The building of W2 in sections apparently points to construction phases. The first phase saw the construction of the hewn chamber; the cistern came in the second phase, as it cut the chamber and during the third phase, the chamber was bordered with the construction of the southeastern section of the wall, W2c. When Cistern 102 and the other cisterns were hewn/built, the chamber served the masons, as evidenced by the white plaster and soot on its floor that were also the main components of the plaster layers applied to its walls. White plaster was traced in the vessels from the late Ottoman period and it probably shows that the cisterns should be assigned to this period.
The chamber contained debris characteristic of a refuse pit, which included small and medium-sized fieldstones, masonry stones, roof tiles, iron, glass bottles and a large quantity of animal bones. The pottery finds dated to the Late Ottoman period (nineteenth century CE) and included a bowl (Fig. 13:1), small and large kraters (Fig. 13:2–7), cooking pots (Fig. 13:8–11), including a Gaza pot (Fig. 13:10), a jug and a spout of a Gaza-type jug (Fig. 13:12, 13), a lid (Fig. 13:14), a hookah top (Fig. 13:15) and jars (Fig. 14:1–5). Most of the pottery was found on the chamber’s floor and some was along the northeastern side, covered with white lime and a layer of charcoal.
Cave and Structure
The rock-hewn cave (L106; 1.20 × 2.85 m; Figs. 15, 16) was accessed by a descending staircase and walls were built in its northeastern and southeastern sides. Wall 4 (width 2.85 m), preserved thirteen courses high (2.3 m; Fig. 17), was built of roughly hewn masonry stones and small and medium-sized fieldstones; its northwestern end was adjacent to Cistern 102. Two plaster layers were applied to the wall. The bottom layer consisted of soft gray plaster with lumps of white lime and charcoal and the upper layer, which was soft and had an orange hue, contained earth with lumps of white lime, small stones and ground potsherds/roof tiles. Wall 5 (width 1.2 m, preserved height 2.25 m) abutted W4 and was built of roughly hewn masonry stones and small and medium fieldstones. A half vault, built of flat medium-sized stones was exposed in its center. Of the five steps in the staircase, the top three were built of flat stones and the third one was completely preserved (length 0.65 m, width 0.3 m, height 0.35 m), the fourth step was hewn (length 0.7 m, width 0/35 m, height 0.8 m) and the fifth was built of two flat stones (length 0.6 m, width 0.25 m, height 0.15 m). It seems that the staircase continued to the southeast but was severed by W5. The cave contained modern debris without any datable finds. Three phases of use were discerned in the cave. The southwestern side and the fourth step probably belonged to an early cave from the Second Temple period, as evidenced by the finds discovered in the adjacent unit (L109; see below). In the second phase, W4 was built and the staircase was completed by adapting the steps to the rock-cutting. It is unclear what the structure was used for at this time. In the last phase, which is also dated to the Late Ottoman period, the construction of W5 blocked the entrance to the cave.
Hewn Bedrock Floor (Storehouse)
A bedrock floor that sloped to the northwest, was delimited on its western side by hewn walls (L109; 2.25 × 2.50 m; preserved height 0.8 m) and on its eastern side by the excavation boundary (Loci 107A-B) next to Cave 106 and Chamber 108. A layer of marl was exposed on the northeastern part of the floor, as well as limestone collapse that was perhaps the fallen ceiling of the cave (Fig. 18) and a hearth near the eastern corner (0.6 × 1.1 m), which contained two burnt, medium-sized fieldstones. The pottery finds dated to the Hasmonean and Early Roman periods. Among those from the Hasmonean period was the upper part of a Rhodian amphora (Fig. 19:1) that had on each of its handles a rectangular seal stamp (Eponym Nikasagovra~2nd dated to c. 131 BCE). The Early Roman period pottery included fragments of cooking pots (Fig. 19:3). The floor of the storehouse and the potsherds above it continued beyond the limits of the excavation and it seemed that this storehouse was connected to the nearby cave (L106). The ceiling of the storehouse was almost certainly high as evidenced by the height of the southeastern (2.55 m) and northeastern (2.66 m) balks, in which abundant pottery vessels that included the handle of a Rhodian amphora bearing a seal stamp (Fig. 19:2; Eponym Nikasagovra~2nd or Teimagovra~1st dated c. 131 BCE and 120 BCE respectively), were found.
Two phases were discerned at the site. The first phase included the hewn chamber and the cave with the bedrock floor, whose ceramic finds were dated no later than the Early Roman period. The second phase consisted of the water cisterns and the secondary use of the cave and is dated to the Late Ottoman period (end of the nineteenth century CE), when the Sha‘are Moshe neighborhood was established (in 1885). The multitude of water cisterns in a relatively small area apparently stems from the planning of the neighborhood: “…because the houses will be built around the field like a box on all four of its sides… and an empty space will remain in the center…where the cisterns will be” (S. Zacharia 2003. Yerushalayim Shel Mata. Pp. 44–46).