The excavations along the various parts of the Stepped Street (Fig. 1), which was laid in the first century CE and led from the Siloam Pool in the south to the Temple Mount in the north, were conducted by several expeditions, beginning in the late nineteenth century CE (Szanton et al. 2019; Szanton et al. 2020, and see description of the research history there; Hagbi et al. 2022). The current excavations encompassed six areas along the length of the street, described here from south to north (Fig. 2: Areas S15, S17, S11, S12, S16, S6). These excavations uncovered long segments of the Stepped Street and documented buildings and installations along it. As in previous excavations, the current excavation identified eight strata in the Stepped Street (VIII–I; Table 1), dating from the first century CE to the modern era.
Table 1. Excavation stratigraphy of the Stepped Street
Early Roman (first century CE)
S6, S11, S12, S15, S16, 17
Early Roman — Destruction of the Great Revolt (70 CE)
S6, S10, S11, S12, S16
Post-Great Revolt (late first century–mid-second century CE)
Late Roman (second–fourth centuries CE)
S6, S10, S12
Byzantine (fifth–seventh centuries CE)
S11, S15
Early Islamic (Umayyad and Abbasid; seventh–eighth centuries CE).
Late Roman to twentieth century CE
S5, S15, S16
Modern (late twentieth–early twenty-first centuries CE)
S16, S17
The excavations were conducted in a busy urban context, and the excavation method was adapted accordingly. Prior to the excavations, complex engineering operations were conducted to retain the soil and stabilize the area, including drilling and pouring concrete piles to form a supporting casing around each excavation area. The shape of the supporting casing, arched or rectangular, was determined by the excavation area. Each area was first excavated horizontally to a depth of c. 1.5 m, after which the excavation continued vertically.
Area S15 (Fig. 3)
Stratum IV—Byzantine period (fifth–seventh centuries CE). A paved surface (L15050) was uncovered continuing from the Second Temple-period stone plaza north of the Siloam Pool (Reich and Shukron 2005). The paving stones (0.3 × 0.5 × 0.6 m) were rectangular and smooth on top, and small compared with the Second Temple-period paving stones. The paving stones were set on a bedding composed of brown-gray mortar and small stones; this was laid directly on top of the bedrock, which exhibited no signs of prior quarrying or chiseling. The bedding yielded potsherds dating from no later than the sixth century CE.
Stratum III—Early Islamic period (seventh–eighth centuries CE). The remains in Stratum IV were sealed by a thick fill (thickness c. 0.7 m) of dark brown soil mixed with small fieldstones. This soil fill was overlain by a wall built of two rows of stones (W15030; length 1.75 m, width 0.6 m, height 1.1 m) built on a southeast–northwest axis of roughly dressed stones bonded with clay; it was preserved to a height of two courses. The wall’s core yielded seventh-century CE potsherds. To the east of W15030, a rectangular installation was revealed (L15014; 0.6 × 1.0 m, height c. 0.4 m; Fig. 4), which was built of fieldstones of various sizes and only partially preserved.
Stratum II. The excavation uncovered an accumulation of soil (thickness c. 1.5 m) that had gravitated down from Mount Zion. The displaced soil contained many ancient finds mixed with modern finds.
Area S17 (Fig. 5)
Stratum VIII—Early Roman period (first century CE). The excavation uncovered the main drainage channel from the late Second Temple period (length c. 7 m, width c. 1 m). Modern activity had evidently severely damaged the channel’s remains. The channel’s two walls (W17001, W17002) were built of fieldstones and partially dressed stones. The eastern wall (W17002) was not preserved in the southern part of the channel, where large fieldstones were found instead (L17007). The bottom of the channel was lined with stone slabs (L17009), which were preserved over a length of c. 3 m and a width of c. 1 m. The channel was not plastered. Only the lower courses of the channel were preserved (L17000; exposed length c. 3.5 m, height c. 0.6 m). Its upper part had been destroyed by modern disturbance.
Stratum IModern (late twentieth–early twenty-first centuries CE) The late Second Temple-period main drainage channel contained soil that had accumulated in it after the channel was longer in use (L17003; depth 2 m). This soil accumulation filled the channel along its entire excavated length. The soil yielded finds dating from the end of the Second Temple period to the modern era.
Area S11 (Fig. 6)
Stratum VIII—Early Roman period (first century CE). The excavation uncovered a built installation coated with dark gray plaster (L20391; Fig. 7). The installation contained two built and plastered square collecting vats, the northern (L20333) higher than the southern (L20327), separated by a built partition. An arched channel (L20301) that passed through the center of the partition connected the two vats.
Stratum VIIDestruction of the Great Revolt (70 CE). Installation 20391 was sealed beneath a layer of homogeneous soil (L20328) dated by ceramic finds to the late Second Temple period.
