During August 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted on Zerhi Street in the Ramot Alon neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6278; map ref. 21777–9/63649–51), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Neta Lipschitz Company, Ltd., was directed by N. German (photography), with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration) and M. Kunin (surveying).
The excavation area (Fig. 1) was located within the precincts of the Khirbat el-Burj antiquities site, where settlement remains from the Middle Ages, as well as from Middle Bronze Age II, Iron Age, Persian and Crusader periods, were discovered and excavated in the past (HA 45:26 [Hebrew], ESI 14:88–90, 16:97, HA-ESI 115:80*; Permit Nos. A-1769, A-1881, and A-2202).
A bell-shaped cistern (max. diam. c. 5 m, depth c. 4.5 m; Fig. 2) hewn in hard limestone bedrock was excavated. The cistern opening is a hewn shaft (diam. c. 0.8 m, depth c. 0.5 m; Fig. 3). The sides of the cistern were lined with three layers of mortar and plaster. The bottom layer (thickness 0.25–0.30 m), composed of mortar mixed with small stones, was used to fill the cavities and pockets created when the cistern was hewn. A layer of white plaster (thickness c. 5 cm) was applied on top of the mortar. The exterior layer consisted of gray hydraulic plaster (thickness c. 0.5 cm), which turned a shade of green because of the moist conditions. The bottom of the cistern, also lined with plaster, was not flat.
The fill in the cistern included modern construction debris, soil and stones, some of which were dressed, which completely blocked the installation from the bottom to the very top (Fig. 4).
Based on the method of construction, it seems that the cistern was built in the modern era or at the earliest during the Ottoman period.