In July 2017, a salvage excavation was conducted at 4 Ma‘alot Ha-Midrasha Street (‘Aqabat et-Taqiya), in the Old City of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-8030; map ref. 222044–51/631780–86; Fig. 1) prior to development. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was funded by Mohammed Nufal through the United Nations Development Programme, and was directed by D. Yeger, with the assistance of N. Nehama and S. Cohen (administration), A. Rose (photogrammetry), D. Porotsky (drafting), D. Tanami (metal detection), A. de Vincenz (pottery). I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing), I. Reznitzky (metallurgical laboratory), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), C. Amit (laboratory photography), Y. Kagan (supervision), I. Rozenbaum-Bracha (translation from French), and N. Sapir, district archaeologist for the Old City of Jerusalem.
The excavation took place in a private building located at the junction of Beit Ha-Bad St. and Ha-Gāy St. In the course of inspection in the building prior to the excavation, earthen fills were removed from the northeastern room on the ground floor, revealing a plastered installation. Consequently, a small excavation square (1.7 × 3.5 m; Fig. 2) was opened in the northern part of the room, to expose the installation. The excavation revealed that the installation was apparently associated with the storage of liquids, and was dated to the late Ottoman period (the eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE).
The street on which the excavation took place is on the eastern slope of the hill west of the Temple Mount, commanding a view of the Temple Mount compound. To the east of the building where the excavation took place is the Palace of Lady Tonshuk (Kasr Sith Tonshuk)—an opulent palace built in the Mamluk period. At the beginning of the Ottoman period, the palace was incorporated in the Sultan’s ‘Imara Complex (soup kitchen and charity institution), and in the nineteenth century, it served as the City Governor’s Palace (for further information about the palace, see Burgoyne 1987:485–504). Today, the building houses a Muslim orphanage.
The room in which the excavation took place is rectangular (2 × 6 m, maximum height 2.2 m; Fig. 3), and it is roofed with a barrel vault. The walls of the room (W5–W7) were built of fieldstones of various sizes. Below W6, the top of a vault was observed (Fig. 4), below the level of the alleyway outside the wall; the vault was not excavated. The installation, discovered in the center of the room, consisted of a pit dug into the soil (L2; 1.0 × 1.7 m, depth 1.1 m; Fig. 5), and lined with two layers of plaster. Crushed potsherds were mixed in both the plaster layers ; the lower plaster layer was gray-buff in color, while the upper layer was grayish white (Fig. 6). The plaster layers probably indicate that the installation was associated with liquids. It was bounded on the east and west by the walls of the room (W5 and W7), on the north by a layer of fieldstones attached with bonding material (L3), and on the south by a fill of brown-gray soil mixed with various-sized fieldstones (L4). After the installation went out of use, it was filled with fieldstones and brown-gray soil (L1; not shown on plan), and a white plaster floor, whose remains could be seen on the wall of the room before the excavation, was built over it; the room apparently then functioned as a dwelling or storeroom.
In the fill (L1) in the installation, pottery sherds from the late Ottoman period (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries) were found; these probably date the final use of the installation. Among the sherds were two bowls made of coarse ware (Fig. 7:1, 2), a bowl decorated with a painted geometric pattern (Handmade Geometric Pottery/HMGP; Fig. 7:3), a handmade basin (Fig. 7:5), a krater, or a ceramic pipe segment coated on the interior with a transparent glaze (Fig. 7:5), and the neck of a Gaza Ware jar or jug (Fig. 7:6). An Islamic coin was also discovered in the fill (IAA 152686). Pottery sherds from the late Ottoman period were also found in the earth fill south of the installation (L4). In the fieldstone layer north of the installation (L3) a poorly preserved brass token (IAA 152685) made in Nuremberg, was found; it is presumed to date to the end of the Ottoman period.
A special find was discovered in the fill south of the installation (L4): a copper medallion (Basket 106; diam. 2 cm; Fig. 8). On the front of the medallion, in the center, was the monogram JHS, standing for Jesus, with the monogram MA, standing for Mary, incorporated into the letter H, and surmounted by a cross; these monograms are surrounded by two connected olive branches, around which is a French inscription: “Garde d’honneur du Sacré Coeur” (the honor guard of the Sacred Heart). On the reverse side of the medallion, in the center, is a depiction of the heart of Jesus surmounted by a cross in flames, enclosed within a crown of thorns, that, surrounded by rays of light. The image is encircled by a band of Roman numerals from I to XII, around which is the inscription: “Gloire! Amour! Réparation! Au couer de Jésus.” (Glory! Love! Reparation! In the heart of Jesus). The medallion symbolizes the heart of Jesus and his love for humanity, and it reflects the custom of devoting at least one hour a day to the contemplation of the heart and the love of Jesus for humanity. Similar medallions with monograms are known after 1864; the year in which they were first manufactured is unclear.
Burgoyne M.J. 1987. Mamluk Jerusalem: An Architectural Study. London