During August–September 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Ben Hinnom Valley (Permit No. A-4891; map ref. 221566–667/630762–880), prior to widening of Gey Ben Hinnom (Ben Hinnom Valley) Street. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the East Jerusalem Development Company, was directed by Z. ‘Adawi, with the assistance of R. Abu Halaf (administration), T. Kornfeld and V. Essman (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography), B. Touri (field assistance), L. Barda and D. Levy (GPS measurements), V. Raisa (metallurgical laboratory) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Area A. A quarry (c. 6 × 25 m; Figs. 2, 3) was discovered. It was covered with two layers of soil fill, which were removed by means of mechanical equipment. The upper layer (L110; thickness 3.0–3.5 m) included gray soil mixed with small and medium fieldstones, which eroded downslope from Mount Zion. The bottom layer (L101; thickness 0.3–0.5 m), situated immediately above bedrock, consisted mainly of light brown soil mixed with white gravel from quarrying debris as well as a small amount of gray soil. Pottery sherds dating to the Early and Late Roman periods and three coins were discovered in this layer. One coin dates to the time of Alexander Jannaeus (104–80/79 BCE; IAA 111639), the second — to the sixth century CE (IAA 111640) and the third, minted in Cairo, dates to the reign of Al-Asraf Abu Al-Nasr Qa’it Bay (1468–1469 CE; IAA 111641). The bedrock descends to the east and southeast. Shallow chisel marks and stone channels (width 7–10 cm; Figs. 4, 5) for removing stone blocks are visible, suggesting that that large stones were being quarried. The remains of several partially quarried stones were found in situ. No datable finds were discovered in the soil fill in the quarry (L102, L103, L105).
Area B. A rectangular rock-cut cistern (c. 3 × 4 m, preserved depth 3 m; Figs. 6–8) was discovered; its walls were lined with stone and then plastered. The upper part of the cistern was excavated by means of a backhoe, whereas its lower part was excavated manually down to its floor. The cistern contained gray soil (L200, L201) mixed with stone pavers, fragments of modern roof tiles and building stones, some of which collapsed from the ceiling. A vertical feeder channel (width 0.5 m, depth 0.4 m) that terminated 0.6 m above the floor of the cistern was hewn in the western wall, near the cistern’s northwestern corner. The bottom parts of the walls were lined with fieldstones, whereas the top parts were built of dressed voussoirs that formed a vaulted ceiling. Three layers of plaster were applied to the stone walls. The bottom layer (thickness c. 2 cm) consisted of ash, coarse and fine gravel and small stones; the middle layer (thickness c. 2 cm) comprised chalk mixed with fine gravel and coarse grog; and the upper layer (thickness c. 1 cm) was of modern gray cement. A probe excavated down to the bottom of the cistern (L202; 0.5 × 0.5 m, depth to bedrock 0.3 m), unearthed small fieldstones that were placed on the bedrock (thickness c. 0.2 m) and served as a substrate for the bottom. three layers of plaster similar to the plaster layers applied to the cistern walls, but of different thicknesses (bottom layer — c. 5 cm; middle layer — c. 4 cm; upper layer — c. 1 cm), were placed above them.
The ceramic finds and the coins discovered in the quarry postdate it, having washed in through time from upslope. Remains from the same periods as those that were identified in the quarry were exposed in nearby Mount Zion excavations (Broshi 1971
; Vitto 1971
; Broshi 1975a
; Broshi 1975b
1978). The stones that were hewn in the quarry were used in the construction of local buildings. The cistern is dated to the twentieth century CE on the basis of its plaster.
Broshi M. 1971. Jerusalem, Mount Zion, The House of Caiaphas. HA
Broshi M. 1975a. Jerusalem, Mount Zion – Fortifications from the Second Temple Period. HA 53:17 (Hebrew).
Broshi M. 1975b. Jerusalem, Mount Zion – a Gate Tower from the Middle Ages. HA 53:18 (Hebrew).
HA 1978. An Aqueduct on Mount Zion. HA 67–68:46 (Hebrew).
Vitto F. 1971. Jerusalem, Mount Scopus. HA 40:20 (Hebrew).
Weiss D. 2003. Jerusalem, Berekhat Ha-Sultan. HA-ESI 115:75*.