Urban development in Jerusalem, especially since the political unification of the city in 1967, has radically altered the face of Jaffa Gate, the citadel and its environs. Several soundings were conducted in fills adjacent to the city walls with the aid of mechanical equipment and supervised by E. Braun (Permit No. A-1540), prior to development work in this area.
Six trenches were cut by means of a mechanical backhoe into the area designated for landscaping.
Trench 1. This trench was cut perpendicular to the bedrock scarp of the hillside, directly in front of two rock-cut burial chambers dated to the Iron Age, which were excavated by M. Broshi in the 1970s. The trench was cut into a heavy overburden of dark brown soil, containing occupational debris that included potsherds and carbonized material. Neither signs of living surfaces nor of architecture were encountered. This fill contained potsherds dating to the Late Iron Age and the Second Temple period, as well as pottery fragments from later periods.
Trench 2 was a continuation of Trench 1, after an unexcavated interval. The profile of this trench proved to be the same as that of Trench 1; it yielded no pottery postdating the Second Temple period.
Trenches 3 and 4. The long Trench 3 was running parallel to a large tower (the second to the south of the citadel), jutting out from the line of the Ottoman wall. Trench 4, which continued the line of Trench 3 after an unexcavated interval, was cut into dark brown soil that contained many potsherds dating from the Late Iron Age through the medieval period and perhaps later. Bedrock was not reached and work was discontinued at a depth of c. 5 m.
Trench 5. This trench was dug into the fill in the interval between Trenches 2 and 3 in search of evidence for possible occupation in this area. None was discerned and no finds were recovered from this trench, which was overflowing with sewage from the Armenian Quarter, leaking out through a pipe cut illegaly under the Ottoman Wall in the early 1970s.
Trench 6. This was a short trench to the south of Trench 2 and was cut into fills similar to those in Trench 2.
Trench 7. This trench was a long swath cut into the modern slope opposite the Jaffa Gate, c. 20 m. to the west. Bedrock was not reached and all the fills were loose, modern dumps, resulting from modern bulldozing.
The results of these soundings indicate that just south of the citadel, city walls of several periods occupied the apex of a western slope so precipitous that much of it was unsuitable for building, although it appears to have been a convenient, extramural dumping ground. No signs of the fortifications that Conrad Schick claimed to have found, and which he drew plans of, were detected at the coordinates where he indicated them. This new information leads us to cast grave doubts on the veracity of Schick’s observations in this quarter of the city and what they were based on.