The Dar el-Consul complex is built on the eastern slope of the Old City of Jerusalem’s northwestern hill. The excavation area was located outside, and c. 300 m to the north of the First-Temple period Broad Wall and the Second-Temple period First Wall, whose remains have been discovered in the Jewish Quarter. The excavation area therefore lay outside the generally accepted city boundaries of the First- and Second-Temple periods, until the first century BCE (Geva and Avigad 1992:640–641; Shiloh 1992:619–620), and this area was first included within the walled city at the end of the Hasmonean period or early in Herod’s rule, when the Second Wall was built. The course of the Second Wall is usually reconstructed as having passed to the west of the excavation area, roughly along the line of Khan ez-Zeit/ Bet Ha-Bad Street, although its remains have not been found here (Geva and Avigad 1992:654–655). In the Late Roman city of Aelia Capitolina, the excavation area lay in the city center, near the main forum, and in the Byzantine period, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built immediately north of the forum. The church precinct is located 30–40 m southwest of the excavation area, on the other side of the Khan ez-Zeit/ Bet Ha-Bad Street—one of the Old City’s main streets today—whose north–south alignment preserves that of Roman- and Byzantine-period Western Cardo. Paving stones of the Western Cardo and the underlying main drainage channel were recorded in the past, along 400 m of this street (Johns 1948). Additional paving segments, which probably belong to the western and eastern porticoes of the Western Cardo, were recently discovered in three excavations conducted on both sides of Khan ez-Zeit Street, near the Dar el-Consul compound (A. Landes-Nagar and S. Mizrahi, pers. comm.;
Khan ez-Zeit/Bet Ha-Bad Street 107: Permit No. A-8715; Khan ez-Zeit/Bet Ha-Bad Street 109: Permit No. A-8830; Khan ez-Zeit/Bet Ha-Bad Street 146: Permit No. A-8635-01). The Madaba Map depicts public buildings to the east of the Western Cardo, roughly in the area of the current excavation, including a church with a red gabled roof that has been identified as the Church of Cosmas and Damian (Avi-Yonah 1953: No. 27; Milik 1960–1961: No. 24, Saint Cosme et Damien), a building with a yellow roof to the south of the church identified as a home for the elderly (Avi-Yonah 1993: No. 26), and a building to the north of the church identified as a public bathhouse (Avi-Yonah 1993: No. 28). The remains uncovered in the current excavation may well belong to one of these structures. To the south of the Dar el-Consul compound and ‘Aqaabat el-Taqiya/Ma‘alot Ha-Midrasha Street stands a large building, called Suq ez-Zeit by Mujir al-Din in the fifteenth century CE and Khan ez-Zeit by C. Schick, which is identified as a market building dating from the Mamluk period (Schick 1878; Da‘adli 2011:134–135). An excavation was recently conducted to the east of this building, in a building that was part of the Mamluk market (Kagan 2021). According to C. Schick, the market was originally built inside an ancient rock-hewn pool (length c. 25 m, depth 4.5 m), which may date from the Second Temple period. The northern side of the rock-hewn pool is located to the north of ‘Aqaabat el-Taqiya Street (Schick 1878:31), and part of it may well be located in the Dar el-Consul compound.
The Dar el-Consul compound (today c. 2.4 dunams) was purchased in 1856 for use as the Prussian consulate and consular residence, and it has been known by this name ever since. In 1882, the site passed into the hands of the Latin Patriarchate of the Holy Land. In 2014, development works began, accompanied by archaeological inspection and excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The buildings in the compound incorporate arches and vaults in the Mamluk–Ottoman architectural style, suggesting that they do not predate the Mamluk period. An excavation conducted at the beginning of 2017 in one of the building’s rooms (Permit No. A-7873) revealed sections of stone flooring, cisterns and water channels. An excavation conducted in the compound in 2018 uncovered a rock-hewn burial cave dating from the First Temple period, beside which were the remains of a room in which five construction phases, dating from the Early Islamic to the Mamluk periods, were identified (Gellman 2020)
. In 2018–2021, further excavations in the compound directed by A. Landes-Nagar uncovered architectural remains from the Byzantine–Mamluk periods (pers. comm.;
Permit Nos. A-8373, A-8414, A-8658, A-8924).
