In April 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted in a cistern in Jerusalem’s Schneller Compound (Permit No. A-6725; map ref. 220396–402/633315–20) that was damaged as a result of earthmoving work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Hasidei Gur Synagogue Association, was directed by D. Tanami (photography, surveying and drafting), with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), D. Ben-Ami (academic advisor), N. Zak (plans), B. Dolinka (ceramics) and I. Lidski-Reznikov (drawing of finds).
The excavation was conducted in the northern part of Schneller Compound, near Yirmiyahu Street, where a small bell-shaped cistern (diam. 1.6–1.9 m, diam. of opening 1.2 m; Figs. 1, 2) was exposed; mechanical equipment damaged its northern side. The cistern was hewn in hard limestone bedrock and was coated with whitish–gray hydraulic plaster. It contained a homogenous fill (thickness 1.2 m), consisting of reddish–brown soil mixed with medium- and large-sized stones, fragments of pottery vessels, a bead fragment and a bone ring. The pottery dates to the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods (twelfth–fifteenth centuries CE). It included bowls (Fig. 3:1), basins (Fig. 3:2), jars (Fig. 3:3–6), jugs (Fig. 3:7–10), some of which are decorated with incising, and jugs spouts (Fig. 3:11, 12).
Several burial caves ascribed to the Roman period were discovered in excavations previously conducted in the compound (Kloner 2003
:80*). According to historical sources, there were numerous ruins and cisterns in the compound prior to the establishment in the 1860s of a Christian orphanage (Gordon 2008
:75–76). One of the destroyed structures was renovated when construction of the orphanage began, but its remains disappeared in the wake of subsequent construction (a military base was located within the compound from the time of the British Mandate until 2008). The pottery vessels from the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods discovered in the excavation may indicate the period of construction of the ancient ruins and cisterns at the site.
Gordon G. 2008. From a Missionary Station to a Neighborhood: The Development of the Schneller ‘Syrian Orphanage’ Compound in Jerusalem in the Late Ottoman Era. Cathedra
Kloner A. 2001. Survey of Jerusalem: The Northeastern Sector (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem.