In November 2020, the remains of a rock-cut installation were documented behind the Sha‘ar Darom Synagogue on Eli Tavin Street in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood (Permit No. A-8860; map ref. 222968/635983; Fig. 1). The installation was discovered in 2015 during an antiquities inspection by A. Weigmann’s of rock-drilling work. The documentation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was undertaken by N. Rom, with the assistance of S. Halevi (photography) and O. Chalaf. For safety reasons, the installation was not excavated.
The installation was located on a moderate, rocky northeasterly slope (Figs. 2, 3). On the slope, terrace walls and evidence of rock quarrying are visible; a winepress, a lime kiln and cisterns were previously recorded, as well as Roman and Byzantine pottery (Kloner 2001: Sites 86, 122, 130); and caves with Middle Bronze Age pottery were identified c. 30 m west of the installation during a recent antiquities inspection (A. Wiegmann, pers. comm.). Approximately 350 m to the north of the installation lies the antiquities site of Ras Abu Maʻaruf, which contains remains from the Second Temple period and the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (Seligman 1999).
The installation, which was damaged as a result of the rock drilling, was recorded near the top of a hewn cliff, making it impossible to excavate. The remains of the installation, identified as a section in the face of the cliff (Figs. 4, 5), included a flight of rock-hewn steps descending westward into a rock-cut basin (length c. 1.5 m). The steps and the basin were coated with gray plaster. The lower part of the installation was filled with stones, some of them large and dressed, and its upper part was covered with alluvial soil. Halfway from the floor of the installation was a large, dressed stone (Fig. 6), probably in situ, beside a breach or an opening in the installation; its function is unclear. During the 2015 inspection, the bottom of the installation yielded large fragments of Roman-period pottery, which may date the installation or its final stage of use. The remains of the installation may belong to a cistern or a miqveh (ritual bath).
Kloner A. 2001. Survey of Jerusalem: The Northeastern Sector (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem (Hebrew).
Seligman J. 1999. Agricultural Complexes at Ras Abu Maʻaruf (Pisgat Zeʼev East A), North of Jerusalem. ‘Atiqot 38:137–170.