During October 2003, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Old City of Jerusalem, on Ha-Remakhim Street, in the compound of the Austrian Hospice (Permit No. A-4018*; map ref. NIG 222103/631984; OIG 172103/131984), following the collapse of a retaining wall that surrounded the hostel’s courtyard (Fig. 1). The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Austrian Hospice, was directed by T. De‘adle, with the assistance of T. Kornfeld (surveying) and I. Lidski (pottery drawing).
In the wake of the retaining wall collapse, a corner of a room that was paved with a coarse mosaic was exposed (L101; 1 × 2 m; Fig. 2). The floor consisted of relatively large tesserae (2.5 × 2.5 × 3.0 cm) bonded with light gray cement and founded on a layer of stream pebbles bonded with dark gray cement (Fig. 3). The tesserae were arranged in two ways: diagonal rows in the center of the carpet, whereas the rows along the edges were straight and met at right angles in the corner of the room. The northern side of the floor abutted a wall (W100; 0.33 × 1.45 m), oriented east–west, which was survived by a single course of ashlar stones with a core of small fieldstones. Based on the placement of the tesserae, it seems that an eastern wall had once existed but was not preserved. The floor and the wall were founded on fill that sloped from the east westward (Loci 104, 107).
Two pottery assemblages were found below the floor, one atop the other. The upper assemblage was right below the floor (L104) and contained fragments of pottery vessels that dated to the first century CE, including thin bowls (Fig. 4:1, 2), cooking pots (Fig. 4:3–6), jars (Fig. 4:7–9), a jug (Fig. 4:10), a juglet (Fig. 4:11), a flask (Fig. 4:12) and a pared lamp (Fig. 4:13). The lower assemblage (L107), contained fragments of pottery vessels that included a red slipped, wheel-burnished bowl (Fig. 5:1), a burnished krater (Fig. 5:2) and jars (Fig. 5:3, 4) that dated to Iron II and a jar (Fig. 5:5) dating to the Hellenistic period.
A third assemblage in the fill above the floor (L101) was dated to the Byzantine–Umayyad transition period, between the sixth and eighth centuries CE and included Fine Byzantine Ware bowls (Fig. 6:1, 2), a cooking pot (Fig. 6:3), a bag-shaped jar (Fig. 6:4), jugs (Fig. 6: 5, 6), a FBW jug with a trefoil rim (Fig. 6:7) and a fragment of a zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 6:8). While cleaning the upper part of the section that had been disturbed by a modern sewer, other potsherds were found, including a jug (Fig. 6:9) and a lamp (Fig. 6:10) that dated to Byzantine-Umayyad transition period and a jar neck with a stamped impression (Fig. 6:11) that dated to the Mamluk period.
Due to the limited scope of the excavation, it was impossible to determine the nature of the architectural finds. The pottery vessels discovered below the mosaic floor and the wall indicate that their construction can be dated to the first century BCE–first century CE. The floor and the wall probably continued in use during the Byzantine–Umayyad transition period.