The current excavation was conducted on the lower floor of the building, where two areas were opened (A, D; Fig. 2); further remains uncovered in the course of work on the site prior to the excavation, were examined in three additional areas (B, C, E). The excavation revealed architectural remains dating from the Roman to the Ottoman periods. During the supervision of the construction work on the upper floor of the building (Area I), Mamluk and Ottoman potsherds were collected.
Area A (c. 10 × 10 m; Fig. 3)
The excavation area was situated beside the outer wall of the eastern row of shops on Khan ez-Zeit Street. The excavation reached bedrock in several places. The bedrock surface was fairly roughly smoothed, and stumps of rock-cut walls protruded above the surface. Building remains uncovered above the bedrock were attributed to several phases whose stratigraphy is not completely clear; they are described below in estimated order of construction, from earliest to latest. The earlier ancient remains continued in use in later periods, and repairs and additions were made to them until the Ottoman period.
Two adjoining rectangular rooms of similar size (L101, L105; both c. 3 × 5 m) and a reservoir to their east (L100) are attributed to the earliest phases (Strata IV and III). The southern room was surrounded by stone walls in the north (W15), east (W10) and south (W14), built on top of rock-hewn foundations; only the northern face of the foundations of W14 was uncovered, as the wall lay beneath cast concrete. The upper course of a wall (W16) found on the room’s western side was probably a later addition. Room 101 had a smoothed rock floor. A single course of flat stones in the middle of the room may be a floor (L101A; 1.1 × 1.1 m). The floor of Room 105 and the foundations of its southern and eastern walls (W15, W17) were evidently cut into the bedrock. The northern wall (W18) was partly excavated. A shallow narrow drainage channel (L112) cut in the floor of Room 105 began to the east of the room (L104; total length c. 6 m); it was covered with flat stone slabs, only some of which were preserved. The east–west sloping channel ran beneath W17 and curved slightly northwest inside Room 105. The bottom of the channel yielded a broken eighth-century CE mold-made oil lamp whose shoulder bore a stamped inscription in Greek of a familiar type, with a cross at the top. The lamp bore another partially preserved, Greek inscription of several lines on its base and sides. The inscription was examined by L. Di Segni, revealing that it contains an invocation for a blessing for an individual and his family (Di Segni, Storchan and Weksler-Bdolah, in preparation). A soil accumulation in the two rooms yielded mostly potsherds dating from the Early Islamic to the Ottoman periods. The rooms were probably quarried out before the Early Islamic period, and they may originally have been shops to the east of Jerusalem’s Western Cardo in the Roman–Byzantine periods.
Reservoir 100 (length over 3 m, width c. 2.8 m, depth over 4.5 m) was coated with gray plaster and roofed with a vault; it continued eastward beyond the excavation limits. The lower part of the reservoir was quarried into the rock, while the upper part was stone-built. The reservoir walls (W10, W11) were massive and broad, incorporating large stones. Only the northern face of the reservoir’s southern wall was revealed, on the edge of the excavation area. In the reservoir’s southwestern corner, the worn outline of a pillar surmounted with a capital was detected sunk in the wall core (Fig. 3: Section 1–1, above W10). The proximity to Khan ez-Zeit, where pillars have been recorded, suggests that the pillar may have come from the Khan building, although this cannot be confirmed due to the poorly preserved condition of the remains. An Ottoman pottery pipe, uncovered in the northwest of the excavation area, led to Reservoir 100; its remains show that the reservoir was also in use during the Ottoman period. A soil fill inside the reservoir yielded mixed ceramic finds, including Ottoman and modern pottery.
