Description of the ‘Great Causeway’

The arch bridge discussed in this article had been referred to in the past by various names, including ‘The Giant Viaduct’, ‘The Great Causeway’, and ‘Wilson’s Arch and the Causeway Vaults’ (Warren and Conder 1884:193–209, Wilson 1880:24, Plan 8). M. Avi-Yonah called it Wilson’s Bridge (Avi-Yonah M. 1957 [a]. The Archaeology and Topography of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period. In M. Avi-Yonah [ed.]. The Jerusalem Book. The Nature, History and Development of Jerusalem from Its Earliest Times until the Present. Volume 1. The Natural Conditions and the History of the City from its Beginning until the Destruction of the Second Temple. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, pp. 305–319, Map 10: Jerusalem in the Second Temple period [Hebrew]), and that is the name the authors of this report adopted in previous reports (Onn A., Weksler-Bdolah S, and Avni G. 2009. "Wilson’s Bridge" in Light of New Excavations, Innovations in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Surroundings 2:55–63 [Hebrew]; Weksler-Bdolah, Onn and Rosenthal-Heginbottom 2009). 
The length of the Great Causeway, extending between Ha-Gāy Street in the west and the western wall of the Temple Mount in the east, is c. 100 m; its overall width is 10.8–11.0 m and it passes above the Tyropoeon Valley, next to the confluence with the Transverse Valley (Nahal Ha-‘Arev). Today, the Street of the Chain, leading to the Chain Gate of the Temple Mount, is borne atop the causeway. The Great Causeway is composed of several units that were built in different time periods; these units are referred to below by the letters: A, B, C, D1 and D2 (Figs. 2, 3). The beginning of the causeway in the east is the monumental Wilson’s Arch (below: C), which is supported up against the western wall of the Temple Mount. Extending westward, the Great Causeway consists of two rows of narrower arches, or vaults: a northern row (D1) and a
southern row (D2), which are adjacent to each other and founded atop buildings that date to the Second Temple period (Fig. 3). The northern (D1) and southern (D2) rows of arches are quite similar in their overall appearance; however, a significant discrepancy along their contact line, and the variable width and height of adjacent vaults indicate that they were built at different times (Fig. 4). The walls enclosing the arches to the north and south were built during the Roman period and thus created enclosed spaces inside the archways. These enclosed spaces were numbered in ascending order from west to east (below, arch/vault or room No. 1, 2, 3 etc.). The arches in the eastern part of the Great Causeway were founded on a monumental building composed of three halls, which dated to the Second Temple period (below, Building B). The arches in its western part were founded on a massive foundation wall (max. width c. 14 m), which to the best of our knowledge today, also dates to the Second Temple period (below; W5006, Building A). Remains of the eastern Roman cardo, generally oriented north–south, were exposed beneath what is known today as the westernmost arch of the Great Causeway. Large buildings (below E, F, G) that were constructed in a later period south of the Great Causeway had survived by a narrow route (H) between them, known by the name of the ‘Secret Passage’.
The current excavations (2007–2010) were conducted in the northern part of Room 3 (Vault 304),  Room 5 (Vaults 502, 504), Room 6 (Vaults 602, 604), the northern part of Room 8 (Vault 804), and in Room 21, located on a lower level beneath the southern part of Room 8 (Vault 802) and below the Secret Passage. A later blocking wall (W400) that had sealed off the entrance from the Secret Passage into Room 4 of the Great Causeway (Vault 402) was breached. In addition, a cistern that was installed inside the northern vault (Vault 404) of Vault 4 was partly cleaned. Furthermore, two areas were excavated along the Secret Passage (Onn A. and Solomon A. 2008. A Window to Aelia Capitolina in the Western Wall Tunnel Excavations, Innovations in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Surroundings 1: 85–93; Onn, Weksler-Bdolah and Avni 2009; Weksler-Bdolah, Onn and Rosenthal-Heginbottom, 2009; Onn A. and Weksler-Bdolah S. 2011a. Wilson’s Arch in Light of New Excavations and Past Studies. In D. Amit, O. Peleg-Bareket and G.D. Steibel [eds.], Innovations in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Surroundings Wilson’s Arch and the Great Causeway in the Second Temple Period and in the Roman Period – In Light of New Excavations. Qadmoniot 140:109–122 [Hebrew]). 4:84–100 [Hebrew]; Onn A. and Weksler-Bdolah S. 2011b.
