From January 2014 to December 2015, excavations were conducted in the southeastern part of the Giv‘ati Parking Lot at the City of David in Jerusalem (Permit Nos. A-6987, A-7290; map ref. 222363/631321). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and sponsored by the El‘ad Association, was directed by D. Ben-Ami, Y. Tchekhanovets and S. Dan-Goor, with the assistance of A. Zilberstein, A. Shatil, D. Gotreich, H. Ben-Dov, S. Tal, O. Bejarno, G. Roccabella, N. Rom, L.N. Sharabi and L. Oz (area supervision), V. Essman and Y. Shmidov (surveying and drafting), N. Nehama (administration), D. Tanami (metal detecting), A. Peretz (field photography), C. Amit (studio photography), the Sky View Company (aerial photography), N. Zak (plans), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), L. Kupershmit, I. Resnizky and V. Nosikovsky (metal conservation) and Y. Bukengolz (pottery restoration).
The Giv‘ati Parking Lot is located on the northwestern side of the City of David spur, along the eastern fringes of the Tyropoeon Valley, which delimits the spur from the west (Fig. 1). The excavations on the site in 2007–2013 revealed architectural remains in a stratigraphic and chronological sequence dating from the Iron Age to the Early Islamic period (Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets 2008
; Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets 2010
; Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets 2013
). During the 2014–2015 season, the excavation was expanded to the southwestern part of the Giv‘ati Parking Lot (Area M5). Following the removal of the asphalt, work began from the surface, and reached down to the level of the Hellenistic period remains, similarly to the previous excavations conducted at the site (Fig. 2). During this season, architectural remains from the Hellenistic, Early Roman, Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were discovered; later periods, up to the early twentieth century, were represented by sporadic finds. The area was traversed by the archaeological trench excavated by K. Kenyon’s expedition in the 1960s (Kenyon’s Area M; Kenyon 1964:13), cutting through the architectural remains of many of the strata, with wall stubs and floors abruptly cut on both sides of the trench. The current excavation in Area M5 enabled to accurately locate Kenyon’s Area M and to re-expose the extant architectural remains, now all measured and documented.
Hellenistic Period (second century BCE). The remains of massive fortification structures were uncovered in the southeastern part of the area, at the bottom of a deep cliff on the western slopes of the hill. These remains include a wide fortification wall (max. width 3.5 m), built of huge uncarved rocks and a core of medium to large-sized field stones. An elongated rectangular tower (exposed length over 20 m, width 4 m; Fig. 3), built of large ashlars, abuts the western face of the wall. The western face of the tower is abutted by a huge construction of massive fill layers, understood as components of the glacis system (Fig. 4). These fill layers, excavated in an area of more than 650 sq m, slant down sharply toward the Tyropoeon Valley. Some of the layers consist of pebbles and gravel, or fieldstones of different sizes; some include enormous quantities of pottery sherds; and others contain large amount of burnt organic material. Several of these layers are sealed by well-compressed chalk layers. Similar glacis layers were uncovered in Area G of Shiloh’s excavations on the eastern slope of City of David spur, above the Iron Age stepped stone structure (Shiloh 1984:16–17, 23–24, Pls. 26:1, 36:1, 2, Figs. 27–29). Numerous Hellenistic bronze arrowheads (Fig. 5) and lead slingshots were discovered at the foot of the tower, some of them marked with symbols of tridents and lightning bolts. A preliminary typological analysis of the sherds that make up the ‘sherd layers’ in the glacis, reveal a homogeneous assemblage dating from the second century BCE. The quantity of sherds is almost inconceivable, reflecting a typologically monotone, limited assemblage of vessel types. The latest coins from the top of the glacis date from the time of the Seleucid King Antiochus VII Sidetes (138–129 BCE). These coins, which were discovered only in the top layers of the glacis, offer a date for when the glacis went out of use. The coins discovered in the glacis foundations can indicate its construction date with certainty. In addition to coins from the Persian period and Ptolemaic coins, the latest coins found at the base of the glacis date from the time of the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 BCE). This means that the glacis was not built before the reign of Antiochus IV, and it fell out of use no later than the time of Antiochus VII. This conclusion is consolidated by the results of the examination of dozens of stamped amphora handles discovered in the glacis’ fills, dating from the Ptolemaic and Seleucid periods, up to 170 BCE. It is reasonable to assume that the fortifications discovered on the western side of the hill belong to the same fortification system as the remains discovered by Shiloh on the eastern slope and as the solid walls (‘gate structure’) discovered by Crowfoot and Fitzgerald on the western slope, just some 30 m south of Giv‘ati Parking Lot (Crowfoot and Fitzgerald 1929:17; and see Geva 2015:61–62). All these elements date from the Seleucid rule in Jerusalem, and they are possibly to be identified with the Seleucid Acra (Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets 2015; 2016).
Early Roman Period (first century CE). The Early Roman period remains include various water installations, plastered cisterns and miqva’ot. In the east, these installations were hewn in the high elevated rock, while in the west, where the rock steeply drops into the Tyropoeon Valley, they are simply dug into the earlier remains. Noteworthy among these plastered installations is a particularly large miqveh cut into the bedrock; it was converted into a water cistern in the Byzantine period. The remains of this large purification complex were exposed already in the previous excavation seasons, and were attributed to the large monumental building discovered to the west of Area M5 (Ben Ami 2013:22–31). Judging by the large dimensions of this purification complex, it may have served for public use. A large assemblage of Early Roman pottery and stone vessels was found smashed inside the cisterns and miqva’ot; the coins date the final destruction of the monumental structure to the year 70 CE.
