The excavation area, comprising Area U and an adjacent series of rock-cut rooms (Area C), was situated on the eastern slope of the City of David, between the entrance to the Warren Shaft System in the west and the Gihon Spring in the east. Several excavations were carried out in the past in this area, including M. Parker’s Galleries XVIII and XIX (Vincent 1911) and Area C, excavated by R. Reich and E. Shukron (Reich and Shukron 2010a; 2010b; 2011; Reich 2011:148–152, 248–261). The present excavation continues a series of previous campaigns in Area U, which began in 2013 (Szanton and Uziel 2015; Dan-Goor 2017; Hagbi and Uziel 2017; Chalaf and Uziel 2018; Chalaf and Uziel 2020). The 2020 excavation revealed remains from the late Iron Age and the Hellenistic periods (Fig. 1).
Iron Age. Two segments of an imposing north–south wall of the late Iron Age were exposed: one segment (W20005; length 14.1 m, min. width 4 m, height 2.9 m) in the northern part of the excavation area, and a smaller segment (W20021; length 3 m, preserved width 2.5 m, min. height 2 m) in the southern part of the area. The core of W20005 is built of densely packed fieldstones that lean against the bedrock, while its eastern, exterior face is built of roughly cut medium–large stones, and extensive parts of it were covered with plaster (Fig. 2). Wall 20021 was uncovered in the eastern half of Room 6 of the rock-cut rooms (Fig. 3; Reich and Shukron 2011). The part of the wall that connected these two segments was partly cut by later construction, including a round installation (W15019), and was partly dismantled in earlier excavations (W13 of Parker’s excavation; length 3 m; see Vincent 1911:25, Pl. VI, Fig. 1; for a description of another dismantled wall segment [length 5 m], see Reich and Shukron 2011). Nevertheless, it is strongly indicated by their same orientation and architectural style that these two segments were part of a single wall. This wall also appears to be the southern continuation of Kenyon’s Wall 1 of the late Iron Age (Franken and Steiner 1990; Steiner 2001), drawing on the same considerations of similarity in orientation and architectural style. This conclusion is reinforced by the observation that W20021, W20005 and Kenyon’s Wall 1 feature buttresses. It thus appears that all these various wall segments were part of the city wall of the late Iron Age.
A drainage channel (L19118; preserved length 1.1 m, width 0.5 m, depth 0.5 m) was uncovered atop W20005.
The excavation also exposed a previously unexcavated part of rock-cut Room 7 (1.2 × 1.5 m; Fig. 4), the southernmost of the rock-cut rooms found along the slope. The time when these rooms were first constructed and their function remain unclear (for a discussion of this question, see Szanton 2013); what is clear, however, is that they went out of use with the building of the city wall in the late Iron Age. A building post-dating the rock-cut rooms was erected above the southern and eastern parts of Room 7 (Szanton and Uziel 2015; Hagbi and Uziel 2017); belonging to this later building, are a wall overlying the eastern part of Room 7 and a vault behind it, on its eastern side.
Hellenistic Period. A large round structure (W19202; diam. 6 m) constructed of large fieldstones, the interior of which was filled with heavy debris, was partly exposed in the northern part of the excavation area. This structure cuts into the upper part of Iron Age W20005, while using its lower three courses as a base. A thick fill of beaten dirt and small-sized stones overlay the top of W20005 and abutted W19202; the function of W19202 is not clear at present. Preliminary analysis of the pottery and other finds from this fill indicates a date in the Hellenistic–Hasmonean period (the second century BCE), which also applies to W19202. A large slanting fill (glacis), leaning against the eastern exterior face of W20005, may be ascribed to this period, although at present its precise date remains unclear. This fill consists of a layer of dirt and a layer of stones, which are covered with a thick coating of plaster (c. 0.3 m).
The most important find unearthed in the present excavation are the two segments of the late Iron Age city wall, which appear to have connected to Wall 1 of K. Kenyon’s excavations (Steiner 2001; Franken and Steiner 1986). Another large segment of the city wall of this period (W219) was previously reported by Y. Shiloh in Areas E South, E North and D2, situated about 30 m south of Area U (De Groot and Bernick-Greenberg 2012). It, therefore, appears that the city wall of that period traversed the entire eastern slope of the City of David.