The finds identified in the excavation of the Great Causeway are ascribed to sixteen archaeological strata, listed below:

Principal Finds
Century or Year (CE)
Modern, post 1967
Removal of soil fill, repairs and concrete castings
Twentieth–twenty-first centuries, post 1967
Mandatory and Ottoman
Cisterns, cesspits
Nineteenth–twentieth centuries
Thirteenth–fifteenth centuries
Pillar in a Crusader building
Twelfth century
Early Islamic
Ninth–tenth centuries
Covering the top of the Secret Passage with a barrel vault and the installation of a staircase linking the Secret Passage to the Street of the Chain
Seventh–eighth centuries
Late Byzantine
Installations and floors
Sixth–seventh centuries
Early Byzantine
Fourth–fifth centuries
Late Roman-Aelia Capitolina
Expansion of the building E into a large structure with rooms (F), construction of another building to the west (Building G), and formation of the Secret Passage (H) between the Great Causeway (D) and Buildings F and G
Third–fourth century
Late Roman
Construction of the southern line of arches in the Great Causeway (D2). Completion of the causeway structure and paving the decumanus on top of it. Construction of the latrine structure south of the Great Causeway (E)
Second–third centuries
Late Roman
Construction of the northern line of arches (D1) in the east in the east in the Great Causeway.
Early Second century
Late Roman
Industrial ovens and installations
Late First–early second centuries
Destruction of the Second Temple
Destruction layer 50 m west of the Temple Mount and further west. No damage was caused to Wilson’s Arch and the arches adjacent to it.
70 CE
Second Temple
Ritual baths and installations
First century, before 70 CE
Early Roman, Second Temple Period
Renovation of Wilson’s Arch and completion of Staircase C (‘the interchange’) connected to it
First century, before 70 CE
Early Roman, Second Temple Period
Buildings next to Wilson’s Arch
First century, before 70 CE
Early Roman, Second Temple Period
Collapse—destruction, possibly by an earthquake. Damage to Wilson’s Arch
33 CE (presumed)
Early Roman, Second Temple Period
Expansion of the Temple Mount during Herod’s reign, Wilson’s Arch (C)
First century BCE
Late Hellenistic–Early Roman
Wide foundation wall (W5006, A) and a monumental public building (B)
First century BCE (Hasmonean or Herodian period), before the expansion of the Temple Mount

The finds from the excavations conducted in the cavities of the Great Causeway and its vicinity (the Secret Passage and the buildings south of it) are presented below according to chronological phases, from the earliest to the latest.

Remains from the Second Temple Period: First Century BCE–First Century CE, until the Year 70
The remains from the Second Temple period are ascribed to two main construction phases. The early phase occurred prior to the expansion of the Temple Mount by Herod, probably in the first century BCE, in the Late Hasmonean period or the beginning of Herod’s reign. The late phase is connected to the construction that took place next to the western wall of the Temple Mount, when the latter was enlarged during Herod’s reign (c. 20 BCE), until 70 CE. The buildings of the early phase were adapted to the natural topography, particularly to the channels of the Transverse and the Tyropoeon Valleys, and their main axes corresponded to the ordinal directions of the compass. Unlike the early phase, the buildings of the late phase were usually aligned to correspond with the western wall of the Temple Mount, and they were perpendicular or parallel to its general north–south orientation.
Stratum 16. The Second Temple Period, the Early Construction Phase: First Century BCE
The early construction phase included a broad foundation wall (W5006; below, A; Figs. 5, 6) and a monumental public building (below, B), which consists of three halls (21, 22, 23). The northern part of Building B is integrated in Foundation Wall A. The main axis of Foundation Wall A and Building B is aligned perpendicular to the Tyropoeon Valley and extends from southwest to northeast.
Foundation Wall 5006 (Building A). The top of W5006 was discovered in excavations currently situated 50–100 m west of the western wall of the Temple Mount, in Rooms 5 (502, 504), 6 (602, 604) and 8 (804), as well as in the Secret Passage, in front of the entrance to Room 5. It has a maximum width of c. 13 m in the area exposed so far, whereas beneath Room 804, in the area north of Hall 21 of Building A, its width was reduced to just c. 6 m. The foundation wall is built in the opus caementicium, which uses a casting of small and medium stones bonded with hard mortar (Figs. 7, 8, 9). The top of the foundation wall is uniform, at an elevation of c. 730 m above sea level. The southern side of W5006 was discovered beneath Room 804 of the Great Causeway; where it is built of courses of square, roughly hewn stones and small stones between them (Fig. 10, section 2–2). Here the foundation wall is erected on two elongated arches built of dressed stones (230, 240, Fig. 11). It seems that the construction of the vaults and casting of the foundation wall above them in this phase were done in a single construction phase; however, final conclusions would be drawn only after the excavations in Vaults 230 and 240 are completed.
