During January–February 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted in the neighborhood of Arzei Ha-Bira in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6705; map ref. 22146–8/63310–3; Fig. 1), prior to private construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the S.B.D. Star Company, was directed by Z. ‘Adawi, with assistance from N. Nahama (administration), S. Mizrahi (excavation supervision), D. Levi (GPS), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), Y. Yolowitz (field photography), S. al-‘Amlah (metal detection) and H. Mechline, Y. Billig, R. Greenwald andA. Yehezkel (antiquities inspection).
Area A (Figs. 2, 3). Exposed were quarrying steps (3–4 × 15 m; max. depth 1.9 m) on which quarrying marks of stones and severance channels were discerned. Large stones were removed from the quarry, and exceptionally large stones (1 × 3–4 m; Figs. 4, 5) were quarried in its northeastern part. It is possible that these enormous stones were later divided into smaller stones after they were detached from the bedrock, although the possibility that these enormous stones were used as they were for massive construction cannot be negated. A wall (W1; length c. 6 m; Fig. 6) built of large fieldstones and preserved to a height of three courses was exposed just north of the quarry. The western continuation of the wall was situated beneath soil fill located outside the excavation limits. Two layers of quarrying debris (thickness c. 1 m) devoid of any datable finds were exposed north of the wall. The wall was built above the bottom of the quarry and presumably postdates the latter. It is possible that the wall was meant to delimit the quarry, or was related to the areas north of the quarry.
Area B (Figs. 7–9). A quarry (5–10 × 15 m; max. depth 2.5 m) was discovered that was bounded on its northeastern by a burial cave whose opening was blocked with soil fill. Signs of stone quarrying, severance channels and stones that had not been detached from the bedrock were discerned in the area of the quarry which indicate that stones were hewn in a variety of sizes (0.4 × 0.4–0.5 × 0.7–1.0 m), including very large stones (1.2 × 1.6 m).
A layer of soil that contained white or light brown quarrying debris (thickness 0.3–0.6 m) was discovered above the bottom of the quarry in both of the excavation areas. Above this layer was a layer of brown alluvium mixed with modern refuse (thickness 0.6–0.8 m); it was excavated by means of a backhoe.
The quarry that was exposed is part of an extensive quarry that operated in this location, parts of which were discovered in other excavations and parts of which are still covered with soil. Based on the dating of nearby quarries, it can assume that the quarry in Area A operated in the Early Roman period, whereas the quarry in Area B operated in later periods, possibly during the Byzantine period. If the enormous stones quarried in Area A were used as is, it is possible that they were used for constructing the Third Wall, located just several hundred meters south of the excavation area. The smaller stones quarried in Area B could have been used for either private or public construction, possibly the monasteries north of the city.