The Roman Period (third–fourth centuries CE)
Square 5. A small section of a mosaic pavement (L126) was exposed; it was delimited by robber trenches (L138, L146) and a wall (W207; Fig. 1). The mosaic pavement consisted of white tesserae (1×1×1 cm; Fig. 2). At some point in time, the floor was coated with a thick layer of plaster, probably as a result of wear; this phenomenon was noted in other loci (see below). The floor was bounded on the west by Robber Trench 146. Small fieldstones that might have served as a foundation for the robbed-out wall were found at the bottom of the trench. Robber Trench 138 delimited the floor in the north. Wall 207 was excavated north of the trench. It was built of large well-dressed stones (0.30×0.60×0.75 m) set atop a fieldstone foundation (Fig. 3). The wall was not excavated for its entire length and it continued north beneath the Byzantine floor that covered it (L119 below; Fig. 1: Section 1-1). It ended in the south at Robber Trench 138.
Square 6. Three walls (W201, W202, W208) and a stone floor (L159) were exposed. Floor 159 was not excavated; it abutted the west side of W201 and was delimited by a robber trench that was not excavated in the south (Fig. 4). The southern end of W201 was built of a large stone (0.52×0.55×0.90 m), placed on top of two foundation courses of fieldstones. Its northern part was built of small stones and continued into Sq 5. The southern end of W201 was perpendicular to W208 which was built of four rows of small stones and continued west beyond the limits of the excavation. It seems that the walls enclosed a room, which was only partially excavated and therefore its use remained vague. Modifications carried out in the Byzantine period also hampered the understanding of its plan (below).
Wall 202, which was parallel to W201, was exposed next to the northern section of the square. Two stones in one course of the wall were preserved (Fig 1: Section 3-3). Floor 159 was not excavated; however, judging by its style that resembles the floors found in nearby excavations (ESI 17:169) and the potsherds from the Roman period that were found in fills overlaying these floors, it seems that Floor 159 should probably be dated to the Roman period.
Square 7. A floor of finely hewn flagstones (L156; Fig. 5) was excavated. The floor abutted two stone walls (W204, W205), both of which had survived by a single stone. Several of the floor’s flagstones were preserved and in those places where they were missing, the fill below them was excavated (L162). A wall (W206) that adjoined a plaster floor (L123) was exposed south of W205. The walls and floors were not excavated, but the analysis of the construction and the finds indicate that they should be dated to the Roman period.
The Byzantine Period (fourth–seventh centuries CE)
Floors (L110 [Fig. 6], L119, L125, L154, L155), a wall (W203) and a drainage channel (L158) were ascribed to this period. Robber trenches (L120, L122; Figs. 1, 6) bordered the floors to the north, indicating the course of the other walls. Some of the walls from the Roman period continued to be used in this period (W201, W204, W205). Three sections of a colored mosaic floor (L110; Figs. 6, 7) of small tesserae (1×1 cm; 64 tesserae per decimeter) were revealed in the northeastern corner of Sq 1. It was adorned with a zigzag decoration, consisting of black, yellow, white and red tesserae and was founded on a bedding of carefully smoothed white cement (L163). The floor was not excavated, but the manner of laying down the mosaic, the bedding, the size and density of the tesserae and its similarity to the mosaic floors from Sqs 4 and 5, indicate that it should be dated to the Byzantine period. The western part of the mosaic was cut by a robber trench (L122). The floor was damaged while installing the inspection chamber for the sewer pipe and another section of the floor could be seen north of the inspection chamber during the work.
Two sections of a mosaic floor (L119), composed of white tesserae, identical in size and density to those of Floor 110, were exposed the length of the eastern section of Sq 4. The continuation of Floor 119 was excavated in Sq 5 and it covered the northern part of W207 from the Roman period (Fig. 1: Section 1-1). In the southwestern corner of Floor 119, the corner of a frame composed of black tesserae was exposed; it probably surrounded a carpet that was not preserved (Fig. 8). The floor was bounded on the west and south by robber trenches (L120, L138). South of Robber Trench 138 another mosaic floor (L125) was excavated; it was founded on top of fill above Floor 126 of the Roman period.
