In October 2018, a salvage excavation was conducted on Derekh Ha-Shilo’ah in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-8355; map ref. 222267/630646; Fig. 1), prior to regulating sewage and water infrastructures. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by East Jerusalem Development Ltd., was directed by S. Mizrahi, with the help of N. Nehama (administration), R. Rosenthal-Heginbottom (pottery reading), A. Bahareno (photogrammetric documentation), A. Rose (drafting), H. Bitan (GPS, GIS) and E.D. Kagan (antiquities inspection).
An excavation square was opened to the east of the street, in part of a grove opposite the entrance to the Shiloah
Pool (Pool of Siloam). The excavation area was delimited on the west and the north by an old sewage pipeline that was laid in 1977 and served as a reference point for previous excavations. A salvage excavation along part of the sewage-line route unearthed remains of a Second Temple-period pool (Adan-Bayewitz 1979
). To the north of the current excavation area lies Area A1 of the City of Davidexcavations (De Groot, Cohen and Caspi 1992
), and a pool dating from the Second Temple period was discovered nearby (Weksler-Bdolah 2013
: Plan 3). Remains of the First Wall excavated by Bliss and Dickie (1898)
were encountered to the west (for a plan of its course in relation to the Iron Age wall, see Weksler-Bdolah 2013
: Fig. 2). Two salvage excavations (Weksler-Bdolah and Lavi 2013
; Weksler-Bdolah and Szanton 2014
) were conducted at the junction between Ma’ale ‘Ir David Street and Derekh Ha-Gih
on, and among the many finds were remains of the First Wall, of a gate and of a massive wall dating from the Iron Age, which was interpreted as the city wall during that period. Many other archaeologists excavated in the area, including Guthe
(for further details and a complete bibliography of the excavations in the area, see Weksler-Bdolah 2013
The excavation comprised one square (L100; 2.8 × 3.5 m; Fig. 2) that contained a fill of soil and modern waste. Two dressed, quadrangular stones that continued northward (W101; 0.4 × 0.5 m; Fig. 3) were revealed in the northern section of the square; they are different from the rest of the remains discovered in the excavation and were probably part of a later structure. The stones were discovered within a layer of light-colored soil and debris that was removed with a backhoe prior to excavation, and thus could not be dated. Beneath this level was a layer of gray-brown soil mixed with refuse, which extended down to the top of a stone surface (L104; 3.1 × 3.4 m; Figs. 3, 4); the surface was built of large, roughly hewn stones, medium-sized stones and dressed stones, with dark brown soil used as bonding material, and it was preserved to a height of two courses. The surface, which was probably a foundation for either a road or an installation, extended westward beneath the old sewage pipe (Figs. 4: Section 1–1; 5). A small section of what seems to be surface for pedestrian traffic—a tamped layer of light-colored gravel (L105; 0.3 × 2.5 m; Figs. 3, 6)—was discovered covering the stone foundation in the north of the square. To the east of the stone foundation and parallel to it was a fill (L102; 0.7 × 2.8 m) containing dark brown soil and refuse that had apparently slid down the slope after the road or installation fell into disuse. Once the stone foundation had been documented, its southern part was dismantled (L106; 1.5 × 3.4 m) to reveal an accumulated layer of brown-gray soil (L103; Figs. 4, 7), with small and medium-sized stones, as well as potsherds and a chunk of plaster.
Pottery retrieved while dismantling the northern part of the stone foundation (L106) included two jars (Fig. 8:1, 2)—one with a parallel from Masada, and the other with parallels from Binyane Ha-Umma and from the Jericho palaces—and a fragment of a mortarium handle (Fig. 8:3) with a parallel from Binyane Ha-Umma. The jars and the mortarium date the construction of the stone foundation to a phase later than the First Jewish Revolt and up to the second century CE.
The underlying fill (L103) yielded a Second Temple-period assemblage comprising a bowl (Fig. 9:1), a cooking pot (Fig. 9:2), a jug (Fig. 9:3), jars of various types (Fig. 9:4–7) and an amphoriskos (Fig. 9:8)—all with parallels from the Burnt House in the Jewish Quarter and Masada. Also found in the fill were a base with a round hole drilled through its center (Fig. 9:9) and a lid or stopper (Fig. 9:10) fashioned out of a pottery body fragment; the fabric and the shape of the latter do not resemble Second Temple-period material, suggesting that it originated in one of the site’s earlier layers. Fill 103 yielded also pottery from the Iron Age and earlier, which could not be dated with complete certainty.
Based on the archaeological finds, the excavation area lay on the eastern fringes of the City of David during the Second Temple period. The city wall was built in this area, with water-supply systems and pools constructed around it, the main and most important of these being the Pool of Siloam (Reich and Shukron 2005). The excavation unearthed a stone-built foudation that was constructed following the First Jewish Revolt; its function could not be determined with any certainty, but it seems to have served as a foundation for either a local road or part of the road to Jericho (Ben David 2013). The pottery from the foundation (L106), augments the finds from Areas A–C in the excavations directed by Weksler-Bdolah, Lavi and Szanton, which recovered pottery dating from the second century CE, including imported ware and pottery from the Tenth Legion’s pottery workshop at Binyane Ha-Umma. This led to the proposal that the Tenth Legion was present in the vicinity of the Pool of Siloam and protected it following the First Jewish Revolt (Weksler-Bdolah 2013). This supposition was further supported by finds from the stepped street in the City of David—a few structures attributed to the Tenth Legion and dated to the second century CE based on pottery, roof tiles and tubuli. The discoveries prompted the interpretation that the Pool of Siloam was part of the city’s main transport network following the rebellion, and that the Legion was charged with guarding the city’s water sources (Szanton, Lieberman and Hagbi 2018). The stone foundation may therefore be a remnant of the Tenth Legion’s assignment to secure the area of the Pool of Siloam and protect Jerusalem’s water sources in following the First Jewish Revolt.
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