The location of Foundation Wall 5006 (Building A) across the Tyropoeon Valley channel, the solid method of its construction, its great width and flat uniform top allow us to assume that it was used simultaneously as a dam and as a road. At the point where it crosses the stream channel it was probably also used as a bridge. The presumed starting point of the road borne atop Wall 5006 was in the Upper City. It most likely led to the western gate of the Temple Mount, whose location at that time was most likely several dozen meters northeast of the current Gate of the Chain.
The top of the wall was damaged by installations coated with gray hydraulic plaster, one of which has been identified as a ritual bath (L6157). These installations (L5060, L6157, L6158, L8042 in Rooms 5, 6, 8) were discovered blocked with earth and stone collapse that contained a wealth of artifacts, including fragments of pottery vessels, stone vessels and coins, dating to the end of the Second Temple period, probably when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE. These finds prove that the foundation wall was built prior to the year 70 CE. The top of the foundation wall was sealed by the vault piers of the Great Causeway and it therefore predated them as well.
Monumental Public Building (Building B). Three halls (21, 22, 23; Fig. 5) were revealed in Building B. The currently known walls of the structure were built of ashlars with delicate margin dressing. The main entrance to the building was a double monumental doorway, set in the eastern side. The interior walls of Halls 21 and 23 were decorated with a molded cornice that protruded from the line of the wall about a third of the way up from the floor. Above the cornice, engaged pillars at set intervals protruded from the line of the wall (Fig. 12). The capitals incorporated in the tops of the pillars and the ceilings of the original halls were not preserved, except for one capital in the corner of Hall 23, whose original shape is unknown because it was severely damaged. The eastern Hall 23 was first exposed by Warren who named it the ‘Masonic Hall’ (Warren 1876:370–371; Warren and Conder 1884:200–202). It was further studied by Stinespring (1967) and by Bahat and Maier (Bahat 1994; 2007), and since then has been referred to as the Hasmonean or the Herodian Hall. Hall 21 was recently investigated by A. Onn, who ascertained its ascription to the building. Building B was damaged at some point during the Second Temple period. Its original ceiling was removed and the tops of its walls were damaged. It was repaired in the same period, probably in Stratum 13.
Plastered Installation 3260. A plastered installation (L3260) is also attributed to this stratum. It is connected to white-plaster floors and was discovered in Room 31, south of the Great Causeway.
Strata 15–13. The Second Temple Period: The Late Construction Phase
The beginning of this phase (Stratum 15) is related to the expansion of the Temple Mount during Herod’s reign and it continues until the destruction of the city in 70 CE (Figs. 13, 14). Extensive building activity occurred at the foot of the Temple Mount’s western wall at this time and Wilson’s Arch (Building C; see Fig. 3) is the principal structure belonging to this phase. The arch is part of an ‘interchange’ that is similar in its general shape to the ‘interchange’ at Robinson’s Arch. At some point in time, which cannot be dated with certainty (Stratum 14), destruction that resulted in the collapse of building stones with drafted margins (known as Herodian stones) had occurred. So far, this collapse has been documented near the Wilson’s Arch pier. The destruction can be ascribed to an earthquake that struck Jerusalem in the year 31 BCE, or more likely, in the years 30 or 33 CE; it may have been caused by some other, unknown reason. Subsequent to this earthquake event, construction was resumed and the damaged buildings were repaired (Stratum 13). The tops of the walls in Halls 21 and 23 of Building B were completed and new vaulted roofs were placed above them. Toward the end of this phase (Stratum 13), plastered installations were added, several of which have been identified as ritual baths in the vaulted spaces (C) of Wilson’s Arch ‘interchange’ and at the top of Foundation Wall A.
