The Byzantine Period
Remains from the Byzantine period comprise three walls built of large fieldstones of various shapes (W21, W24, W26; Figs. 3, 4), forming at least five rooms or spaces that seem to have belonged to a single structure, possibly a residential unit. In two rooms, small-pebble floors (L35, L36) were found. Both floors were built upon a layer of quarrying waste (0.10–0.15 m thick), which served as a bedding. The bedrock was reached under this floor bedding in two spots on the eastern side of the excavated area. The bedrock in both places bore signs of quarrying and leveling activity, clearly predating the beginning of construction works at the site.
A rich assemblage of pottery (Fig. 5), discovered in the debris above the Floors, comprises mainly late Byzantine finds (sixth–early seventh centuries CE): bowls (Fig. 5:1–3), basins (Fig. 5:4–7), cooking vessels (Fig. 5:8, 9), a storage jar (Fig. 5:10), lids belonging to imported storage vessels (Fig. 5:11, 12) and lamps (Fig. 5:13, 14). Noteworthy is the large quantity of Byzantine roof tiles discovered within the relatively small area of the excavation. Additional Byzantine-period finds are fragments glass vessels dated to the sixth–seventh centuries CE (Winter, below) and four coins dated to the sixth century CE (Bijovsky, below), as well as a few marble chunks and numerous white, limestone mosaic tesserae, although no mosaic floor was found. Based on these finds, the early construction phase can be dated to the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE).
The Late Ottoman Period
The remains of the late Ottoman-period construction comprise massive foundation walls (W1/W2, W3, W5, W28; Fig. 6)—most probably the southwestern corner of a very large structure with a courtyard. Two water installations were identified in the courtyard: an opening (L4) leading to a closed, underground cistern, and the corner of an open, built water reservoir (L33), most of which lies outside the excavation area. Both water installations remain unexcavated. An additional wall (W11) seems to have served as a pillar base, supporting the balcony of the second floor of the structure. The excavation uncovered the foundation trenches of this building, which penetrated deeply and, in certain places, cut the Byzantine remains (Fig. 7).
This partly exposed late Ottoman structure was identified with a residential complex built by the Russian Foreign Ministry in 1895 for employees of the Russian Consulate in Jerusalem (Lisovoi 2000:86–87). During the second half of the nineteenth century, the entire area turned into one large construction site for a variety of foreign institutions. In the 1850s, the St. Louis Hospital was erected, and from the 1880s to 1904, the large pilgrimage complex of Notre Dame was built (Figs. 1, 8). Several of the nineteenth-century structures found themselves on the demarcation line in 1948; they were badly damaged between 1948 and 1967 and were demolished after the Six Day War. As the area was systematically destroyed in the early 1970s, it is not surprising that only few material finds were retrieved from the building.
The Glass Finds
Tamar Winter
A dozen glass fragments, discovered in the debris (L27) above Floor 35 belong to vessels characteristic of the Byzantine period. These include several rims of bowls and wineglasses adorned with a dark-blue trail wound on and below the rim (Fig. 9:1–4) and a hollow ring base of a wineglass with a single-bead stem (Fig. 9:5). Also found was an outfolded rim with part of a handle (Fig. 9:6) belonging to a bowl-shaped lamp with three handles. It was found together with a metal wire, which was probably used to suspend the lamp by its handles. Similar vessels were recovered in past excavations in Jerusalem and its environs (e.g., Winter 2014; 2017), and some analogous examples are associated with the monastic complex that flourished north of Damascus Gate during the late Byzantine period, in the sixth–seventh centuries CE (e.g., Winter 2013; an unpublished excavation on Hel Ha-Handasa Street, Permit No. A-5671).
The Coins
Gabriela Bijovsky
Nine bronze coins were discovered during the excavation, of which four were unidentifiable. The other five represent well the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, when the site was occupied (Table 1).
Table 1. Identified Coins
Description and date (CE)
Anastasius I, 10 nummia, Constantinople, 498-518
Vandalic Anonymous, nummus, Carthage, 534-565
Blank flan, c. 450-550
Justin II, half follis, Thessalonica, 566/7
Ottoman, Bayazid II, manghir, Bursa, AH 886-918/1481-1512
The excavation results contribute important data to the study of activity in the Byzantine-period northern extramural quarter of the ancient city, expanding its known boundary to the west. The discovery of the bedrock under the Byzantine remains provides significant information regarding the ancient topography in this part of the city. The future study of the nineteenth-century remains will supply additional information regarding the activity of the European empires in Jerusalem during the declining days of Ottoman rule.