In October 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted in a section of the Lower Aqueduct in the Abu Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6933; map ref. 221768–827/630150–73, Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by J. Sa‘id, was directed by L. Oz (field photography), with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration) and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting).
A section of the Lower Aqueduct that was damaged by recent construction was identified on a soft limestone slope descending eastward. Two vertical sections of the aqueduct, c. 20 m apart from south to north (L100, L101; Figs. 2–4), were cleaned and documented. A lime pit was excavated next to the southern section, and a rock-hewn pit was excavated west of the northern section. At least six superimposed phases were identified in the aqueduct. In the earliest phase, during the Second Temple period, the aqueduct was a plastered, stone-lined, rock-hewn channel; it had a U-shaped cross-section and was situated at an elevation of c. 739 m asl. In the latest phase, during the Ottoman period, sections of terracotta pipes (diam. 0.26 m) were incorporated inside a cement casing. At least four additional layers of superimposed fills and plaster layers were discernible between the early phase and late phase. Remains of a partially-hewn, round lime pit (L103; 1.1 × 1.9 m, max. depth 0.8 m; Fig. 5) were discovered c. 1.2 m east of the aqueduct; the northern part of the installation was destroyed. The walls and floor of the pit were haphazardly hewn and the lime lining was crumbly. Several ancient potsherds, along with a few fragments of porcelain and glass, probably from the twentieth century CE, were discovered in the fill inside the pit. It is possible that the pit was used to maintain and repair the aqueduct in one of its later phases; when the aqueduct went out of use, the pit was blocked and partially destroyed. Remains of a piriform-shaped rock-hewn pit (L104; 1.3 × 2.5 m, depth c. 2 m; Fig. 6) were discovered in the northwestern corner of the area; most of the pit and the original opening were destroyed. A layer of fill (thickness 0.4 m) consisting of black-brown soil with a small amount of modern refuse, devoid of potsherds, was exposed at the bottom of the pit. The property owner recalled that the pit was used as a cesspit until several years ago.
In the section of the Lower Aqueduct that was excavated, at least six phases of use—from the Second Temple period until the Late Ottoman period—were identified. The lime pit was apparently hewn in connection with the aqueduct in one of its later phases; it was used by whoever repaired or maintained the aqueduct. The piriform pit was used until recently and is probably not functionally connected to the aqueduct. In the absence of finds, the pit cannot be dated.