Wilson’s Arch ‘Interchange’ (Building C). Wilson’s Arch is built of 23 courses of rectangular stones that are the same size as the stones in the Western Wall. The surfaces of the stones are smoothed and many have drafted margins along their four edges. The length of the arch (from north to south) is 14.8 m, its width (diameter) is 12.8 m and its height above the springing line in the walls (= radius) is 6.4 m. The western side of the arch is founded on a pier, whose top is only exposed at present (see Fig. 3). The dimensions of the pier in Wilson’s Arch are similar to that of Robinson’s Arch. In its bottom part, which Warren saw and documented in the narrow shaft he dug alongside it, he described a compartment whose shape somewhat resembled the compartments incorporated in the pier of Robinson’s Arch, which are customarily identified as shops. Wilson's Arch is completely integrated in the stone courses of the Western Wall (Fig. 16, 17). The courses of the arch are similar in size and shape to those of the Western Wall and stones that are part of both the wall and the arch were incorporated in the spot where the springing of the arch emerged from the Western Wall. All the arch’s stones that are visible on its western side above the current prayer plaza are dressed with drafted margins, characteristic of Herodian construction. The manner in which the arch joins the western pier (W417) is identical to its integration in the Western Wall. This data shows that Wilson’s Arch was constructed together with the Herodian Western Wall and with the western pier. The incorporation of Wilson’s Arch in the stone courses of the Western Wall was already noted in the nineteenth century by Wilson and Warren (Fig. 15), but they themselves, and other scholars in later periods, suggested that the current Wilson’s Arch was built at a different time, in the location of a similar arch from the Second Temple period that had been destroyed in 70 CE. Kloner proposed ascribing the current arch to the time of Hadrian’s reign; Warren attributed it to the time of Constantine or Justinian and Bahat and Ben-Dov claimed it dated to the Umayyad period. The arch’s appearance, its method of construction, its total integration in the Western Wall and the archaeological finds from the current and past excavations all support the conclusion that the current arch was erected in the Second Temple period, prior to 70 CE; it was not damaged in the destruction of that year and remained complete and in situ.
Two small, narrower arches were exposed west of Wilson’s Arch in the past (Bahat 2007; Vaults 25, 26); above them was an additional level of arches (see Fig. 3). These arches, together with new roof vaults that were built in this phase above the halls in Building A: 21, 22 (presumably) and 23, and walls from the Second Temple period (W321, W323), located today at the base of a Roman building constructed south of the Great Causeway (E), are all attributed to the system of vaults that was built west and south of Wilson’s Arch for the purpose of supporting a staircase atop them. We proposed identifying the staircase that was exposed in the past above the top of the pier of Wilson’s Arch (Kogan-Zehavi 1994) as part of the steps that went up toward the entrance gate to the Temple Mount, where the Chain Gate is located today (Figs. 3, 18). One option says that the staircase began on the street near the Western Wall (whose presumed elevation was c. 722 m above sea level) and Wilson’s Arch interchange was essentially similar to Robinson’s Arch interchange. Another option suggests that the staircase ascended from west to east. The presumed top of it was the top of Foundation Wall 5006 (A), whose elevation is c. 730 m, and it rose toward the plaza that was above Wilson’s Arch at an elevation of c. 736 m above sea level. The renewed roofing on the three halls in Building B (21, 23 and presumably also 22) was most likely designed to link these elements.
Plastered Ritual Baths and Installations of the Second Temple Period. Ritual baths were installed in this phase inside the vault cavities adjacent to Wilson’s Arch (Rooms 24–26) and inside Hall 21 of Building B. The baths in Rooms 24–26 had previously been exposed by D. Bahat (Bahat 1997). Three coins dating to the years 54–59 CE (IAA 135020–022) were discovered in the foundation of the recently exposed Bath 20059 in Room 21 (Fig. 19). They indicate that the construction of the ritual baths occurred between the years 54–59 and 70 CE. Other installations from this phase (L5060, L6157, L6158, L8046; Fig. 13) were dug into and damaged the top of Foundation Wall A. These plastered installations were apparently used for collecting water or intended for storing products. One of the installations was identified as a ritual bath (L6157; Fig. 20). A coin (IAA 134975) struck in the year 54 CE was discovered in the plaster of Installation 5060, indicating that the installation was built after this date. All the installations were blocked with soil and stone fill that contained finds from the late Second Temple era or the beginning of the Roman period.
