Stratum II (Fig. 2). Wall tops (W9, W11–W13), a cistern (L109) and remains of a white plaster floor (L135) were discovered. The floor was severely damaged and its borders were unclear. Many pottery fragments were found on the floor and below it. These included kraters, cooking pots, jars and lamps dating to the Early Islamic period (seventh–tenth centuries CE). A large amount of beach sand discovered on the floor contained numerous edible Donax shells and fish bones, including parrotfish (Scaridae) that come from the Red Sea. A plastered and covered channel (L139; width 0.2 m; Fig. 3) built of masonry stones in secondary use was connected to the cistern from the east; neither was excavated.
Stratum I. A level of white marl, of varying thickness, was revealed above the remains of Stratum II. Above this layer were exposed the remains of a building in which three main construction phases were discerned. The marl might have originated as sediment that had accumulated inside the cistern and was scattered when the cistern was cleaned prior to the construction of the building. Overlying the layer of marl was a light-colored tamped-earth floor (L132; Fig. 4) that abutted the cistern. This floor might have served as an open area around the cistern. The sherds discovered below this floor indicate that it did not predate the tenth century CE. The floor was evidently used for a brief time prior to the construction of the building. The building was apparently erected around the cistern (minimum depth of the shaft 1.6 m).
Three spaces (A–C; Figs. 5, 6) separated by two walls (W2, W7) were ascribed to the early phase of the building. It seems that these spaces were parts of different dwelling units. The top of Cistern 109, which was filled with soil and was left unexcavated, was discovered in Space A. it was surrounded by a plaster floor (L127). Another plaster floor (L125) abutted W2 and W7 in Space B. In Space C, which was not as well preserved, a section of a plastered bench (W3) built adjacent to W2, and a section of pavement (L105) built of stone slabs and a fill consisting of small stones were revealed. It seems that this space extended over a larger area, possibly serving as a courtyard. No other building phases were discovered in Space C.
In the middle phase (Fig. 7), the floors in Spaces A and B were raised (L104, L118) and W2 and W7 continued in use. Plaster Floor 104 abutted the opening of the cistern; it was very thick and was evidently renewed numerous times. An open tabun (L112) built of stone and plaster was discovered on this floor next to W7. Plaster Floor 118, which was exposed in Space B, was raised at some point (L116).
Only few remains were preserved from the last phase of the building (Fig. 8). In the northwestern part of the building, a wall (W1) was constructed above W7 of the earlier phases. A plaster floor (L103) abutted W1 from the north. It is unclear if Floor 103 abutted the cistern opening or if the cistern was put out of use during this phase and covered by the floor. A leveled surface of medium-sized stones was exposed south of W1 at an elevation similar to that of Floor 103. It looks like a surface level and may have been in an open area.
Fragments of glazed and hand-painted pottery, including kraters, cooking pots and jars dating to the twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE, were discovered above and below the floors of Stratum I. A coin minted in Damascus and dating to the time of Saladin (1174–1193 CE; IAA 138513) was discovered in the plaster of Floor 118, ascribed to the building’s middle phase.
Benjamin J. Dolinka
The excavation yielded a corpus of ceramics dating from the mid-eighth to the mid-thirteenth centuries CE, covering the Abbasid through the Early Mamluk periods (all following dates are CE). The pottery can be divided into three distinct units: those from Stratum I, which comprised three stratigraphic phases, spanning the mid-twelfth through the thirteenth centuries; those from beneath the lowest floors and walls of Stratum I, composed mostly of pottery from the ninth and tenth centuries; and those from Stratum II, which dates to the Early Abbasid period, and covers the period from the earthquake of 749 until the mid-ninth century.
The Pottery from Stratum I. This assemblage (Fig. 9) consisted of vessels that have parallels in the Western Wall Plaza excavations. The slightly later material from the latest phase of Stratum I was mixed, while the earlier material from the floors of the two lower phases came from clean, sealed contexts and seem to represent two contemporary sub-phases. The assemblage included bowls with a yellow or green gritty glaze (Fig. 9:1, 2) and locally-produced slip-painted ware bowls with a yellow glaze (Fig. 9:3, 4). Two imported fine wares were also present in this assemblage. The first (Fig. 9:5) is a Byzantine fine sgraffito bowl sherd with a foliage design incised into the thick white slip and then covered with a light yellow glaze. These vessels were produced in Cyprus during the mid- to late-twelfth century. The second well-dated import is a sherd from an underglaze painted ware bowl (Fig. 9:6) that had a limited production in Raqqa, Syria, from the beginning of the thirteenth century until the site was destroyed by the Mongols in 1259. The last bowl from Stratum I is a small plain bowl (Fig. 9:7) in local fabric, produced from the twelfth to mid-thirteenth centuries.
A small number of cooking pots were present in Stratum I, including the handmade geometric painted (HMGP) variety with an inclined, rounded rim and dark red-painted decoration on the neck’s interior and exterior (Fig. 9:8), as well as those with the so-called ‘elephant-ear‘ handles (Fig. 9:9). In addition, HMGP jugs with slightly flaring rounded rims and reddish brown paint on both the interior and exterior of the neck (Fig. 9:10, 11) were also found; these jugs date from the mid-thirteenth to mid-fourteenth centuries. Another jug of the bulbous or swollen-neck type (Fig. 9:12) was found in the context of the latest phase, possibly representing an early thirteenth-century prototype of the more commonplace variety, which dates from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Two interesting mold-made lamps were recovered from Stratum I, although they are earlier than the rest of the pottery in this assemblage. The first is an ovoid-pointed Abbasid-period lamp made of red ware that bears a Kufic inscription in high relief (Fig. 9:13). The earliest contexts in which this type is found postdate the 749 earthquake; it continued to be produced until the tenth century. The second (Fig. 9:14) is a Fatimid-period lamp made of buff ware that bears an inscription in the later Naskh script.
