In May 2016, a salvage excavation was conducted along the Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem, on the northern hill slope of the Jerusalem Sur Bahir neighborhood (Permit No. A-7714; map ref. 222048–101/627389–440; Fig. 1), after remains of the aqueduct were discovered in trial trenches dug prior to the construction of a private house. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Rajai Jaber, was directed by Y. Billig, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), D. Tanami (metal detection), C. Amit (studio photography), I. Reznitsky (metallurgical laboratory), D.T. Ariel (numismatics) and S. Itkis (plans). Prior to the excavation, R. Cohen supervised the trial trenches.
In the western square, the southern wall of the plastered channel, built of small fieldstones and plastered, was exposed. At the western end of the square, the wall was preserved to its full height (c. 1 m; Fig. 4), but further east, it was not as well-preserved, and at the eastern end of the square, only scant remains of the wall were extant above the bedrock. The northern wall of the channel was not preserved, and the underlying rock-hewn foundation trench was partially exposed. The stone wall had probably collapsed down the slope; it is less likely that the stones were robbed, as they were small, readily available fieldstones. .
The entirely preserved Ottoman-period terra-cotta water pipe was uncovered inside the channel. The pipe was encased in a hard coating of whitish cement mixed with small stones and pipe fragments. There was no evidence of regularly spaced holes along the upper surface of the pipe, a feature found in other sections of the Lower Aqueduct.
In the eastern square, the aqueduct remains comprised the foundation trench hewn into the chalk bedrock, a foundation layer of fieldstones bonded with concrete containing many pottery grits, and the overlying remains of the plastered channel (740.82 m asl; Fig. 5). The Ottoman-period terra-cotta pipe was exposed inside the channel across the square, continuing to the east. In the western part of the square, the entire pipe was preserved inside its concrete casing, while in the eastern part of the square, only the lower part of the pipe and its casing were preserved. The excavation yielded many terra-cotta pipe fragments, and a few Mamluk potsherds. An iron nail was found in the pipe’s concrete casing. A fals coin from the rule of al-Mansur Muhammad dating from 1361–1363 CE (IAA 158798) was found near the aqueduct in the previously dug trial trenches.
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