During October 2001 and January 2002 two salvage excavations were conducted next to the ‘Ramses’ Hostel at 20 Ha-Nevi’im Street in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-3523*; Fig. 1), in the wake of constructing the light railway line. The excavations, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Moriya Company, were directed by R. Avner, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), I. Berin (drafting), C. Amit (field photography), I. Lidski (pottery drawing), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), D.T. Ariel (numismatics) and Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass).
The first excavation was adjacent to the hostel’s southwestern side (Area A) and the second took place next to the building’s northern wall (Area B).
Area A (8 × 10 m; Figs. 2, 3); three strata were discerned.
Stratum I. Stump of a wall (W106), built on bedrock and preserved four courses high (1.9 m), was found. The exposed side of the wall consisted of medium and large stones with soil between them. The wall could not be dated with certainty, yet a coin dating to 408–425 CE (IAA Reg. No. 96497) and recovered from the fill on the natural bedrock probably belonged to this layer.
Stratum II. Part of a room (Loci 1001, 1014) delineated by three walls (W101, W103, W105) was discovered. The walls were built of two rows of carelessly dressed large and medium stones with a core of soil and small stones (preserved height 0.4–1.9 m). During a later phase of this stratum the southern part of W101 was made thicker after Wall 101A, which was constructed from a row of medium-sized stones, soil fill and small stones, adjoined its eastern side. A flagstone floor (L1021) probably belonged to the later phase of Stratum II.
Stratum III was a modern drainage channel (L1005) of gray concrete.
The potsherds and fragments of glass vessels recovered from the excavated areas are dated to the later part of the Byzantine period and the Early Islamic period and include bowls (Fig. 4:1–3), cooking pots (Fig. 4:4–7) and a jar (Fig. 4:8). Three coins were found: two fulus of the Zanjid ruler Al-‘Adil Nur al-Din Mahmud (1146–1173 CE; IAA No. 96495, 96496) and a Mamluk fals of an unidentified ruler (IAA Reg. No. 96493).
Some 80 m east of Area A, four parallel vaults (width 3–4 m; Fig. 5) oriented northwest– southeast toward Damascus Gate, were cleaned and documented. The vaults were built of carelessly dressed medium-sized stones and gray friable bonding material between them. The walls’ inner face was coated with a layer of gray plaster (3 cm thick). The excavation in the northeastern corner of the northernmost vault (1.9 m deep) revealed floor tiles that were decorated in a style common to the beginning of the twentieth century, especially in the wealthy Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. A square window (0.85 × 0.85 m) was in the second vault from the north. The chronological relationship between the vaults and the drainage channel (L1005) is unclear, although they were probably contemporary.
Area B (3 × 10 m; Fig. 6). Three layers were discerned: two modern (III, II) and one ancient (I).
Stratum III. A floor (L1022) of gray plaster was attributed to this layer.
Stratum II included three walls (W106–W108), one of which (W108) was built of two rows of crudely dressed large and medium-sized stones with a core of medium-sized fieldstones and soil; it was coated with gray plaster (5 cm thick) on its western side. The wall belonged to a vault that was preserved five courses high (1.74 m).
Stratum I had traces of rock-cuttings, quarry debris, potsherds from the Byzantine period and a few modern potsherds, which probably penetrated from the later strata that were discerned on bedrock.
The stratigraphic and chronological relationship between the finds from the two areas is unclear because the areas were too small and not contiguous.