Pottery from below Stratum I. The majority of the ceramic vessels recovered from below the earliest Stratum I floor (L132) date to the Abbasid Period, spanning the mid-eighth through the tenth centuries (Fig. 10). The corpus consisted mostly of bowls, jars and jugs, made of either buff fabric or a pale red fabric fired to buff on both the interior and exterior; these are typical of Jerusalem assemblages dating to this period, such as those from the Western Wall Plaza and Giv‘ati Parking Lot. Standard amongst these buff wares are the incurved bowl with a simple, rounded rim (Fig. 10:2), the bowl with an offset grooved rim (Fig. 10:3), the high-necked jar (Fig. 10:5), the jar with a short neck and a rounded, internally thickened rim (Fig. 10:6), and the well-levigated long-handled jug with a slightly out-turned rim (Fig. 10:8). Included within this corpus were the Early Islamic fine-ware bowls (Fig. 10:4) made of very fine, pale red fabric and ornamented with a wavy-band combing on the exterior below the rim zone. In addition to the buff wares, there were some red wares as well, including a handle-less cooking-ware jug with a trefoil pinched rim (Fig. 10:7) and a juglet with a single handle and a grooved offset rim (Fig. 10:9). An interesting mold-made lamp of buff fabric (Fig. 10:10) is characterized by a Greek inscription encircling the discus. By the Early Islamic era, such inscriptions on lamps degenerated to a point where they are better referred to as ‘pseudo-Greek’ characters that were clearly made by non-Greek speakers. On the lamp illustrated in Fig. 10:10, this is demonstrated by an omega with four, rather than three bars, as well as by a double-tiered psi. This lamp should most likely be assigned a date in the eighth century. The last vessel from below Floor 132 is a carinated bowl of light gray fabric and a dark gray core, with an upright, thickened and rounded rim, decorated with a polychrome glazed interior in yellow, black and green (Fig. 10:1). It does not fit any of the types in established and published typologies spanning the Early and Middle Islamic periods. Given the unique nature of this vessel, only a possible date-range of the tenth to eleventh centuries can be offered.
Pottery from Stratum II. This assemblage (Fig. 11) includes pottery from three sealed or clean loci from both above and below the damaged floor (L135) that has been dated to the second half of the eighth and the ninth centuries. This corpus contained many Early Islamic fine-ware bowls with thin walls, made of pale red fabric with a gray core, and purplish horizontal striations on the vessels’ exterior (Fig. 11:1, 2, 4). Also present are buff-ware bowls with an offset upturned rim (Fig. 11:3) and bowls with a carinated and everted rims bearing three incised lines along their top (Fig. 11:5). In addition, the floor also yielded a large, shallow bowl (Fig. 11:6) made of reddish yellow fabric that is characteristic of the Jerusalem pottery. Basins from this assemblage have forms reminiscent of their Umayyad predecessors, but are made of a reddish gray fabric characteristic of the Abbasid period. One example has an arched rim and an interesting incised triangle decoration along its top (Fig. 11:7), while the other was carinated, had at least one handle, wavy-band combing on the exterior below the rim zone, and an internally-thickened flat rim (Fig. 11:8). While most of the corpus from Stratum II consisted of bowls, a few cooking wares were present, including the standard Abbasid wheel-made globular cooking pot (Fig. 11:9) with a beveled, slightly rounded and out-turned rim.
The excavation revealed Early Islamic-period structure near the northwestern corner of the Old City. The pottery from the building indicates that it served as a private residence. For some unknown reason the dwelling went out of use in the tenth century CE. The place was abandoned until the twelfth century CE, when the cistern was probably cleaned and a residential compound was built around it; these features were partially exposed in the excavation. Based on the ceramic artifacts, the residential complex continued to exist with minor changes, including raising floors and renewing walls, until the thirteenth century CE. Presumably, the compound continued to exist afterwards as well, but this could not be ascertained because the later strata had been removed during the renovation work prior to the excavation.
The identity of the residents in this part of the city was clarified on the basis of the osteological finds. In both strata, that of the Early Islamic period and that of the Crusader and Early Mamluk periods, bones of goats, sheep, cattle, camel, poultry and a horse or donkey (all of the teeth indicate horses), as well as pig bones were found. The pig bones indicate that the population was Christian even prior to the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem. This find corroborates what we already know from historical sources: that this part of the Old City, identified as the ‘Patriarch’s Quarter’ in the tenth century CE (Boas 2001
:83), was a residential area for a Christian community. Eventually, the buildings were completely removed, and all remained of them were patches of plaster floor, small sections of walls and a cistern. The reason for the destruction of the buildings is unknown, but they were probably demolished as a result of the construction of the outer wall in the northwestern corner of the city in the early eleventh century CE (Weksler-Bdolah 2011
) or as a result of the expulsion of the city’s Christian residents prior to the arrival of the Crusader army in Jerusalem (Boas 2001
:9). The osteological finds indicate that the residents that returned to the place and constructed the building in the twelfth century CE were also Christians, and it seems that this was part of the renewed occupancy of Jerusalem by Christians following the Crusader conquest. According to historical sources, a grain market existed in the open area north of Jaffa Gate (Boas 2001:142), but on the basis of the finds from the excavation it seems that the market place did not extend as far as the northwestern corner of the city wall.