During February, April and July 2001 a salvage excavation was conducted on ‘En Kerem Street, near the corner of Ha-Ma‘ayan Street, c. 200 m northeast of the spring in the ‘En Kerem neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-3365*; map ref. NIG 215467–96/630414–23; OIG 165467–96/130414–23; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a parking lot. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Government Tourism Corporation, was directed by R. Avner, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), C. Amit (field and numismatic photography), N. Ze’evi (pottery drawing), E. Altmark (metallurgical laboratory) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Four squares were opened (Fig. 2). In the west of the excavation area a wall (W10; length 3.6 m, width 0.95 m), running east–west, was discovered. The wall, preserved a single course high (0.28 m), was built of two rows of stones with a soil-filled core. The stones in the southern face were larger than those in the northern face. The wall was not associated with any floor and therefore could not be dated.
Two walls and floors, ascribed to the Byzantine period, were discovered in the eastern part of the excavation area. The western wall (W13; width 0.35–0.55 m), extended over a distance of 6.55 m along a north–south axis and preserved a single course high (0.2 m), was founded on bedrock. The eastern wall (W12, width 0.4–0.6 m), preserved three courses high (max. height 0.34 m), was discovered over a length of 9.8 m. The southern part of W12 continued parallel to W13 and its northern part curved slightly to the northwest. A fieldstone floor (L11; 2.2 × 4.5 m) between the two walls abutted them. The floor was mostly survived by its bedding (L13). A coin of Alexander Jannaeus (IAA No. 95765) was found on the floor, although it apparently did not belong to this building. While dismantling the floor’s bedding (L13) a concentration of 13 bronze coins was discovered with four nails nearby. The nails probably remained from a wooden box in which the coins were hidden. Most of the coins were too worn to be legible; however, it seems these were Byzantine nummia, one of which was definitely identified and dated to the fifth–sixth centuries CE (IAA No. 95769). The bedding of the floor (L13) was placed directly above a fill of terra rosa (L15) that contained fragments of pottery vessels from the end of the Hellenistic period and the Early Roman period (first century BCE–first century CE; Fig. 3:2–9), an additional coin from the time of Alexander Jannaeus (IAA 95771), as well as a fragment of an Iron Age cooking pot (Fig. 3:1).
A buff-colored tamped earthen floor (L21; 1.3 × 2.6 m) abutted the northern part of W12 from the east. Potsherds dating from the end of the Byzantine period and the beginning of the Umayyad period (Fig. 3:10–14) were found on the floor and in a probe cut below it, as well as a follis from the time of Constans II (659–668CE; IAA No. 95766; Figs. 4, 5). Coins of Constans II are rare in the country and this coin, which was struck in Syracuse, Sicily, is particularly exceptional. Only two coins of this type, struck in the mint of Syracuse, were recovered from excavations in the country. One came from Mesilot (IAA. No 81855), excavated by A. Druks in 1968 and the second––from an excavation by Y. Baruch in 1997 in Jerusalem (IAA No. 95491). Two other coins of the same denomination that were also minted in Syracuse were retrieved from excavations in the country, but dated slightly later, to the time of Constantine IV (668–674 CE). They were found in the Temple Mount excavations (IAA No. 44707) and at ‘En Ya‘el (IAA No. 68406). It thus seems that follis from Syracuse began to arrive in the region in the second half of the seventh century CE. The coin found in the present excavation may date the end of the settlement at ‘En Kerem to the beginning of the Umayyad period.
The remains from the Byzantine period were consistent with contemporary remains that were exposed in ‘En Kerem in the past. These included primarily two churches, excavated by the Franciscan fathers: the Church of the Visitation by Bagatti and the church discovered by Father Saller beneath the Church of John in the Mountains. It has also become clear that the Byzantine settlement continued uninterrupted after the Arab conquest, slightly post the second half of the seventh century CE. The ceramic evidence from the Second Temple period coincides, as well, with the information from the excavators’ reports, as well as findings from soundings that were carried out in recent years (B. Zissu, The Rural Settlement in the Judean Hills and Shephelah, from the End of the Second Temple to the Suppression of the Bar Kokhba Uprising, 2002:86–87).