During March 2007, a salvage excavation was conducted along the northwestern fringes of the Sur Bahir neighborhood in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-5075; map ref. 22155/62740), prior to the construction of a school. The excavation, undertaken of behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Jerusalem Municipality, was directed by Z. ‘Adawi, with the assistance of B. Touri (preparing the area for excavation), D. Porotsky (surveying) and T. Sagiv (field photography).
A rectangular area (3.5 × 14.0 m) was opened near the top of a spur slope that descends to the north, c. 1 km east of the Ramat Rahel site. Part of an ancient quarry that extended beyond the limits of the excavation area was exposed (Figs. 1–3). The quarry was found covered with three layers of deposits: an upper layer (thickness c. 7 m) of dark brown earth, containing various size fieldstones, which was removed with the aid of mechanical equipment; a middle layer (thickness 0.1–0.4 m) of light brown soil mixed with quarrying debris; and a bottom layer (thickness 0.1–0.5 m) that had accumulated at the bottom of the quarry and contained only quarrying debris of fine yellowish white gravel. The upper layer and part of the middle layer, which covered the quarry after it was no longer in use, were the result of soil erosion that originated from farther up the slope, south of the quarry.
The quarrying apparently progressed from the southern part of the quarry to the north and northwest, in keeping with the bend in the slope. The quarrying depth varied according to the quality of bedrock. It seems that no quarrying was done in the northeastern part, close to a round natural void (L104). Two quarrying levels were discerned in the eastern part of the quarry that was hewn to a depth of just 0.6 m, whereas three quarrying levels were observed on the southern wall in the southwestern part of the quarry, which was hewn to a depth of c. 1.7 m (Fig. 4). Judging by the quarrying lines, it seems that various size stones and stone blocks (0.3–0.7 × 0.7–1.5 m) were extracted. The negatives of two hewn stone blocks (0.6 × 0.7 m) were preserved in the eastern part of the quarry.
Pottery vessels that dated to the Late Roman and Byzantine periods were found in the two upper soil layers that covered the quarry. Although the middle layer contained rock-cutting debris that originated in the quarry itself, the ceramic finds it contained cannot be used with certainty to date the quarry. Nevertheless, it seems that the stones cut in the quarry were used in the construction of some nearby sites, such as Kh. Sabiha, Ramat Rahel, Kh. Za‘kuka and Kh. Umm Tuba (A. Kloner 2000. Map of Talpiyot. Survey of Jerusalem:The Southern Sector, Sites 72, 95, 115, 119).