A plaster floor (L155; Fig. 9) was excavated west of the robber trenches; it abutted W201 in the east and continued west outside the excavated area and north below the tombs from later periods. In the south, the floor continued into Sq 6 where it abutted the northern side of a drainage channel (L158), which was built inside the room from the Roman period. It was oriented east–west and emerged from the room through a square opening that was breached in W201 (see Fig. 4). The continuation of the channel west of W201 was not preserved and it is unknown where its water was drained. Apart from numerous roof-tile fragments, no other ceramic artifacts were found in the fill that blocked the channel (Figs. 1: Section 4-4, 9). The southern side of the channel was next to a Byzantine wall (W203; width c. 0.3 m) that was built inside the Roman room, c. 0.3 m north of W208. Wall 203 was built of fieldstones and it southern side was lined with thin stones.
The stone floor of the Roman period (L156) in Sq 7 was replaced with a floor of stones in secondary use (L154) that were apparently dismantled from a wall of a very large building. The floor apparently abutted Walls 204 and 205 from the Roman period and continued north beyond the area of the square (Fig. 10).
It seems that during the Byzantine period, all the mosaic floors had been worn down and were coated with a thick layer of yellow plaster. While removing the plaster to exposed the tesserae, it became apparent that large parts of the mosaics were missing and it is unclear whether they were deliberately removed before applying the plaster or perhaps the deterioration of the floors was the reason for covering them with plaster. Potsherds dating to the Byzantine period (fifth–seventh centuries CE) were recovered from the excavation of the floors and the layers of fill beneath them.
The Umayyad Period (seventh–eighth centuries CE)
It seems that in the beginning of the period, a process of dismantling the stones commenced leaving robber trenches in their wake that indicated the course of the ancient walls around the floors. Afterward, relatively meager construction had begun. In Square 6 Floor 159 from the Roman period was covered with fill (L148) and a drainage channel (L149; width 0.2 m) was built atop the fill. During its construction, a large stone (0.5×0.5 m) in secondary use, which was cut diagonally to conform to the direction of the channel, was incorporated in the construction (Fig. 11). The northeastern end of the channel was damaged by modern activities and it apparently terminated in a robber trench. The direction of the flow in the channel was to the southwest and it is unclear where it drained. The channel was covered with a smooth plaster floor (L124) founded on stone clusters above fill (L134). The floor ended in the west at a robber trench. Potsherds dating to the seventh–eighth centuries CE were retrieved from the excavation of the fill above and below the floor.
Meager remains of an installation that extended west beyond the excavated area were discovered (Figs. 12, 13). The installation was delimited on three sides by walls (W401–W403) built of stone clusters. All that survived of the installation’s floor was its bedding (L302), which consisted of stone clusters bonded with white mortar. The poor preservation of the installation did not enable to ascertain its function. Potsherds dating from the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth centuries CE were collected from the fill above and around the installation (L301); it seems to have been built at the beginning of the Umayyad period and used only briefly.
The Abbasid Period (eighth–tenth centuries CE)
The excavation evinced two activity phases from the Abbasid period. The first phase entailed settlement and construction and the second phase was abandonment and stone robbery. In the settlement phase the ancient floors were replaced with new ones. A decline in the quality of construction compared to that of the Roman and Byzantine periods was evident. The colored mosaic floor from the Byzantine period (L110) in Sq 1 was covered with fill (L115) and a thick yellow plaster floor (L108), delimited by Robber Trench 122, was placed above it.
A very small segment of a plastered installation (L164) was excavated in Sq 3; it could not be entirely exposed due to the discovery of graves above it. Therefore, only part of the fill that blocked it was excavated (L142). A small section of a plaster floor (L109) that was damaged by later tombs was excavated in the northwestern corner of Sq 3. Potsherds dating to the Abbasid period were collected while excavating the fill below the floor (L116) and Fill 142, which blocked the installation.
Floor 155 in Sq 5 was covered with fill (L127) that was overlain with accumulated soil (L111).
Floors 123 and 154 from the Byzantine period in Sq 7 were covered with a thick layer of fill consisting of building debris, including lime and mortar (L121), and a plaster floor (L118) that covered most of the area in the square was laid above it.
Soil fill (L144) was excavated east of the floor. The region was probably abandoned in the Late Abbasid period and stone robbery for secondary use had begun. Potsherds dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE were collected from the excavation of the robber trenches in Sqs 1 and 5 (L120, L122, L138, L146) and accumulations that covered the architectural remains in several places.
