An Ancient Quarry. Remains of quarried stone blocks (L132; length 0.45–0.55 m, width 0.20–0.25 m) remained in the northern part of the excavation area. A stone block that remained in situ, surrounded by a narrow separating channel was exposed (Fig. 4). Shallow quarrying steps (height 0.1–0.2 m) could also be discerned on the sloping surface of the bedrock and single-pointed chisel marks were noted on the bedrock that descends east (L117; Fig. 5). Soil fill that had accumulated on the remains of the quarry (max. height 1.5 m) contained numerous potsherds from the end of the First Temple period (seventh–sixth centuries BCE) and the Persian period (fifth–fourth centuries BCE), including a fragment of a jar handle bearing a stamped impression of a rosette.
Stratum IV (Late Second Temple period, first century BCE–first century CE)
Three phases (IVc–IVa) were identified.
IVc. A plastered installation (diam. c. 1.75 m) that had two superposed plaster floors (L141 on the bottom, L138 on the top) was partly exposed on the soil fill of Stratum V. The upper floor adjoined a medium-sized stone (height 0.4 m) in the north, probably part of a wall that enclosed the installation. The floor abutted leveled natural bedrock in the south. Potsherds discovered on the floors of the installation and in the fill sealed beneath it dated it to the Early Roman period, the time of Herod’s reign (second half of the first century BCE).
IVb. A Meager Wall and Stone Cutting Debris. Above the plastered installation was stone-chip fill that appeared to be stone cutting debris and a thin curved wall, built of a single row of small fieldstones (W9; length 3 m). It seems that stones were cut at the site in this phase and the thin wall was built to stabilize the stone chips that piled up. Potsherds discovered among the stone chips dated from the first century CE to the end of the Second Temple period.
IVa. Collapse. Ashlars cut from soft chalk were discovered on the stone chips or directly on the bedrock; some of these had drafted margins and a prominent boss, in the Hasmonean stone-dressing style (L119, L128, L131; Figs. 6–8). The stones were complete, resting one atop the other, with practically no soil between them. Their condition indicates they collapsed suddenly, in a catastrophic event. They apparently piled up at the foot of a building that originally stood at the top of the slope. Evidence of fire was noted between the stones. The small finds discovered in the stone collapse dated to the first century CE and included pottery, fragments of stone vessels and coins. The collapse is presumably related to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE and its origin is probably the 'First Wall' whose course was similar to that of the Byzantine wall, next to the excavation area.
Two phases (IIIb, IIIa) were discerned.
IIIb. An Enclosure Wall. A wall (W8, length c. 5 m, width 1 m, height 3 m; Figs. 9, 10) oriented southwest-northeast was discovered in the southern part of the excavation area. It was built at the foot of the bedrock cliff and seems to have its axis conform to the surface of the bedrock. The wall’s foundation was set on the natural bedrock. The courses of the wall were built of partially dressed stones, some in secondary use, positioned as headers or stretchers, with small fieldstones between the courses to level them. Several square stones with broad margins and a flat boss were incorporated in secondary use among the stones. The western side of W8 was damaged when a tower integrated in the Byzantine city wall was constructed; hence the wall predated the tower. Potsherds from the Late Roman period, dating to the time of Aelia Capitolina (second–fourth centuries CE), was discovered in the soil fill that had piled up alongside W8 (L130, L140). The wall’s foundation cut through soil fill containing finds from the Early Roman period—the time of the Second Temple (first century CE). Thus, the construction of W8 is presumed to be post Second Temple, probably in the Late Roman period, between the second and fourth centuries CE or slightly thereafter.
IIIa. Wall stumps severed close to the corner of the tower in the city wall (Stratum II) were discovered on top of W8. Courses of a wall (W6) were revealed above the southern part of
W8, south of the tower’s corner; the continuation of the same line of wall, excavated as a wall (W4), was discovered east of the corner. The eastern side of W6 was robbed. Body potsherds from the fifth–sixth centuries CE were discovered in the soil fill east of W6. It seems that the wall had been dismantled and robbed at this time; however, its construction probably predated that of the tower in Stratum II.
A Corner of a Tower in the City Wall. The southeastern corner of a tower (W1, W2; preserved height 4 m; Figs. 11, 12) in the ancient city wall was exposed north of W8. The walls of the tower were founded on natural bedrock, whose surface was made smooth.
Eleven courses were preserved in the southern wall (W1) and ten courses were exposed in the eastern wall (W2); there might be other stone courses that could not be exposed due to the collapse. The walls of the tower were built of rectangular, hard limestone ashlars. The stones in the two upper courses were large with drafted margins and a prominent boss in their center, or were smooth (average size: length 1.5–1.8 m, width 0.45 m, height 0.40–0.65 m). The stones in the lower courses were narrower and not as high; their surface was roughly dressed and few of them had drafted margins (average size: length 1.1–1.6 m, width 0.45–0.95 m, height 0.30–0.34 m). The bottom courses above the bedrock were built of small square stones (0.3–0.7 m per side). Small stones reinforced with gray mortar were inserted between the large building stones to level the courses. The corner of the tower exposed in the excavation had previously been documented by Bliss and Dickie, and the tunnel they dug around the walls of the tower and outside them was re-exposed (Bliss and Dickie 1897: 94–96, Plate XI; 2010: 94–96, Pl. XI). It was noted in the current excavations that the corner of the tower damaged W8 and probably also W6, which was built above W8; hence, the tower postdated them. Data indicates that the tower was apparently built after the fourth century CE. It can be identified with the southeastern gate tower in the Byzantine-period city wall.
Meager Field Walls. Thin wall stumps built of one row of stones, one course high, were exposed (W3, W5, W10; Fig. 13). They were generally aligned east–west or northeast-southwest and were probably used to retain farming terraces. It was not possible to date the walls with certainty, but they are most likely later than the gate tower of Stratum II. The latest finds discovered in the soil fill associated with these walls dated to the Byzantine or Early Islamic periods (sixth–eighth centuries CE) and it can be assumed that they were built at the very earliest, at that time.
The finds that were discovered are an important contribution to the study of Jerusalem, especially because of the location of the area that was examined. Nevertheless, the small size of the excavation area precludes any possibility of definitely identifying the buildings that were exposed.