During June–July 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted at Qiryat Moriyya in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-5448; map ref. 221539–58/628464–80), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Azorim Company, was directed by G. Solimany, with the assistance of Y. Ohayon (administration), M. Kunin and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), D. Levy (GPS), T. Sagiv (field photography), D. Shaham (antiquities inspection), I. Lidski-Reznikov (pottery drawing) and A. Eirikh-Rose.
The excavation area (c. 25 sq m) extended along a slope descending to the west, toward a wide channel of a stream that runs from northwest to southeast (Fig. 1). Modern earthen fill was removed prior to the excavation. Two segments of an aqueduct, situated 5 m apart and aligned north–south, and a retaining wall built parallel to it, were exposed. Two construction phases were discerned in the aqueduct: an early phase dating to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods and a late one from the Ottoman period. This aqueduct was part of the low-level aqueduct that conveyed water to Jerusalem from the Solomon’s Pools south of Bet Lehem.
Another section of this aqueduct was exposed in 1997–1998 (Permit No. A-2616, A-2863), next to the current excavation. A rock-hewn and plastered water reservoir, which might date to the Hasmonean period or perhaps even earlier, was exposed c. 100 m south of the current excavation in 2008 (HA-ESI 122
Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods (Fig. 2). An aqueduct (L109–L111; width 1.8 m) that was built of two parallel walls (width of each wall 0.6 m, height 1.5 m), 0.5 m apart, and a channel between them (width 0.6 m), was exposed. The walls were built on dark brown soil in the stream channel and were built of medium-sized fieldstones on the inside and small fieldstones on the outside, bonded and plastered with gray mortar (Figs. 3, 4). In the space between the walls (depth 1.2 m) a thick pink layer of plaster that contained a large amount of crushed potsherds, was applied above a foundation of soil and a level of small stones. The inside of the channel was also coated with a similar layer of plaster. Two other layers of plaster were applied to the bottom of the aqueduct; these were not spread on the sides of the aqueduct. The channel was covered with large stone slabs (0.4×0.8 m), three of which were discovered in situ. A retaining wall (W1; exposed length 15 m) built of one row of small and medium fieldstones was discovered c. 1 m west of the aqueduct and parallel to it; the wall was intended to prevent eroded earth, stones and water from entering the aqueduct and destroying it. Fill consisting of small ground limestone was deposited between the base of the retaining wall and the western wall of the aqueduct (L113, L114, L119). Dark brown soil fill and small flint stones (L102) were placed on top of the ground limestone fill between the edge of the aqueduct’s western wall and Retaining W1. Dark brown soil fill (L101, L104, L112) abutted W1 from the west. The aqueduct curved to the east (L106, L115, L118; Fig. 5), following the bend in the stream’s channel, in the northern part of the excavation. The aqueduct and the retaining wall in the northern section were not as well-preserved as in the southern section, probably as a result of repairs carried out on the aqueduct in the Ottoman period. The ceramic finds from this phase include a jar from the Byzantine period (Fig. 6:1) and bowls (Fig. 6:2–4) from the Early Islamic period.
Ottoman Period. A ceramic pipe (L109; diam. 0.25 m; Fig. 7) composed of sections (length of each section 0.4 m) was inserted inside the aqueduct in this phase. A thick layer of gray plaster containing a large amount of charcoal was applied to the entire circumference of the pipe. As a result of blockages in the pipe, the upper part of each pipe section had been breached with holes designed to release the blockages in the pipe and maintain the free flow of water in it. The construction of the aqueduct in its northern section (L115, L118) was different than the construction of the southern section and it seems that this section was repaired in the Ottoman period (Fig. 8). The aqueduct was made narrower (width of channel 0.3 m) and its walls were built of small fieldstones; the aqueduct’s ceiling was built of broken pipe fragments mixed with plaster. The retaining wall (W1) to the west of the aqueduct had toppled over and its stones were discovered in the collapse. The ceramic finds from this phase dated to the Ottoman period and included a fragment of a lamp (Fig. 6:5), a bird’s head (Fig. 6:6) and fragments of tobacco pipes (Fig. 6:7, 8).