In January and February 2019, a salvage excavation was conducted on Shazar Boulevard in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-8461; map ref. 219593/632723; Fig. 1) prior to the construction of the main eastern entrance to the city. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Moriah Company, was directed by R. Cohen (supervision and preliminary inspections), with the assistance of N. Nehama and R. Abu Khalaf (administration), S. Halevi (surveying, field photography and photogrammetry), D. Tanami (metal detection), A. Zakaim (plans), I. Lidsky-Reznikov (finds drawing), I. Reznitsky (metallurgical laboratory), H. Sokolov (numismatics) and T. Lieberman (pottery).
The excavation, conducted in two areas c. 15 m apart (Fig. 2), uncovered wall foundations and sections of a compacted ash layer that may have been a floor. Ceramic finds and coins from the second–first centuries BCE were also discovered. Previous excavations in the area revealed various remains dating from the Iron Age to the Ottoman period (for background and references, see Cohen 2018; Be’eri and Levi 2018).
The Southeastern Area (Figs. 3, 4). Foundations were uncovered of two adjoining walls (W108—length 15.3 m, width 0.8 m, preserved height 0.25–0.50 m; W110—length 3.7 m, width 0.7 m, preserved height c. 0.15 m; Figs. 5, 6). The foundations were placed on bedrock and were built of small and medium-sized fieldstones bonded with gray mortar. Wall 108 had been cut into (L126) by mechanical equipment, and its western part was damaged by infrastructure work, while W110 had been truncated by concrete pillars cast before the excavation. No floors were identified. A fill of brown garden soil around the walls and in all the excavation squares yielded worn potsherds mostly typical of the Hasmonean period, including two bowl fragments (Fig. 7:2, 3) from the second century BCE. Two coins were also recovered: one of John Hyrcanus I (125–105 BCE; IAA 173186) and the other an unidentified Hasmonean coin (IAA 173188). The walls cannot be dated based on the finds.
The Northwestern Area (Figs. 8, 9). The area was disturbed by modern infrastructure, including a drainage pipe (L130). The excavation revealed a wall (W128; excavated length 4 m, width 0.8 m, preserved height c. 0.4 m) that had been truncated by concrete pillars cast before the excavation. A soil fill (L129) was uncovered on the eastern side of the wall, beneath which were parts of a compacted ash layer (L133; floor?) of uneven height; the ash layer clearly abutted the wall. This ash layer was not found to the west of W128 nor in a trench dug east of the excavation square. A small probe (0.50 × 0.65 m, excavated depth to bedrock c. 0.2 m) dug between parts of the ash layer (L133) revealed a layer of soil (L137) beneath the ash layer L133. This probe was excavated to isolate finds from the various strata for dating purposes; it yielded two Alexander Jannaeus coins (80/79 BCE and later; IAA 173187, 173189), one on the ash layer L133 and the other in L137. The coins date both layers to the same period. In the soil accumulations covering the area, pottery fragments were found that include a bowl (Fig. 7:1), cooking pots (most of the finds; Fig. 7:4–10), a jar (Fig. 7:11), jugs (Fig. 7:12, 13) and the base of a stand (Fig. 7:14), all dating from the second–first centuries BCE.
The excavation uncovered sparse remains, possibly parts of the fringes of a Jewish potters’ village that operated south of the excavation area during the Hasmonean period and up until the Great Revolt (Be’eri and Levi 2018).
Be’eri R. and Levi D. 2018. Pottery Production in Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period until the Second Jewish Revolt in Light of the Crown Plaza Hotel and Jerusalem International Convention Center Excavations. Cathedra 168:7–38 (Hebrew; English summary, p. 211).
Cohen R. 2018. Jerusalem, Meqor Barukh. HA-ESI 130.