It was not possible to determine the association between the massive walls of the reservoir (W10, W11) and the two rooms (L105, L101), nor which of these was earlier, that is, what was built in stratum IV and what in stratum III. It is possible that the reservoir walls were built first, perhaps as part of a tower-like structure that was converted into a reservoir in a later phase, and the walls of the two rooms were built later, leaning against the walls of the reservoir. Alternatively, the reservoir may postdate the two rooms.
In Statum II, two square pilasters (W61, W62) were built on top of the bedrock to the north of Reservoir 100; only their foundations were preserved and their dimensions were not identical. An east–west wall (W19) abutted the base of W61. A north–south wall (W60) built adjacent to the pilaster bases is attributed to the latest construction phase (Stratum I). A round stone object (diam. 0.4 m) with a hole in the center was incorporated in secondary use in the western face of W60, to the north of W61.
Area B (5 × 5 m; Figs. 4–6)
The area was opened inside a space covered with a cross vault (W24). In the northwestern part of the area, a small section of a white mosaic floor (L200; preserved area 0.3 × 0.6 m) was discovered during work prior to the excavation. The area around the floor was thoroughly cleaned and excavated, revealing that Floor 200 was made of white tesserae (size of one c. 1 sq cm), set in a bedding (preserved area 0.75 × 2.40 m) of flattened field stones overlain with a thin layer of crushed chalk. The floor bedding yielded a few non-diagnostic potsherds and a roof tile, probably dating (based on their appearance) from the Byzantine and Umayyad periods. The floor abutted a wide wall (W20; excavated length c. 3 m, width 1 m) built on a north-south alignment whose foundation was incorporated in the bedrock. The wall was dismantled before the excavation began, and only a few stones of its lowest course remained. To the west of W20, two stone slabs (L202), that were probably part of a floor abutting the western side of the wall, were found. The carefully made floor (L200) and the substantial width of W20 suggest that they were part of a public building. This building lay c. 40 m east of the precincts of the Byzantine Church of the Holy Sepulcher, on the eastern side of the Western Cardo.
Two square pilasters built on top of W20 supported a pointed arch on a north–south axis (W21; width 1.5 m, diam. c. 2.2 m; Fig. 5). To the east of the pointed arch, a cross vault (W24) was built at a later phase. The excavation did not uncover any floors abutting the pointed arch or the cross vault, and their date is therefore suggested relying on their method of construction. The fact that the arch and the vault were built of small stones without masonws marks suggests that they were built after the Crusader period, i.e., during the Mamluk–Ottoman periods (V. Shotten-Hallel, pers. comm.), as part of a building with several floors.
Area C (3 × 5 m; Figs. 7, 8)
A room was uncovered in the center of the compound, in whose floor was a south–north water channel running toward a cistern in the room’s northwestern corner. A shallow installation (L300; c. 2 × 2 m) uncovered in the northeast of the room was dug into the ground and lined with stones and plastered. The installation’s plaster floor was partially dismantled, and the underlying fill yielded potsherds dated to the Ayyubid period. A square shaft (L350; c. 1 × 1 m, depth c. 2 m) in the room’s southeastern corner descended to a narrow elongated underground reservoir on a west–east alignment with rounded stone arches built across its width; it continued to north of Area D and was excavated at a later date by A. Landes-Nagar. A soil fill accumulated at the bottom of Shaft 350 yielded Ottoman pottery.
Area D (c. 3.5 × 7.0 m; Fig. 7)
The excavation took place in the northern part of a room, delimited on the east by a row of pilasters supporting arches; the gaps between the pilasters were blocked up with a built wall (W45; excavated length c. 8 m; Fig. 9). The excavation reached down to c. 4 m beneath surface level without reaching bedrock. The architectural remains that were uncovered belong to three main phases.