Stratum IV—Byzantine period (fifth–seventh centuries CE). The Church of Siloam was built on the site in this phase. It was first excavated in 1894–1897 by Bliss and Dickie (1898), who partially uncovered the church (3.5 × 23.0 m). Additional parts of the church were revealed by the current excavation. The eastern parts of the atrium and the narthex were excavated, completing the plan of the atrium and a partial plan of the narthex. Flooring (L20146) paved with large rectangular stone slabs (0.25 × 0.50–0.67 × 0.80–1.30 m) laid in rows was revealed in the atrium. Adjacent to the atrium’s southern wall (W20173) was a stone step (L20174; excavated length 2 m, width 0.5 m, height 0.4 m) built of rectangular ashlars (0.20 × 0.25 × 0.60 m) that were placed directly on top of the atrium floor. This step may have served as a bench.
A long narrow strip (2.0–4.5 × 20.0 m) was excavated immediately to the east of the church, revealing remains of later additions to the church, probably dating from the seventh century CE, including a mosaic-paved room and a chapel.
The mosaic-paved room (estimated dimensions 15.8 sq m; Fig. 8) was only partially excavated since it extended beyond the current excavation limits. It was built immediately to the east of W20278. The room’s eastern wall (W20321; length c. 5 m, preserved height c. 1.1 m) was built of fieldstones and dressed stones in secondary use and coated with dark gray plaster. The room’s southern wall (W20325; length 2 m, width c. 1 m, preserved height 3 m) was built of ashlars; the chapel flanked its southern side. The room was paved with a white mosaic floor (L20262; tesserae dimensions 1 × 2 × 2 cm) set on a bedding of tamped gray soil containing small stones (L20309). The western part of the mosaic floor was laid on top of W20278. The mosaic floor and W20321 abutted W20325.    
The chapel (c. 3.6 × 4.4 m, height c. 4.2 m; Fig. 9) was built adjacent to the northern side of the church’s central apse. The room is built of two architectural units one above the other—a chapel room on the upper level and a crypt on the lower level—and two building phases were identified. Two walls (W20362, W20393; Fig. 10) forming the room’s northeastern corner were revealed on the upper level. This corner incorporated a pilaster (W20353; visible height c. 1.5 m), only the upper part of which was exposed; its continuation downward was coated with plaster. A rectangular stone (0.92 × 1.10 m) at the top of the pilaster served as a capital of sorts. Concave grooves carved on this stone were designed to support two stone arches that sprang from it, one to the south and the other to the west. These arches, and probably others that were not preserved, evidently provided architectural support for the room’s ceiling. A rounded east-facing alcove built in the center of W20362 was paved with white marble slabs. Four deep grooves discovered in W20393 were arranged in a row and contained iron pegs, which were used to secure the floorboards of the chapel room. On the chapel’s lower level, the crypt (Fig. 11)—another rounded alcove, built directly beneath the alcove on the upper level. The dome of the alcove was coated with plaster that acted as bedding for a wall mosaic. A curved shelf at the base of the dome was inserted into a row of grooves in the wall. The bedrock surface, which had apparently been leveled, served as the floor of the rounded alcove. A low stone partition (length 0.78 m, width 0.3 m, height 0.73 m) built in front of the alcove was coated with gray plaster.
Area S12
Stratum VIII—Early Roman period (first century CE). Another segment of the Stepped Street was excavated (L12117; excavated length c. 27 m; Figs. 12, 13). Steps were built along c. 5 m in the north of this part of the street.
Stratum VIIDestruction of the Great Revolt (70 CE). Above the street, along about 17 m of the excavated segment was a layer of dark brown soil (L12145; width c. 2.5 m, thickness c. 0.3 m; Fig. 14). This soil layer contained a large quantity of burnt organic matter and potsherds dated to the end of the Second Temple period. The layer was buried under collapsed stones (L12142; thickness c. 1.2 m), which included ashlars that probably came from the buildings flanking the street on both sides.
Stratum VI—Post-Destruction of the Great Revolt (late first–second centuries CE). The excavation continued of the facade of a large building (Fig. 12) first uncovered in 2017 (Szanton et al. 2018) continued. The building was erected over the western part of the street (Fig. 13). Crushed-limestone floors were also revealed on two levels, one above the other, abutting the building’s eastern facade (L12132, L12135). The facade was built mostly of medium-sized fieldstones and dressed stones, and the gaps between the stones were filled with gray mortar. The wall was built from four different segments, and the joins between them were clearly identifiable. Part of the wall was founded directly on top of the stones of the Stepped Street, with no intervening layer. When the wall was built, a circular opening was cut into one of the street’s paving stones in order to drain water from the building into the drainage channel beneath the street. Floor 12132 (length 15 m, width 2 m, thickness 0.1 m; see Fig. 14) was laid over a soil bedding. The soil bedding layer yielded pottery dating from the first half of the second century CE as well as a bronze oil lamp, which was possibly buried in the foundation of the building as a foundation offering (Baruch et al. 2021).
Stratum V—Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE). A deliberate fill of dark brown soil (L12126; thickness c. 1.5 m; see Fig. 14) discovered above Floor 12132 abutted the eastern facade of the building. The soil fill yielded pottery dating from no later than the Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE).