Stratum 12. Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE
The meager archaeological evidence of the destruction in the year 70 CE is primarily located in the western parts of the Great Causeway. The collapse of building stones, including fragments of pottery vessels, stone vases and coins that were minted in the years 41–42 CE (IAA 134974), 51–52 CE (IAA 134972) and until Year 2 of the Great Revolt (IAA 134973), were discovered in the fill of Installation 5060 (Fig. 19). The fill in Ritual Bath 6157 also contained similar finds. A partition of building stones in secondary use was constructed inside Installation 6158; the fill on either of its sides included finds dating to the Second Temple era and the beginning of the Roman period. Wilson’s Arch and the arches next to it, which in our opinion, belonged to a staircase from the Second Temple period (C), are intact and well-preserved; apparently, they were not destroyed during the Great Revolt. In addition, no burnt fill, such as that known from the residential quarters in the Upper City, was discovered. This situation is, to a great extent, different than the destruction collapse discovered at the foot of Robinson’s Arch. We can assume that Wilson’s Arch and the arches nearby (those belonging to Interchange C) survived and were not damaged because the Romans made use of it during the Great Revolt and afterward.
Remains from the Late Roman Period
Stratum 11. Late First–Early Second Centuries CE
The remains that can undoubtedly be attributed to undertakings of the legion’s soldiers after 70 CE point to industrial activity in the area (Fig. 22). A partially preserved, black burnt level (L5029) was discovered in Room 504. Two industrial furnaces with a bellows that may have been used to manufacture iron tools (L6156, L6159) were uncovered in Room 602 (Figs. 4, 23). The floor of another, slightly earlier furnace (L6162) was exposed beneath one of them. The furnaces were founded on destruction collapse and soil fill that was deliberately deposited inside plastered installations from the Second Temple period (L6157, L6158). Soil fill (L8042) in Room 804, which contained vessels dating to the years 70–130 CE, blocked Installation 8046 of the Second Temple period. The sides of the installations were sealed beneath the northern piers of the bridge (W804). Meager remains of installations and a small section of a plastered floor from this phase were also discovered in Room 31, south of the Great Causeway. The exposed remains, especially the installations, attest to the industrial activity of the Roman legion’s soldiers in this region, following the destruction of 70 CE. No buildings from this phase were discovered.
Aelia Capitolina: Second–Fourth Centuries CE
At some point, probably early in the second century CE, new buildings were constructed west of the Temple Mount. The main structure is the Great Causeway (Building D)—a long bridge of arches designed to carry a straight-line road at a high elevation into the Temple Mount (Figs. 22, 24). The level of the new road was determined according to the elevation at the top of Wilson’s Arch from the Second Temple period, which was incorporated into the new bridge. Following the completion of the bridge, large public structures (E, F, G) were built to its south.
Strata 10–9. The Great Causeway (Building D): Second–Early Third Centuries CE. The Great Causeway complex (D) is composed of Wilson’s Arch, supported up against the Temple Mount in the east, and two rows of arches to its west: a northern row (D1) and a southern (D2) one that were built one after the other, with a short time lapse between them. They were built of regular courses of large rectangular limestone blocks whose outline is either round barrel-shaped or slightly pointed. A wide arch, longer than the other arches, is built at what we currently know as the western end of the Great Causeway (below Arch 100; Figs. 2, 3, 26). The Eastern Cardo was exposed beneath this arch.
For a distance of c. 80 m, in the western part of what we currently know as the Great Causeway, a structure (D) was founded on the broad foundation wall (A) of the Second Temple period or on the vaulted roofs of the halls of the monumental building (B), which are incorporated in it. The Great Causeway (D) was built to conform to the axes of Buildings A and B. Its overall width (10.8–11.0 m) is narrower than that of Foundation Wall A (c. 14 m), which protruded below it c. 1.6 m to the north and south, beyond the causeway sides. The orientation of the Great Causeway (D) changes c. 20 west of the Western Wall; it turns east toward Wilson’s Arch, joining it to the western wall of the Temple Mount. Here its width is identical to that of Wilson’s Arch, c. 14.8 m. The eastern vaults of the Great Causeway were founded on vaults dating to the Second Temple period (21–26; Figs. 2, 3, 24), which were first built as part of the original Wilson’s Arch interchange (Building C).