Late Roman Period (late third–fourth centuries CE). At the close of the third century CE, a peristyle building was constructed in the southeastern hill of Jerusalem, extending from the hilltop down toward the Tyropoeon Valley (Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets 2013). This spacious structure, occupying an area of at least 2000 sq m, featured multiple rooms surrounding a large open area comprised of two adjacent courtyards, one of which is a peristyle. In the current excavation season, the southern wing of the Late Roman complex was unearthed, including its southern entrance and row of rooms, where numerous pottery vessels and small finds dated to the fourth century CE were found, including a carved bone plaque bearing a carved figure of maenad (Fig. 6). Apparently, the spacious peristyle building (Fig. 7: Building A) was not the sole architectural evidence in the Giv‘ati Lot for the southward expansion of the Roman city in the late third–early fourth centuries CE. The northern wing of what appears to be another contemporary spacious architectural complex was also exposed (Fig. 7: Building B). It extends further south beyond the limits of the excavation, and thus its plan is unknown. A wide street (c. 8 m) separates the two architectural complexes. This additional structure along with the wide street are perfectly aligned with the large peristyle building in the north; all were built according to a strict orthogonal grid.
Byzantine Period (fourth–late fifth centuries CE). In the current season, the continuation of the Byzantine agricultural field, previously known from the excavations to the north and northwest, was exposed (Ben Ami and Tchekhanovets 2013). The field was divided into elongated farming terraces that descended toward the west in accordance with the topography. The terraces were supported by long retaining walls, aligned north–south. Soil was piled up on the terraces (average height 1 m). This agricultural terrain was bounded in the south by two buildings, clearly forming part of a domestic quarter.The walls and floors of both buildings were coated with a thick layer of plaster. The floors were laid directly on the bedrock, quarried and flattened to accommodate the new floor level (Fig. 8). When the plaster floors were excavated and the bedrock was exposed, it became evident that the Byzantine builders had leveled a Late Roman quarry, as well as the remains of the Early Roman water installations (see above). The Early Roman large miqveh was roofed, as indicated by the walls built along its perimeter; when it was converted into a cistern in the Byzantine period its roof was integrated in the one of the buildings’ living surfaces. Both buildings continue eastward and southward, beyond the borders of the excavation area. Based on the numismatic and the pottery analysis, these structures can be dated from the fourth to the late fifth centuries CE.
Early Islamic Period (eighth–tenth centuries CE). No remains of the Umayyad period were discovered in Area M5. The earliest evidence for post-Byzantine activity is a series of early Abbasid refuse pits, similar to dozens of pits discovered during the previous excavation seasons. All the pits (diam. 1.0–1.5 m) were dug in the ground, sometimes one into another, and contained burntorganic materials, charcoal chunks, numerous fragments of various potteryvessels, animal and bird bones and eggshells. The refuse pits may indicate that a large marketplace, consisting of stalls made of perishable materials, operated here in an open area (Amichay et al. 2019). The next phases in the Abbasid period, dated to the late eighth to tenth centuries CE, are characterized by poorly built structures of different functions and numerous installations (Fig. 9). Among the Abbasid structures discovered in the current excavations is a bakery complex, facing one of the commercial lanes, with an entrance room, a baker’s work space and a round oven (diam. 2.5 m; Fig. 10). The oven floor was made of thick dark orange mud-brick material, resting on a thick layer of flint stones over its entire diameter, and intended to preserve heat inside the installation.
Later Periods. During the Ottoman period, a large bustan (agricultural garden) occupied the entire area. It retained its layout until the second quarter of the twentieth century. A small water cistern and meager remains of terrace walls represent this last stage in the sequence of the site’s archaeological strata.
The finds exposed in the current excavation seasons supplement the information derived from the previous years of research in the area, mainly contributing to the understanding of the Hellenistic fortifications of the city and the urban development in the Late Roman period.
Amichay O., Ben-Ami D., Tchekhanovets Y., Shahak-Gross R., Fuks D. and Weiss E. 2019. A Bazaar Assemblage: Reconstructing Consumption, Production and Trade from Mineralised Seeds in Abbasid Jerusalem. Antiquity 93/367:199–217.
Ben-Ami D. 2013. Jerusalem: Excavations in the Tyropoeon Valley (Giv‘ati Parking Lot) I (IAA Reports 52). Jerusalem.
Ben-Ami D. and Tchekhanovets Y. 2008. Jerusalem, Giv‘ati Parking Lot. HA-ESI 120.
Ben-Ami D. and Tchekhanovets Y. 2010. Jerusalem, Giv‘ati Parking Lot. HA-ESI 122.
Ben-Ami D. and Tchekhanovets Y. 2013. Jerusalem, Giv‘ati Parking Lot. HA-ESI 125.
Ben-Ami D. and Tchekhanovets Y. 2015. “And they also that were in the city of David in Jerusalem, who had made themselves a tower” (1 Macc., 14.36): The Seleucid Fortification System at the Giv‘ati Parking Lot, City of David. In G.D. Stiebel, O. Peleg-Barkat, D. Ben-Ami and Y. Gadot eds. New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region: Collected Papers IX. Jerusalem. Pp. 313–322 (Hebrew).
Ben-Ami D. and Tchekhanovets Y. 2016. “Then they built up the City of David with a high, strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel” (I Maccabees 1:33). In E. Meiron ed. City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem 11 (The 17th. Annual Conference). Jerusalem. Pp. 19*–29*.
Crowfoot J.W. and FitzGerald G.M. 1929. Excavations in the Tyropoeon Valley, Jerusalem, 1927 (PEFA V). London.
Geva H. 2015. Hasmonean Jerusalem in the Light of Archaeology — Notes on Urban Topography. Eretz-Israel 31:57–75 (Hebrew).
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