Area S16 (Fig. 15)
Stratum VIII—Early Roman period (first century CE). The eastern side of the Stepped Street (length 25 m) was uncovered as far as its ashlar curb stones. The southern part of the area contained remains of a rectangular room (L16044) whose entrance opened westward onto the street. Two more openings to the north of the room’s entrance probably also led to rooms that were not preserved. Room 16044 was only partially excavated, uncovering two of its walls, both built of ashlars: the northern wall (W16034—length 2.95 m, width 0.4 m, preserved height 1.2 m), and the western wall—the room’s facade (W16038—length 2.1 m, width 0.4 m, preserved height 1 m). A narrow entrance (L16041; width 0.35 m, preserved height 0.6 m) was set in the western facade. The room contained a floor made of tamped earth and crushed limestone (L16039), on which were finds from the end of the Second Temple period. The room was found sealed beneath a layer of rubble (below, Stratum VII). A built installation to the north of Room 16044 was probably rectangular in plan (L16022; 1.15 × 1.20 m, preserved height 1.3 m; Fig. 16). The installation’s walls (W16018, W16019, W16024) were built of small fieldstones and coated on the inside with gray hydraulic plaster.
Stratum VIIDestruction of the Great Revolt (70 CE). A thick layer of collapsed stones covered the entire excavation area (L16004, L16037; thickness 1.5–3.0 m; Fig. 17). The rubble layer yielded potsherds and stoneware dated upto the end of the Second Temple period.
Stratum II. An accumulation (thickness c. 1.6 m) of reddish soil and variously sized fieldstones sloped from east to west, intermixed with abundant finds dating from the Late Roman period to the present day.
Stratum I—Modern (late nineteenth century–second half of twentieth century CE). Evidence was found of two previous excavations conducted at the site: one by Bliss and Dickie in 1894–1897, and the other by Kenyon (Area  N) in 1961–1967. One of Bliss and Dickie’s excavation trenches was found in the west of the area, and part of the eastern side of the street excavated by Kenyon was revealed in the north of the area.
Area S6 (Fig. 18)
Stratum VIII—Early Roman period (first century CE). Instead of the stone paving found in all other areas, a crushed limestone surface was revealed in this part of the street (L6410; Fig. 19) at the same level as that of the stone paving. The reason for the alteration in the street’s paving in this section is not known. The limestone surface was laid on a bedding of dark brown soil and small fieldstones (L6409; length c. 17 m, width c. 3.5 m, thickness c. 0.5 m). Beneath this bedding, as in the stone-paved street segments, was a drainage channel (L6369) capped with large rectangular slabs—the main drainage channel from the Second Temple period. The soil fill beneath the crushed-limestone surface yielded pottery dated to the first century BCE–first century CE. Beneath the limestone surface in the eastern part of the area were three cooking installations made of clay, one on top of the other (L6421; each with diam. c. 0.5 m, average wall thickness c. 7 cm; Fig. 20). They were probably used by laborers working in this location.
In this segment, the street was flanked on both east and west by the facades of buildings built to line the street in the late Second Temple period (first century BCE–first century CE). Only the facades clearly abutting the street were excavated (W6401, W6454, W6457). Most of the facades were built of ashlars, some with the finely worked marginal dressing characteristic of this period.
Stratum VIIDestruction of the Great Revolt (70 CE). A layer of collapsed stones (L6436; thickness c. 2.4 m; Fig. 21) covered the entire area on all sides. The stones evidently came from buildings that flanked the street on both sides. Finds dating from the end of the Second Temple period were discovered between the collapsed stones.
Stratum V—Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE). Fragmentary remains of a built shaft were revealed (L6327) together with remains of walls (W6378, W6385, W6391). At this stage, it is impossible to know whether these remains were built at one and the same time, or were part of an architectural complex that developed over several years.
Shaft 6327 (c. 0.60 × 0.35 m, depth 2 m; Fig. 22) was lined with stones and abutted by two wall segments, one on the west (W6305) and the other on the east (W6307). The lower part of the shaft joined Drainage Channel 6369.
Wall 6391 was built on an east–west alignment and was especially wide (length at least 3.5 m, width c. 2 m, preserved height c. 2 m; Fig. 23); it continued beyond the excavation limits. The wall was built directly on top of the covering slabs of Drainage Channel 6369 from the late Second Temple period and was also above the level of the street from the same period.
Wall 6378 (length c. 2.2 m, width 1.7 m, preserved height c. 2 m; see Fig. 23) was built on an east–west alignment of two rows of carelessly laid medium-sized dressed stones, with a core of small stones and potsherds bonded in dark gray mortar; it was preserved to a height of six courses.
Wall 6385 (length c. 1.6 m, width 1.9 m, preserved height c. 2 m; see Fig. 23) was carefully built on an east–west alignment of medium-sized ashlars interspersed with light yellow mortar; it was preserved to a height of five courses.
During the 2019–2020 excavation seasons, six areas were excavated along the length of the Stepped Street that ascends from the Siloam Pool, in the south of the City of David spur, northward to the Temple Mount compound. Remains of eight strata were uncovered in these areas, representing the activities along the Tyropoeon Valley and beside the Stepped Street from the time of the Second Temple period to the present day. The excavations revealed that c. 300 m to the north of the Siloam Pool, the street’s stone paving was missing, and a crushed-limestone surface was found in its place.