In October–November 2007 and February 2008, salvage excavations were conducted in the Bishop’s House compound on Ha-Nevi’im Street, Jerusalem (Permit Nos. A-5249, A-5392; map ref. 22115–8/63235–8; Fig. 1). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Azorim Company, was directed by G. Solimany, with the assistance of D. Levi and K. Masarwa (area supervision), Y. Ohayon and R. Abu Halaf (administration), V. Essman, M. Kipnis, M. Kunin, T. Kornfeld and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (field photography), T. Winter (glass), I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing), C. Amit (studio photography) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Five excavation areas (A–E; Fig. 2) were opened, revealing two strata with building remains. The early stratum included a large building paved with stone slabs dating to the Byzantine period. The later stratum included remains of a building, a path, a stone fence and an agricultural terrace wall, all ascribed to the Ottoman period.
Byzantine Period. Remains of a large rectangular building (25 × 50 m), aligned east–west, were exposed in Areas A, B and D. The walls of the structure were founded on small fieldstones and were built of large dressed stones and a fill of small fieldstones. The northern and western parts of the building were flanked by corridors of equal width (3 m), each of which was delimited by two walls. A wall aligned east–west situated 15 m from the northern corridor and parallel to it was exposed in the southern part of the building; it was apparently part of the corridor that bounded the building from the south. A white plaster floor was discovered in the northern corridor. Thick stone slabs were placed on the tops of the southern wall of the northern corridor and on the wall in the southern part of the building. It appears that they were used as bases for stone columns. In the building’s center, in the space between the corridors, was an open area (width c. 15 m) paved with thin stone slabs. In the northwestern part of the structure were built plastered installations resembling bathtubs. The building’s entrances were not uncovered, but, judging by the plan, it seems that there was an opening in the eastern side. The stone pavement that extended throughout most of the building was close to the surface, and thus, the finds that were discovered on the floor were mixed with modern material. An undisturbed habitation level dated to the Byzantine period (fourth–seventh centuries CE) was only discovered in the vicinity of the installations in the northwestern part of the building. Beneath the building’s floor was an earthen fill that contained many fragments of pottery vessels from the Byzantine period, including lamps and a bowl with a cross stamped in its center, roof tiles stamped with different impressions, many fragments of marble slabs, a marble bowl, a large number of tesserae, mostly white and some colored, a large quantity of broken glass lamps, fragments of glass windowpanes and many glass tesserae that were used as inlay in the walls of the building. The finds beneath the floor of the building are of an earlier date than the building. A lead amulet with a Greek inscription dating to the Byzantine period was found on the plaster floor in the northern corridor. Based on the building’s plan and the artifacts discovered inside, it was apparently a public building connected to a complex of monasteries and dwellings that was constructed outside the city walls during the Byzantine period.
Ottoman Period. Remains of a building, in which two construction phases were discerned, were discovered in Area E. A path in Area B consisted of two enclosure walls built of medium-sized and small fieldstones and a fill of small white gravelly stones. A stone fence was constructed parallel to the path; it abutted the wall of a modern building located south of the excavation area. Remains of an agricultural terrace wall were discovered in Area C; excavation of these remains revealed tobacco pipes, glazed pottery, porcelain and black Gaza ware. It seems that the remains from this period were related to the building and the houses erected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries CE, when construction on Ha-Nevi’im Street commenced.