The Stratum with the Graves
Numerous tombs were discovered in large parts of the excavation area (Figs. 1, 6—the area is marked in purple). All the deceased except one (L117; Fig. 12) were interred directly in the ground and not in a built tomb. Grave 117 was a cist tomb. Its walls were built of stone slabs set on their narrow side and its covering used similar slabs. While excavating the accumulations between the graves and above them (L100–L105) potsherds dating to the Umayyad and Abbasid periods (seventh–tenth centuries CE) were found, as well as several potsherds from the Mamluk (thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE) and the Ottoman (nineteenth to the second half of twentieth centuries) periods, including a fragment of a Turkish pipe that has a burnished light brown slip. It therefore appears that a Muslim cemetery developed in this area, yet without excavating the graves it is not possible to determine when the interments began.
Pottery vessels that dated from the Roman period until the Abbasid period were recovered from all the strata in the excavation. These included an African Red Slip bowl dating to the Roman period (Fig. 15:1); a rouletted bowl of Magness’ Type 2A (Fig. 15:2; Magness J. 1993. The Late Roman and Byzantine Pottery from the City of David. In A. De Groot and D.T. Ariel [eds.] Excavations at the City of David 1978-1985, Directed by Yigal Shiloh, Vol. III [Qedem 33]:149–186), and a Type 2B rouletted bowl (Fig. 15:3), both dating to the sixth century CE; a cooking pot from the fifth–sixth centuries CE (Fig. 15:4); a Gaza jar from the fifth–seventh centuries CE (Fig. 15:5); an Agora Form M334 type amphora from the fifth–seventh centuries CE (Fig. 15:6); a saqiye vessel fragment from the fourth–fifth centuries CE (Fig. 15:9); an amphora of Keay’s Type VII, dating to the fifth–sixth centuries CE (Fig. 15: 7; Keay S.J. 1984. Late Roman Amphorae in the Western Mediterranean [BAR Int. Ser. 196]); a Type LRA7 Umayyad amphora from the seventh–eighth centuries CE (L146; Fig. 15:8); a base of an Abbasid jug from the ninth–tenth centuries CE (L120; Fig. 15:10) and an Abbasid jar from the eighth–tenth CE (Fig. 15:11).
Most of the glass vessels from the site date to the Byzantine period; some of them may have continued into the Umayyad period. One of the fragments (L125) is attributed to the Late Roman period and several others (Loci 100, 101 and 301) date from Medieval and Modern times.
The finds from the Byzantine period include bowls, wineglasses, bottles, oil lamps and windowpanes of types characteristic of the period. A thin-walled rim and wall fragment of a wineglass (Fig. 16:1) and a wineglass foot (Fig. 16:3) come from the same provenance (L102) and may have belonged to the same vessel. The thin-walled solid wineglass foot (Fig. 16:3) is flawed and its base is unsealed. The bottle (L112; Fig. 16:2) has a thin trail of the same color as the bottle, wound around the mouth/neck; it is one of the most widespread types in this period. The massive loop handle (L142; Fig. 16:4) is attached to a thin wall and probably belonged to an oil lamp from the Byzantine or Early Islamic periods. The quadrangular windowpanes (L102; thickness 3–5 mm; Fig. 16:5, 6) are broken, yet in one of the panes (Fig. 16:5) the rounded edge is preserved.
Four coins representing four periods were discovered: A Byzantine follies of Anastasius I that wasminted in Constantinople (L111; 512–518 CE; IAA 140229); a Byzanto-Arab coin (L104; 647–670 CE; IAA 140231); an Umayyad post-reform fals (L302; eighth century CE; IAA 140232); and a Mamluk fals of Sultan Barquq (L102; 1389–1398 CE; IAA 140230).
Five strata representing five periods were uncovered in the excavation. The earliest stratum dates to the Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE). The buildings from the Byzantine period, constructed on top of the architectural remains from the Roman period, made secondary use of the large building stones, which allude to a spacious Roman structure that was located in the immediate proximity. It seems that the settlement also continued in the Umayyad period, but declined during the Abbasid period, when heavy plundering of masonry stones for secondary use took place. In the aftermath, the area was apparently not occupied and a cemetery was established on top of the remains, with most of the dead having been interred directly into the ground and not in built tombs. The graves were not excavated; hence it is not known when the cemetery was established or how long it was used. The excavation finds indicate that a wealthy district, dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods, had extended over a large area and was partially exposed in other excavations in the vicinity, as well as in the current one