Late Byzantine–Umayyad periods (sixth–eighth centuries CE). A soil fill layer at the lowest part of the excavation, next to the foundation of W45, yielded many building stone fragments made of soft limestone, roof tiles and potsherds dating from the Late Byzantine and Umayyad periods. This fill was sealed by a thin floor surface composed of soil mixed with crushed chalk (L408/L410) that was partially preserved, in which white tesserae, not in situ, were set. Surface 408/410 apparently abutted W45, but this could not be confirmed due to its poor preservation. In this phase, a pilaster (width 0.9 m, height 1 m) was built on top of the foundation of W45; only its lower part was preserved.
Early Islamic period(?) (ninth–eleventh centuries CE?). In this phase, the pilaster in W45 served as a base for two rounded, slightly pointed arches to the north and south, along W45 (see Fig. 7: Section 1–1). Almost all of the northern arch was found (see Fig. 9); its northern side was founded on a partially excavated wall. The upper part of this arch was damaged by a later breach. The gaps between the arches were blocked up with stones at some later stage. Although it was not possible to determine with absolute certainty when the arches were built or when they were blocked up, they clearly postdated the Late Byzantine and Umayyad periods and predated a floor from the later phase (L404), which abutted the blockage in the northern arch.
Early Islamic/Crusader/Ayyubid periods (eleventh–thirteenth centuries CE?). Most of the remains uncovered in this area were attributed to this phase. The excavation uncovered two walls (W40, W43) that divided the room into two (L404, L405; Fig. 10). Each of these smaller rooms contained a floor and an industrial installation. The northern room (L404) contained a tamped earthen floor sloping slightly from north to south. On its western side, this floor abutted two installations built along the room’s western wall (W47): a circular installation (W42) built in the northwestern corner, and a long, narrow installation (L411) built along W47 and divided into four trough-like compartments (Fig. 7: a–d), which were plastered and slightly raised above the floor level. A plaster floor found in the southern chamber (L405) was flanked by walls in the north and west (W43, W44). A deep circular plastered installation (L407) dug in the plaster floor had vertical sides and a flat base. Two small knobs protruded from the sides of the installation, 0.7 m above its base. The soil fill inside L407 yielded a fragment of a basalt millstone, used to mill flour.
The floor and the installations uncovered in the northern chamber were sealed with collapsed ashlars (see Fig. 10). The stones had evidently all collapsed simultaneously, probably in some catastrophic event. The fallen stones leaned against the blocked arch in W45, and therefore the collapse postdates the blockage. A fragment of a marble statue of a dolphin was recovered from between the collapsed stones (Habas, in preparation).
Area E (c. 2 × 2 m)
The area was located inside a room with a cross-vaulted ceiling in the center of the compound. Prior to the excavation, a fieldstone floor (L500) was uncovered in the room. Part of the floor was dismantled in the excavation (Fig. 11), revealing Ottoman potsherds beneath it, confirming the date of the floor.
During archaeological supervision of construction work on the building’s upper floor, potsherds from soil accumulated above the roof vault of the building’s lower floor were collected beneath a plaster floor that was dismantled in the excavation. The fragments date from the Mamluk and Early Ottoman periods.
The Dar el-Consul compound (c. 750 m asl) is built on the slopes of Jerusalem’s northwestern hill, near main thoroughfares of the Old City, that were probably paved during the Late Roman period (the time of Aelia Capitolina). The compound is located 30–40 m away from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—the focal point of the city in the Byzantine period. The excavated remains include rock-hewn rooms (Area A), which may belong to a row of shops that flanked the Western Cardo during the Roman period. In the Late Byzantine–Early Islamic periods, a building was constructed in the area; it was partially excavated and included a white mosaic floor (Area B) and square pilasters (Area D). During the late Early Islamic period, or later, the earlier building was partly reconstructed and water channels and industrial installations were built within its remains (Areas C and D). In the next phase, which can be cautiously attributed to the Mamluk or Early Ottoman period, a building was built over the ancient remains and its rooms were roofed with cross vaults on top of which another floor was built.
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