Two areas (A, B; Fig. 2) were opened. A natural cave was cleaned and a cistern was documented in Area A; layers of fill dating to the Ottoman period, which covered remains of a wall and floor from the Late Roman period, were excavated in Area B.
Area A
A natural cave (L100; 4.0 × 5.2 m, max. height 1.58 m) was exposed during the course of renovation work in the southwestern corner of the modern building. The cave was lined along its eastern side with a later wall (W10), whose exact date is unclear. It was filled almost to its ceiling with soil fill that had washed in and contained a few Ottoman potsherds and a worn perforated coin from the Abbasid period (ninth century CE; IAA 137406). A rock-hewn cistern (4.4 × 4.7 m, depth 2.72 m), whose eastern side was connected to the cave, was discovered west of it. When the cistern was no longer in use, it was partitioned into two rooms by a wall (W11; 0.60–0.75 m). A probe was excavated down to the level of bedrock in each of the rooms (L101, L102); however, no artifacts that predated the period of the cistern’s final use in the twentieth century were discovered.
Area B
An area (5.0 × 6.5 m) was opened next to the southern side of the building and east of the bedrock cliff that Bliss and Dickie documented; remains dating to the Ottoman and Late Roman periods were found, as well as rock-cuttings.
The Ottoman Period. A thick layer of fill (thickness 1.6 m), which contained potsherds from recent centuries and ancient periods, a bronze coin from the time of the Great Revolt (67/8 CE; Jerusalem mint; IAA 137408) and a silver para of the Ottoman sultan Ahmed III (1703–1730 CE; Constantinia mint), was excavated. A wall (W20; length 2.64 m, width 0.65–0.70 m), oriented east–west and built of two rows of stone, was exposed below this layer; the southern side was leaning onto bedrock (width 0.25–0.30 m, min. height 0.7 m) and the northern side was a two-courses high wall (width 0.4 m, height 0.57 m) that had a built foundation (depth 0.9 m). South of W20 was a modern wall that stood three courses high (W21; min. length 2.4 m, width 1.1 m, width 0.9 m) and was built on a hewn bedrock terrace (height 0.47 m); the wall was only partially exposed because it continued beneath a paved asphalt street.
The Roman Period. A section of a plaster floor (L201; width 1 m) was exposed between Walls 20 and 21; the floor overlay fragments of bowls (Fig. 3:1–4) that dated to the Late Roman period and a rim of a cooking pot (Fig. 3:5) from the Early Roman period. The bowl fragments enabled to date the floor foundation to the fourth–fifth centuries CE, at the earliest.
Rock-cuttings. An arch-shaped rock-cutting (width 0.2 m, depth 0.15–0.20 m) with traces of plaster was identified on the western side of the area (Figs. 2: Section 1-1, 4); the rock-cutting was probably used as a drainage channel that led to a non-exposed low water reservoir. Another three shallow rock-cuttings were documented at the same elevation; one was to the south of the drainage channel (0.10 × 0.12 m, depth 8 cm) and the other two were north of the channel (0.12 × 0.14 m, depth 9 cm). The function of the rock-cuttings could not be determined due to the conclusion of the excavation; they were probably used as support points for the construction of a roof or vault that did not survive.
It is not possible to date the quarrying of the cistern in Area A, but it seems that it was used up to the last century. The fill from the recent centuries in Area B did not facilitate exposing the strata from previous periods, except for a small section of a floor. The latest pottery vessels discovered below it dated to the Late Roman period and therefore, it can be suggested that the floor was built at the earliest in the fourth–fifth centuries CE.