During February–March 2011, an excavation was conducted in the upper part of the Ben-Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6103; map ref. 221511–68/631358–401), prior to the construction of a park named in honor of Teddy Kollek. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Jerusalem Foundation, was directed by I. Zilberbod, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), M. Kunin, B. Antin, M. Kahan and Y. Shmidov (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), Sky View Company (aerial photography) and G. Solar (conservation architect).
An excavation at the site was conducted in 2010 (Permit No. A-5845); building remains dating to the Roman period were discovered and remains of a large architectural complex from the Byzantine period, which had an early phase (fourth–fifth centuries CE) and a late phase (sixth–seventh centuries CE), was exposed. The southern façade of a moden building from the neighborhood of Jurat al-‘Anab was partially exposed just north of the Byzantine complex. This neighborhood, founded in 1894 west of Jaffa Gate, was abandoned in 1948. The building is the only one from this neighborhood that had survived to date. The current excavation revealed wall remains that belonged to a complex from the Byzantine period and adjacent to its north were remains of the modern building from the Jurat al-‘Anab neighborhood and below them remains of a large water reservoir. The excavation in the modern building was done manually and with the aid of mechanical equipment (Figs. 1–3).
An unexcavated area (width c. 5 m) remained next to the southern side of the modern building in 2010. During this season, the tops of walls that belonged to a complex from the Byzantine period were exposed; some walls were dated to the Early Byzantine period (W10–W13, W15) and some to the Late Byzantine period (W9; Fig. 4). A large deep water reservoir (depth c. 9.5 m) that included three cisterns was exposed adjacent to the northern side of these walls. The western cistern was exposed in its entirety (5.5×6.0 m) and the two others were not excavated. Arches belonging to an ancient building were discerned in the walls of the excavated cistern, which might be part of the structure from the Byzantine period; in a later phase of the building, the arches were blocked with stones and several layers of gray plaster were applied to the walls (Fig. 5). The fill inside the cistern, which consisted of small stones and soil, was poured into it when a building above it was being constructed. The two adjacent cisterns continued to be used as such after a modern structure was built above them and it therefore seems that with the construction of this building, a retaining wall (D; Fig. 6) was erected 1.5 m south of the cisterns.
The later building constructed above the cisterns is a large structure with a trapezoidal plan and its area exactly overlaps that of the cisterns beneath it (11×17 m; Figs. 7, 8). The building has three large rooms (A—5.5×6.0 m; B—5.5×8.5 m; C—5.5×10.0 m) and arches between them (max. height 2 m), some of which were blocked during repairs and later renovations (Fig. 9). The main entrance and three windows in the southern façade of the building were preserved almost in their entirety. A doorway and three windows that were partially sealed by construction in a later phase were preserved between Rooms B and C (Fig. 10). The opening of the eastern cistern was exposed next to the southwestern corner of Room C (Figs. 11, 12). It seems that Room C was not covered at first, but rather was an open courtyard; in a later phase, another story was built above it, of which railroad ties that were used as beams for the floor level had survived. A large arched niche that was built in the eastern wall of the room was exposed in Room B (Fig. 13). The walls of the upper story were preserved two–three courses high above the niche. Rooms B and C were paved with large flagstones (Figs. 14, 15); the floor in Room A was not preserved.