Most of the remains exposed in the excavation belong to the stepped street that was very well preserved (L1000; exposed length c. 15 m, width 8.1 m; Figs. 2–4). The street’s pavement was built of large stone slabs (the largest slab measured 0.5 × 1.0 × 2.0 m). Four steps, at intervals of 4.5–6.8 m, were exposed in the excavation. The steps in the street section that was uncovered in the past, near the Siloam Pool, were set closer together. It seems that the section found in this excavation was in an area that was not as steep, and therefore the distance between the steps was larger. A black, burnt layer, rich in finds, was exposed above the pavement, covering the entire width of the street. In the eastern part of the street, this destruction layer yielded dozens of shattered in-situ pottery vessels, metal artifacts and glassware, including a small date-shaped bottle (Fig. 5), as well as numerous coins, the latest of which are from Year Two and Year Three of the Jewish War, shortly before the city was destroyed in 70 CE (Fig. 6). This layer was sealed by a pile of collapsed ashlars that sloped in a general direction from east to west. It seems that the stones collapsed from the buildings that stood on the eastern side of the street. These stones were covered with thin horizontal layers of alluvium, probably the result of rainfall and erosion that drained into the Tyropoeon Valley. A layer of soil and fieldstones containing artifacts from the Late Roman and Byzantine periods was exposed above the alluvium; it was severed by pits that were dug as far down as the alluvial layers.
No curbstones were found on the western side of the street, but the westernmost paving slabs were arranged along a straight line. On the eastern side of the street the cover of a manhole was exposed (0.15 × 0.53 × 0.60 m; Fig. 7), which connected the street level to the ceiling of the drainage channel that passed beneath it; the manhole was sealed by the destruction layer that covered the street. Manholes of this kind provided easy access to the drainage channel in order to carry out repairs and maintenance. The cover was placed between the stone pavers, and these were fitted to accommodate it. In the center of the cover were two holes, probably suited for a rope or a metal ring that would have allowed the lifting of the cover, as described in the Mishnah (Middot 3, 3; for more information, see Ben-Ari 2007:103–105). Another manhole opening of similar dimensions was discovered c. 12 m to its north; no cover was discovered, but a groove, probably for setting a cover stone, was hewn in the stone slabs around the opening. It should be noted that two cover stones were found near the stepped street in the past, one inside the main drainage channel (Shukron and Reich 2008:148–149) and the other among the street’s paving slabs beneath Robinson’s Arch (Reich and Billig 1999; 2008).
Excavation trenches that Bliss and Dickie (1898: General Plan No. II) dug were exposed along the eastern edge of the street (width 0.6 m). The trenches in this area were dug from south to north and they were usually no more than 0.9 m wide (Bliss and Dickie 1898). Bliss and Dickie found part of a staircase inside one of their trenches (M3; Bliss and Dickie 2010:130, Map 2). The partial exposure of this staircase and the convoluted description of it have left it shrouded in mystery until now (Bliss and Dickie 1898:141–142). In the current excavation, the area was exposed including the staircase, which the original excavators referred to as a podium (L1001; Fig. 8). Upon completion of the excavation of the podium, it became clear that its construction was integrated with that of the street. The podium’s steps were built of large, hard pink limestone ashlars (mizzi-ahmar), some of which still bore the marks of finely drafted margins. Gray-white hydraulic plaster mixed with white gravel was preserved between the stones. The upper step was built of a single rectangular stone slab (0.25 × 0.90 × 1.35 m). Two steps descended from the top slab to the north, three steps descended to the west and four steps descended to the south (0.25–0.30 m rise, 0.31–0.38 m run). The staircase resembled a pyramidal podium with only three sides; the fourth side, on the east, was straight and was leaning against the street’s retaining wall (W2). The podium’s western step, which was exposed in the current excavation, was the longest of the steps and was bonded with the stone pavement in the street. The podium protruded c. 1.9 m westward from the edge of the street’s eastern curb, into the area of the street. It was also just c. 0.65 m from the manhole cover. The construction of the podium might have been made possible here because the incline of this section of the street was relatively moderate as compared with its other sections. Bliss and Dickie exposed the cellar of a destroyed building east of the podium. The function of the podium and its connection to the building that stood to its east have not yet been ascertained (for more information, see Szanton and Uziel 2015). The area east of the podium was revealed in the current excavation, where there was the retaining wall (W2) east of the street and the podium, and another two walls (W3, W4) that formed a corner of the building that was destroyed. Wall 2 adjoined the outer face of W3. The eastern curb of the street and the northern side of the podium rested up against W4. It seems that the building was situated there before the street, but continued to be used until the time of the street’s destruction. The western part of a round installation (L1002; Fig. 9) that was treated with gray-black plaster was exposed in the corner of Walls 3 and 4, inside the ancient building. The installation, which was covered with ash and collapsed stones, was destroyed together with the building around it and the stepped street.
Layers of tamped soil, one above the other (thickness 0.7 m), were discovered in the excavation above the covering slabs of the main drainage channel. Above these layers of soil was a layer of light gray mortar and small fieldstones (L527; max. thickness 0.2 m) sealed beneath the street’s paving stones; this layer served as the roadbed for the street. A similar description of an area above the drainage channel was reported by Bliss and Dickie (2010:129). The soil fills above the drainage channel contained pottery sherds, coins and glassware. The preliminary dating indicates that the street was built in this area in the first century CE (below). The thickness of the soil layers above the drainage channel varied in accordance with topography and building remains. Below the street pavement was also discovered a system of walls and colonnettes that was meant to support the large stone slabs on the street. One of these retaining walls was bonded in the wall of the drainage channel (see Fig. 4) that was excavated by Shukron and Reich (2008; 2010). Coins were found in probes excavated in two different points below the street pavement. The latest coin dates to 30–31 CE, the time of the procurator Pontius Pilate (Fig. 10). Based on this it was possible to unequivocally date the construction of the street to the fourth decade of the first century CE, at the earliest. Similar dating for the building of the street was derived from other sections of it that were exposed, such as the section located below Robinson’s Arch (Reich and Billig 2008:1809; Reich 2015:404).