During June 2007, a trial excavation was conducted at 5 Misgav Lidakh Street in the Jewish Quarter (Permit No. A-5145; map ref. NIG 22203/63153; OIG 17203/13153; Fig. 1), in the wake of lowering floor levels in a private house. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Mrs. A. Kremintski, was directed by R. Avner, with the assistance of Y. Ohayon (administration), V. Pirsky and D. Porotsky (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), M. Avissar (ceramics), I. Lidski-Reznikov (pottery drawing), Y. Gorin-Rosen and N. Katsnelson (glass) and C. Hersch (glass drawing).
The excavation was conducted inside two of the building’s rooms, north of the inner courtyard (Area N; Fig. 2) and east of it (Area E). Walls and pillars, partly incorporated in the current building, as well as fragments of pottery and glass vessels from the Mamluk (thirteenth century CE) and Ottoman (fifteenth–sixteenth centuries CE) periods, were exposed.
Three main construction phases were identified in the area (c. 21 sq m).
First Phase. Rectangular engaged pillars located at the end of wall (W11) were ascribed to this phase. The pillars were built of large meticulously dressed ashlar stones and gray mortar. The foundation courses of the pillars were not exposed. A section of a brown, tamped earthen level (L15; 0.15 × 0.20 m) was uncovered alongside the eastern pillar. It was probably the remains of a floor or floor bedding that overlaid fragments of pottery and glass vessels from the Mamluk period.
Second Phase. Wall 11 and a red plaster floor (L10) were ascribed to this phase. A section of the floor (1.0 × 3.5 m) was preserved next of the western end of W11. A red strip that ran along W11 indicated that Floor 10 abutted it. The foundation of W11 was not exposed; hence, Floor 10 was probably not the original floor contemporary with the construction of the wall and an earlier floor must be below it. Floor 10 was placed on top of a vault, which covered a cistern that was coated with gray hydraulic plaster (L18). The vault was built of medium-sized fieldstone slabs and hard gray mortar. It collapsed when its dismantling had begun and the excavation was suspended. A wall (W12) that was incorporated in the eastern pillar from the first phase should probably be also ascribed to this phase.
The third and final phase is of the modern era. A concrete floor (1 × 2 m) in the western part of the room and a layer of white plaster, as well as reinforced concrete that was meant to strengthen the walls of the structure, were attributed to this phase.
Three main building phases were discerned in the area (c. 14 sq m).
First Phase. A wall and two pillars were ascribed to this phase. The wall (W26; length 6.4 m, width 0.75 m), built of large ashlar stones and gray mortar, was oriented north–south. The base of one of the pillars was incorporated in W26, whereas the other pillar was engaged in the room’s southern wall (W23), 2.2 m south of the first pillar. It seems that the two pillars flanked an opening in W26. A flagstone to the west of the presumed opening location was the only remnant of a stone floor that abutted W26.
Second Phase. The blockage (W26A) in W26 should be attributed to this phase, as well as an east–west oriented wall (W27; length 3.5 m, width 0.7 m) whose foundation courses were not exposed. A plaster floor (L24) abutted W27 from the south and at a level that was higher than the base of the pillar in W26 in the west. It therefore seems that W27 and the blockage of the passageway in W26 belong to the same phase.
Third Phase. The remains from this phase were modern. The walls of a room (W21–W24), a channel that had cut Floor 24 from the west and an iron sewage pipe embedded in it, as well as gray reinforced concrete mixed with gravel that reinforced the walls of the room, were all ascribed to this phase.
The limited scale of the excavation precluded the evaluation of the building’s plan from the Mamluk period. That notwithstanding, the dimensions of the opening in W26 indicate that this was a public building, which was probably also associated with the contemporary remains exposed at the corner of Misgav Ladakh and Ha-Shalshelet Streets (Permit No. A-5109). The building also continued to be used in the Ottoman period, undergoing changes that included the construction of an underground water reservoir, installing a new floor (L10) and building walls (W11). The structure was reinforced at the end of the twentieth century CE and continued to be in use in the modern era.
The fill in the two rooms contained potsherds, mostly dating to the Mamluk period, primarily to the thirteenth century CE. These included a handmade bowl, slipped red and painted white (Fig. 3:1), a red-slipped bowl, painted white on its sides and its pedestal is decorated with diagonal lines and rhomboids (Fig. 3:2), a base of a bowl decorated with a star pattern on both sides (Fig. 3:3), a bowl slipped with a brown glaze and decorated with a yellow stripe on and below the rim (Fig. 3:4), a bowl decorated in a similar manner and adorned with wavy or curved lines, without stripes (Fig. 3:5), a green-glazed and slipped bowl whose base is decorated on the inside with light green stripes (Fig. 3:6, 7) and a yellow-glazed and slipped bowl adorned with a brown stripe on its rim (Fig. 4:8). The latter is characteristic of Jerusalem and its sides are decorated with an incised geometric pattern, painted brown that is probably meant to imitate letters.
Two bowl fragments that may belong to the same vessel are made of white clay (frit or soft paste). They are decorated with a blue painted geometric pattern and black outlines and are slipped with a transparent green glaze, paint runs of which are evident near the base (Fig. 3:9, 10). These bowls are dated to the fifteenth or sixteenth century CE, based on the free style of the decoration that is visible on the base and along the interior. A handmade krater, slipped red and decorated with a reticulated pattern and rhomboids (Fig. 4:1), belongs to a type that continues to appear in the fourteenth century CE. The two jugs (Fig. 4:2, 3) and the pomegranate-like vessel that is mold-made and decorated with a pinecone motif (Fig. 4:4) are characteristic of the thirteenth century CE. The sandal-like lamp (Fig. 4:5) and the pipe (Fig. 4:6) have a broad chronological range that also includes the thirteenth century CE.
The excavation yielded five glass fragments from unsealed construction fills.
The fragments are parts of small bowls, beakers and oil lamps, dating to the Mamluk period. These include a rounded rim of a colorless bowl/beaker with slanted walls (Fig. 5:1) and fragments of two bowls of purple glass, decorated with an opaque white trail marvered into the surface (Fig. 5:2, 3). The small rounded bowl (Fig. 5:2) has an applied trail around its incurved rim, continuing in a rich festoon pattern on the body. The bowl in Fig. 5:3 is decorated with a marvered spirally-wound trail that is blown into an open mold, creating vertical ribs that rise from the bottom.
Two cylindrical beakers or oil lamps are made of colorless glass covered with a crust of weathering. The beaker in Fig. 5:4, with its overhanging rounded rim, could have also served as an oil lamp, as did the beaker in Fig. 5:5, which has two external horizontal folds on the body, probably for suspension.
Comparisons come from other excavations in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. N. Brosh (2005. Islamic Glass Finds of the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Century from Jerusalem—Preliminary Report. Annales du 16e congrès de l’association internationale pour l’histoire du verre, London 2003. Nottingham. Pp. 186–190) suggested that similar colorless and marvered glass vessels were manufactured in Jerusalem from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries CE.
The vessels from Misgav Ladakh Street, although not from stratigraphical contexts, are additional examples of local glass products from Mamluk Jerusalem.