The total length of what is currently known of the Great Causeway (D) stands at c. 100 m. The bridge’s arches built between Ha-Gāy Street and Wilson’s Arch are bounded on the north and south by long walls, extending from west to east, and another wall in the same direction separates between the two rows of arches, D1 and D2. A narrow covered passage (the Secret Passage, below H) to the south separates the Great Causeway from a complex of large public buildings (E, F, G), about which we know little at this time. Today, the Street of the Chain is borne atop the Great Causeway (D) and the Secret Passage (H).
To date, excavations have been conducted in three of the arches in the northern row D1 (in Rooms 504, 604, 804) and in two arches in the southern row D2 (Rooms 502 and 602). Two previous excavations had been conducted in Arch 100 (Hamilton 1933; M. Magen, 2.3.1979. Jerusalem, the Western Wall Tunnel. Israel Antiquities Authority Archive. Excavation Folder A-808/1979 [discussed by A. Kloner and R. Bar-Natan 2008. The Eastern Cardo of Aelia Capitolina. Eretz Israel 28:204, Footnote 12]). The finds from these excavations, which allow us to date the construction of the Great Causeway, are described below.
Stratum 10. The Northern Row of Arches, D1. The piers of Row D1 in Rooms 504, 604, 804 were founded directly on top of Foundation Wall A (Fig. 25, and also 7, 8, above). They seal, in two places, installations dating to the Second Temple period, which were dug into the foundation wall (L5060, L8046) and were blocked with the destruction collapse of 70 CE (L5042) or with fill that accumulated in the years 70–130 CE (L8046). Ovens were installed in Rooms 504 and 804 (L5002, L8016; Fig. 27) after the row of arches was built. A coin dating to 222–235 CE (IAA 135079) was discovered in the foundation of Oven 8016 (Room 8) and another coin dating 40–270 CE (IAA 134948) was found in the foundation of Oven 5002 (Room 5). It has therefore been ascertained that the northern Row D1 was built after 70 CE and before the end of the third century CE.
Stratum 9. The Southern Row of Arches, D2 and Arch 100. The more complete condition of the arches in the southern Row D2, along the seam between them and the northern Row D1, indicates that they are later than Row D1 and were built in Stratum 9, at the earliest. From a stratigraphic perspective, Vaults 502 and 602 of the Southern Row of Arches D2 were founded on top of Foundation Wall A. They sealed and damaged installations of Stratum 11 (L5037, L6159, L6162). Several ruinous installations were found inside Room 502, which contained coins of the second and third centuries CE. These were overlain with a white earthen layer, doubtfully a floor (L5035, L5036, L5038, L5046), which contained sixteen coins (IAA 134958–968, 134977–981); the three latest coins were minted in the years 324–408 CE, and about eleven other coins were struck in the fourth century, prior to the year 363 CE. The white earthen layer abutted the walls of the room and attests to the eaistence Vault 502 in this period. A white plaster floor of the third or fourth centuries CE, which abutted the walls of Vault 602, was discovered too.
Based on these findings, the Southern Row of Arches D2 was built after the year 130 CE and prior to the end of the fourth century CE.
Arch 100 is significantly different than the arches in Rows D1 and D2, located to its east. Its overall length (c. 11.5 m) is equal to the shared length of Rows D1 and D2 together and its width (c. 8 m) is greater than the average width of Rows D1 and D2. At the north and south ends, Arch 100 is integrated and aligned with the arches of the Great Causeway; it is obvious that it was built as part of the Great Causeway for the purpose of carrying the decumanus on top of it. The time of its construction is therefore contemporary with that of Row D2. The piers of Arch 100 were built in accordance with the direction of the eastern cardo, whose remains were exposed between them at an elevation of 727.5 m above sea level; therefore, the angle between the piers of Arch 100 and the axis of the Great Causeway is different from the right angle between the other arches to the axis of the bridge. The top of Foundation Wall A, on which the piers of Arch 100 were founded, was lowered by c. 3.5 m from its uniform elevation because of the eastern cardo level in this spot, and this indicates that Arch 100 was built at this time or slightly later than the eastern cardo; we suggested that it was paved in the first third of the second century CE, during the reign of Hadrian at the very latest (HA-ESI 121; Weksler-Bdolah and Onn 2011).
