In August 2016, a salvage excavation was conducted at 61 Midbar Sinai Street in the neighborhood of Givʽat Ha-Mivtar in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-7791; map ref. 222033–41/634325–35; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Yigal Lipschits, was directed by D. Gellman (photography), with the assistance of E. Kapil (antiquities inspection), L. Yosef (administration), V. Essman and Y. Shmidov (surveying and drafting), D. Tanami (metal detection), I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing) and C. Amit (studio photography).
One excavation square (4 × 5 m) was opened, exposing the northern half of the water cistern (L4; Figs. 2, 3). The cistern is circular in shape and most of it was hewn in the bedrock. Its western wall was built of soil and stones, possibly because the bedrock in this section was too low. Most of the cistern was exposed to a height of 1.2 m; a small part of the cistern’s eastern wall was preserved to a height of c. 2.5 m, curving inward to form the installation’s ceiling. Judging by the plaster coating the cistern’s walls, the installation was probably hewn during the Second Temple period.
Once the cistern was no longer in use, it got filled with alluvium (L3; Fig. 4), which contained numerous pottery sherds, including jars (Fig. 5:1, 2) and jugs (Fig. 5:3, 4) from the Iron Age II, and body fragments from the Roman and Byzantine periods (not drawn). The pottery cannot date the cistern or when it went out of use. The Iron Age II sherds were swept into the cistern from a nearby Iron Age site, possibly the fortress (Negbi 1969).
The alluvium fill was covered by a second fill, composed of quarrying debris (L2; Figs. 4, 6) that may have originated from the nearby hewn burial caves. The western part of the cistern’s wall, built of soil and stone fill, collapsed due to dumping the quarrying debris into the cistern. Pieces of plaster that fell from the western part of the installation were discovered mixed with the quarrying debris. Two stone objects of unknown dates were found in the upper part of the quarrying debris: one was made of a flat round sandstone (diam. 0.11 m, weight c. 1.1 kg; Fig. 7) and its use is unclear; the other was fashioned from a round piece of basalt (diam. 0.17 m, weight c. 7 kg; Fig. 8) and was probably a ballista stone.
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