In May 2019, a salvage excavation was undertaken at 10 Emile Botta Street in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-8508; map ref. 221342–84/631334–63; Fig. 1) prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Balila, with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), S. Mizrahi (trial trenches), S. Halevi (photogrammetry) and A. Rose (drafting), as well as A. Re’em and Y. Zelinger (scientific assistance).
The excavation revealed a building-stone quarry (L100; Fig. 2) and documented an adjacent rock-cut cistern (L102). The hewing of the cistern seems to have annulled a rock-cut columbarium. The quarry and the cistern were discovered in trial trenches excavated by a mechanical tool prior to the excavation. During illegal construction work carried out in the cistern before the excavation, most of the cistern’s opening was destroyed with scaffolding.
A previous survey identified near the excavation area burial caves from the Second Temple period, as well as building remains dated to the Byzantine and Crusader periods, including the remains of the Church of St. George (Kloner 2001: Sites 392, 393, 404).
The building-stone quarry was terraced (7 × 9 m; Fig. 3), and it featured detachment channels for building stones of various sizes (average size 0.45 × 1.50 m); it apparently extended beyond the boundaries of the excavation. Due to the meager datable finds in the quarry, its time of use could not be determined.
The cistern was ovoid (c. 7.5 × 12.5 m, depth 5 m), and a rounded, vertical shaft (L103; diam. c. 2.5 m, depth 2.5 m; Fig. 4) was discovered at the top. The cistern’s ceiling and its southern part had been damaged by a mechanical tool during modern construction work. Its walls were coated with Ottoman-period plaster mixed with crushed pottery, which was laid on a bedding of flat fieldstones and gray bonding material (Fig. 5); its floor was coated with modern, Ottoman-period cement. In the upper part of the northern and western walls of the cistern were two rows of rock-cut columbarium niches (L105; Fig. 6). Additional niches may have been covered by the layer of plaster when the columbarium was put out of use. The cistern could not be dated, but based on the plaster it seems that it was used last during the Ottoman period.
Kloner A. 2001. Survey of Jerusalem: The Northeastern Sector (Israel Archaeological Survey). Jerusalem.