In April–May 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted at 6 Ha-Deqel Street in the Bet Ya‘aqov neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-7113; map ref. 2200/6325; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by S. Kisilevitz, with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), V. Essman and Y. Shmidov (surveying and drafting), N. Zak and D. Porotzki (plans) and D. Levy (GIS).
Part of a plastered installation dating to the early twentieth century CE was exposed in the Bet Ya‘aqov neighborhood. It was located not far from a cistern and a synagogue that were built with the establishment of the neighborhood in the late nineteenth century CE, and adjacent, on the south, to a ritual bath (miqveh) that was built in 1901; The installation and the bath seem to have been part of one building. In the mid-twentieth century, the bath was converted for use in the Moriya candy factory, which operated there until recently. During this period, many changes were made to the building. With the beginning of construction work at the site, the factory buildingwas demolished and the plastered installation was exposed; much of it was destroyed and filled with soil and debris.
The plastered installation was founded on a bedrock step which sloped to the south (Fig. 2). Evidence of three drillings (Fig. 3) done prior to the building of the installation was discerned on the step; no other quarrying marks or signs of stone dressing were noted. One of the drill marks was covered with plaster. Although its southern and eastern parts were not preserved, the installation seems to have been originally rectangular in shape. Its northern and western walls were unearthed, as was a large portion of the floor. The walls of the installation (W10 in the west, W11in the north; Fig. 4) utilized the bedrock and were built in places where it was low or where there were hollows in the rock. The walls were built of medium-sized, roughly hewn stones, with smaller stones and a large amount of reddish brown soil in between; the smaller stones were probably debris that remained from dressing the building stones. Another wall (W12) was exposed above W10. It was built of similar stones as those used in Walls 10 and 11, and these were bonded with light-colored mortar. It seems that W12 demarcated an area south of the installation and the building in which it was situated. The walls of the installation and its bedrock floor were treated with white plaster containing crushed chalk, gravel and grog (thickness 1.5–5.0 cm) applied to gray plaster mixed with lumps of charcoal and organic material (twigs and straw). The plaster layers applied to the installation’s floor (L100a, L100b; preserved dimensions of the plaster: 3.4–6.5 × 6.4 m) were placed on a bedding meant to level the bedrock. The bedding was made of red-brown soil and small stones similar to the small stones in the installation’s walls (Fig. 5). The two layers of plaster indicate that the installation was intended for storing liquid. The plaster floor in the middle of the installation was damaged along its entire width by a trench (width c. 1.3 m) that revealed the bedrock floor (Fig. 6); this might be a robber trench of a wall that divided the installation into two units. No remains of steps were discovered inside the installation, as it was probably entered from the northeast, in an area that was not preserved.
A fragment of a roof tile dating to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century CE and part of a red plastic bracelet were found while dismantling the bedding of the installation’s floor.
The plastered installation exposed in the excavation was built in the twentieth century CE and was used to store liquid. Its location, right to the south of the ritual bath that was constructed in 1901 and continued in use until the 1940s, suggests that the installation, which may have originally comprised two pools, functioned as part of the miqveh. The installation probably served as an underground pool when the building was constructed; it was presumably entered through the building from the north or northeast. After the miqveh went out of use, its facilities were destroyed over the years and probably along with them the installation was destroyed as well. When Ha-Deqel Street was paved to the south of the building, a retaining wall was built between the street and the building which resulted in a raised step above the street. In the wake of this construction activity, the southern and eastern parts of the installation were completely destroyed and filled with earth and debris.