In June 2017, a trial excavation was conducted along Moshe Wallach Street in Jerusalem’s Meqor Barukh neighborhood (Permit No. A-8033; map ref. 219553–61/632790–98; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of the Jerusalem District Campus and following the discovery of two locations with possible archaeological remains in trail trenches. The excavation area lies near the old Egged parking lot, between Jaffa Street and Shazar Boulevard. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Danya Cebus Co., was directed by R. Cohen, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), B. Storchan, C. Arbib and A. Landes-Nagar (trial trenches), M. Kahan (surveying), A. Peretz (field photography), A. Wiegmann and O. Rose (photogrammetric documentation), N. Zak (plans)and laborers from Perah Ha-Shaqed Company.
The site is near Binyene Ha-Umma in Jerusalem, where the Arab village of Sheikh Badr formerly stood. The area is rich in archaeological finds, dating from the Iron Age to the Ottoman period. Numerous excavations have been conducted in the area in recent decades, revealing a Tenth Legion pottery and roof-tile workshop, Herodian rock-hewn installations and the remains of a Byzantine church (Goldfus and Arubas 2001). Salvage excavations south and southeast of Binyene Ha-Umma unearthed burial caves from the Roman and Byzantine periods, a monastery, agricultural installations, stone quarries and water cisterns (Ben-Ari 2016, and see further references therein). A trial excavation along Jaffa Streetnear the intersection between Sare Israel and Nordau Streets yielded remains of Jaffa Road from the nineteenth century and finds from the Roman period (Kagan 2010); remains from Iron Age II and finds from the first–third centuries CE were discovered in an excavation at the intersection of Jaffa and Sare Israel Streets (Vitto 2011).
Two trial squares, c. 40 m apart, were opened in the current excavation (Fig. 2). Two walls exposed in the northwest square are probably modern (W106, W108; Fig. 3). The southeast square was excavated down to bedrock; it contained a natural rock terrace with a few fieldstones beside it, possibly part of an ancient terrace wall (Fig. 4).
The top of W106 (width c. 0.8 m; Fig. 5), running in a northwest–southeast direction, was exposed near the surface along the balk of the northwest square. The wall had been severed by a trial trench, but it apparently extended beyond the square in both directions. The wall was built of two or three rows of randomly arranged fieldstone; two of its courses were preserved (height c. 0.6 m). A modern concrete wall (thickness c. 0.1 m) containing iron supports was found leaning against the northern face of the wall, suggesting that the stone wall may also be modern; nevertheless, the possibility that the modern concrete wall was built over the foundations of an ancient wall cannot be ruled out.
Wall 108 (exposed length c. 1.7 m, width c. 0.5 m), running in northeast–southwest direction, was exposed c. 0.3 m below the surface in the northwest square. The wall was apparently constructed of two rows of hewn stones. The top of another wall (Fig. 6), probably the continuation of W108, was discerned c. 4 m south of the square. It was built of four rows of fieldstones (width c. 1.2 m) set at least two courses high. The light-colored sandy soil deposited near and on top of the walls was different from the surrounding brown hamra soil. The meager pottery finds from the area were mostly wornand could not help in dating the architectural remains.
A trial trench opened in the center of the southeast square (1.5 × 5.0 m; Fig. 7) was excavated down to the bedrock, which lay 1 m below the surface at the south end of the trench (L113) and c. 0.6 m below the surface at its north end (L112). The two sides of the trench were separated by a rock step; medium-sized fieldstones seem to have been incorporated below the step, forming what may be a terrace wall (W111) founded on bedrock. It is unclear whether this was a wall, since no additional walls were found abutting it, and the pottery finds beside it were meager and mostly undiagnostic.
The walls in the northwest square are probably modern. The southeast square did not yield any clear archaeological remains, possibly with the exception of a terrace wall.
Avner R. 2013. Jerusalem, Binyene Ha-Umma (South) HA-ESI 125.
Ben-Ari N. 2016. Jerusalem, Binyene Ha-Umma HA-ESI 128.
Goldfus H. and Arubas B. 2001. The Kilnworks of the Tenth Legion at the Jerusalem Convention Center. Qadmoniot 34:111–118 (Hebrew).
Kagan E.D. 2010. Jerusalem, Binyene Ha-Umma HA-ESI 122.
Landes-Nagar A. 2008. Jerusalem, Binyene Ha-Umma (South) HA-ESI 120.
Vitto F. 2011. Jerusalem, Max Nordau Junction. HA-ESI 123.