During December 2004, a salvage excavation was conducted in the compound of Bet Ha-Tsofe in the City of David’s visitor’s center (Permit No. A-4336; map ref. NIG 22243/63126; OIG 17243/13126). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the ‘Ir David Foundation, was directed by T. De‘adle, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (field photography) and A. Pikovsky (pottery drawing).
An arch built in the upper part of the cistern of plastered ashlar stones was used to support the ceiling. Ledges of sorts were hewn in bedrock for placing the voussoirs. Two rows of stone slab covers, placed in the upper north and south part of the cistern had partly rested on bedrock and partly on the arch. The spaces between the covering slabs were filled with gray cement. Sections of a crushed-chalk floor (L152), which apparently covered the entire surface of the slabs, were exposed above the covering slabs. The cistern had two openings that were ascribed to two different phases of its use. The later opening was a square shaft built of fieldstones (W102), whereas the earlier opening was plastered and set between the covering slabs in the northern row and the voussoirs. It was blocked with fieldstones, similar to those used in the construction of the later opening and it therefore seems that these two actions were performed contemporaneously. The soil that had accumulated at the bottom of the cistern was not excavated. It seems that this soil penetrated into the cistern as a result of earthmoving activity by mechanical equipment. A similar cistern, excavated by Macalister in the 1920s in Area 5 south of here, was dated to the Herodian period (Macalister R.A.S. and Duncan J.G. 1926. Excavations on the Hill of Ophel, Jerusalem 1923–1925 [PEFA 4]).
The southern part of an installation (L153), built of dark gray cement and coated with light gray plaster, was exposed next to the cistern’s northern covering slabs. Two steps built in the western side of the installation were plastered too. The bottom of the installation was not exposed.
Two walls (W100, W101) that formed the northeastern corner of a room were discovered atop the cistern’s southern covering slabs. The walls, built of different size fieldstones, were preserved two to three courses high (max. 0.76 m). Soil fill exposed inside the corner (L158), down to the base of the walls, yielded a bag-shaped jar (Fig. 3:4) and a bowl (Fig. 3:5) from the Roman period (second–fourth centuries CE) and a krater of the arched-rim basin type (Fig. 3:1), a rouletted bowl with gouged decoration (Fig. 3:2) and a cooking pot (Fig. 3:3) from the Byzantine period (fifth–sixth centuries CE). Soil fill, close to W100 and outside the corner between the walls, contained a krater decorated with finger indentations and wavy combing that dated to the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE; Fig. 3:6).