E.D. Kagan (HA-ESI 122
), to the east of our excavation.