During September 1999 a salvage excavation was conducted at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-3102*; map ref. NIG 21650/62795; OIG 16650/12795), prior to the construction of playground installations. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by G. Solimany and V. Barzel, with the assistance of A. Ganon (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), N. Zak (drafting), N. Ze’evi (pottery drawing), R. Bankirer (flint implements), M. Smilansky (flint drawing) and M. Sadeh (archaeozoology).
Two excavation areas (H, T) were opened in the eastern part of Area 800 of the previous excavations at the site (ESI 9:150–156). Building remains dating to Early Bronze IV (Intermediate Bronze Age; Stratum III) and Middle Bronze IIB (Stratum II) were exposed, as well as a terrace wall from the Byzantine period (Stratum I).
Area T (Fig. 1)
The area (5 × 8 m) had not been excavated previously due to an olive tree that was planted there. The tree has since been relocated and the area was excavated. Three strata (I–III), corresponding to the strata from the previous excavation, were exposed. A terrace wall (W100; preserved length 6 m, width 1.2 m), built of medium-sized fieldstones and oriented north–south, is ascribed to Stratum I. The northern side of the wall was preserved 1.4 m high, whereas its southern side was only preserved a single course high. A layer of red terra rosa soil (thickness 0.3 m) that contained a few potsherds from the Byzantine period abutted the wall from the west and extended across the entire excavation area.
Stratum II was exposed beneath the layer of terra rosa soil. A corner of two walls (W104––preserved length 1.5 m, width 0.6 m; W109––preserved length 4.5 m, width 0.5 m), built of large worked stones, was exposed. A layer of tamped soil, yielding Middle Bronze IIB potsherds, abutted the inside of the corner. Six stone slabs (average size 0.05 × 0.15 × 0.20 m) were lying in a row above the layer of tamped soil. These may be the remains of a stone pavement whose bedding was the tamped soil. A large grinding stone was discovered in a stone collapse at the level of the stone slabs, near the corner of the walls. It seems that the stone slabs and the grinding stone were part of an open courtyard floor.
Stratum III was exposed beneath the corner of the walls from Stratum II and south of it. The remains of two rooms that flanked a corridor and dated to Early Bronze IV were uncovered. Two construction phases were discerned in the southern room. Two walls (W106, W108) that were abutted by a floor (L3014) of different-sized stone slabs were attributed to the early phase. The doorway to the room was probably set in its northwestern corner. A large pottery vessel (diam. 0.5 m, depth 0.45 m), probably used for storage, was found inside a pit dug in the ground next to W108. Two walls (W103, W107), abutted by a floor of different-sized stones (L3010), were ascribed to the late phase of the southern room. The doorway in the northwestern corner of the room was made narrower in this phase by the addition of two stones. Two walls (W105 and W109, which continued from the early phase) were exposed in the northern room; they were abutted by a terra rosa floor (L3113) that was leveled on bedrock. A fieldstone-built semicircular installation (L3116) was discovered next to W105. It contained fragments of four-spouted lamps, flint implements and animal bones. A large grinding stone incorporated in the floor was discovered near the western side of the installation. The remains of the northern room were parallel to those of the lower phase of the southern room.
Area H (Fig. 2)
Two strata (II, III) were exposed in the area, located in the northwestern part of Area 800.
The excavation of building remains in Stratum III that had previously been excavated was completed. Two construction phases, dating to Early Bronze IV, were discerned. Five walls (W202, W203, W204, W205, W206) were ascribed to the early phase; Wall 204 was a partition wall. The doorway to the building (width 0.6 m) was located between W205 and W206. The tamped-earth floor in the early phase (L4018) was overlaid with a burnt layer that contained a large quantity of potsherds, flint implements and animal bones. An installation (0.6 × 0.6 m) built of small pebbles was exposed in the corner formed by W202 and W204. The later phase of the building had a floor of small pebbles and tamped soil (L4005). Wall 204 and the installation were canceled in this phase. A stone socket was preserved in the building’s entrance of this phase.
Two construction phases, dating to Middle Bronze IIB, were discerned in Stratum II. An open courtyard, which had a tabun (L4020) and a circular installation that was dug into the soil (L4017; diam. 0.8 m, depth 0.52 m), was ascribed to the early phase. Potsherds, a worked black stone, a stone weight and animal bones were found in the installation. A wall (W207) was built in the later phase and the installations were canceled. Installation 4017 was blocked with stones and large fragments of pottery vessels and a floor overlaid the tabun. The floor (L4006; 4.5 × 4.5 m) consisted of stone slabs (average size 0.3 × 0.4 m) and abutted W206, which continued from Stratum III and W207. It seems to have continued farther north, but was not preserved. Two column bases that were incorporated in the floor probably supported the ceiling of a room or a roofed courtyard.
The ceramic finds from Stratum III in the two areas dated to Early Bronze IV and those from Stratum II were from Middle Bronze IIB. The Stratum III ceramics in Area T included goblets (Fig. 3:1, 2), a cooking pot with a straight wall (Fig. 3:3), jars with an everted rim (Fig. 3:4–8, 16), a jar with a straight rim (Fig. 3:15), holemouth jars (Fig. 3: 9–11), a four-spout lamp (Fig. 3:12) and spouts (Fig. 3:13, 17), one of which was an especially large one that belonged to the early phase of the stratum. The characteristic designs on the pottery vessels from the period included straight and wavy combed decoration, rope ornamentation and herringbone patterns (Fig. 3:14). The ceramic finds from Stratum II in Area T included open bowls (Fig. 4:1, 2), cooking pots with straight walls (Fig. 4:3, 4) and jars with a thickened and stepped rim (Fig. 4:5–8). The ceramic finds from Stratum III in Area H included a large bowl with a sloping wall (Fig. 5:1), a small bowl with an inverted rim, adorned with a punctured decoration (Fig. 5:2), goblets decorated with straight and wavy combing (Fig. 5:3–7), jars with everted rims (Fig. 5:8–10), a jar with a ridged holemouth rim (Fig. 5:11) and holemouth jars (Fig. 5:12, 13). The Stratum II pottery in Area H included open round bowls (Fig. 6:1, 2), a cooking pot with a straight wall (Fig. 6:3), a cooking pot with an everted rim and curved wall (Fig. 6:4), jars (Fig. 6:5, 6), a ceramic stopper (Fig. 6:7) and an open bowl with a curved wall and ridged rim (Fig. 6:8). The flint tools collected from the two excavation areas included mostly flakes and a few implements that are not characteristic of a defined period, among them notched tools, denticulates, scrapers and awls. Noteworthy is a Canaanean sickle blade with an irregular retouch, which is common to Early Bronze IV (Fig. 7:1) and two sickle blades that bear the remains of a polished cutting edge that is common to Middle Bronze IIB (Fig. 7:2, 3).
The analysis of the zoological remains had shown that the bones from Stratum III belonged to 1 sheep/goat, 1 bovine and 1 domestic pig, whereas the bones from Stratum II belonged to 2 sheep/goats and 1 bovine.