Construction Date of the Great Causeway. Four components were discerned in the Great Causeway, from east to west: Wilson’s Arch, the northern row of arches—D1, the southern row of arches—D2 and Arch 100. The latest components in the construction of the Great Causeway are Row D2 and Arch 100, which were erected at the same time (Stratum 9). Row D2 postdates 130 CE and antedates the fourth century CE. Arch 100 makes it possible to reduce this chronological range to the first third of the second century CE or slightly thereafter. The adaptation of the cardo and the piers of the Great Causeway in the place where the cardo and the decumanus pass within a distance of c. 8.5 m above each other (elevation of the cardo 727.5 m, elevation of the decumanus c. 736 m above sea level) is, in our opinion, an indication of their sensible planning at the same time. At this time, Aelia Capitolina was designed as a Roman colony and the network of main roads was paved. We suggest that the relatively narrow width of the cardo beneath the Great Causeway (c. 8 m compared to 11 m south of the bridge) is a result of this interchange.
Stratum 9. Building E, Roman Latrine. Remains of the structure were discovered in an excavation that was conducted in Room 31, which is located in a building south of the Great Causeway. A room (32) to the east of Room 31 had been excavated in the past (Bahat and Solomon 2004). The finds indicate that the structure was built in the second or third centuries CE (Stratum 9). Building E included a central rectangular space, whose area was identical to or greater than the shared area of Rooms 30–32 (length c. 20 m, width 8.5 m). The walls of the building stand to a height in excess of 10 m, an indication that the structure was probably built two stories high. The ground floor of this building was used as a Roman latrine and drainage channels were exposed in the foundation level running alongside the structure’s northern, eastern and southern walls. One can assume that the building was initially incorporated in a large complex of buildings that may be related to a bathhouse.
Stratum 8. Construction in the Great Causeway and South of It: Third-Fourth Centuries CE. A closing wall was built south of Row D2 in the late third–fourth centuries CE. The latrine building (E) was enlarged and converted to a building with rooms; and another structure (G) was built west of Building F. This created a narrow alley-like passage between the Great Causeway and the complex of buildings (F, G) to its south, which is today known as the ‘Secret Passage’ (H).
Building F. Interior walls that were built in this phase divided the inside of Building E into three square rooms (above, 30–32). The building was enlarged and Room 33 was added to it on the east. In this phase, Building F was c. 35 m long and at this stage in our excavations, we know it is 8 m wide. Its foundation level included about six square rooms arranged along the northern side of the structure, of which Room 31 was excavated. The latrine from the early phase continued to be used and it attests to the public nature of the building, and perhaps to its being part of a bathhouse (Fig. 28). The foundation trench of the northern wall of Room 33 (W413), which was built in this phase, provides a clue concerning the time when Building F was erected. The foundation trench cut through layers of soil and ash fill that were deposited south of Wilson’s Arch pier in the third century CE, and yielded a coin minted during the reign of Aurelian, in the years 270–275 CE (IAA 135852). Coins from the third century CE (IAA 135845–846) were retrieved from the foundation trench. It therefore seems that the construction of Building F postdated the year 275 CE and it occurred in the last quarter of the third century or in the fourth century CE. This data is also consistent with the artifacts of the third and fourth centuries CE that were discovered below the floor of this phase in Room 31 (L3211).
Building G. At some point, another building (G) was established west of Building E/F; it has not been excavated so far and its dating is uncertain. The northern wall of Building G (W1103) extends 39 m west of the corner of Building F. The upper part is today exposed along the southern side of the Secret Passage. The northwestern corner of Building G is located c. 10 m east of the tunnel on Ha-Gāy Street, along the same axis where it constitutes the border of the eastern stoa of the Roman cardo that has recently been discovered in the Western Wall Plaza excavations (HA-ESI 121). We can assume with a high degree of certainty that this building was constructed east of the Roman cardo and was adapted to it. Wall 1103 is built of regular courses of ashlars that have smoothed surfaces and no drafted margins and which are arranged lengthwise and widthwise in no particular order. Incorporated within the stones of the wall is a stone bearing an engraving of the name of the Tenth Legion—FRET. In Bahat’s opinion, the inscription was integrated in the wall in secondary use (Bahat 1994).
Closing Wall South of Row D2. A ‘closing wall’ was built south of Row D2 at about the same time as Buildings F and G, south of the Great Causeway, or shortly thereafter. Sections of the wall in front of each room were identified by a different name, W100, W200, W300, and so on to W900. The closing wall retreated from the vaults of the Great Causeway east of W900 and turned eastward parallel to the outer wall of Building F. Two sections of drainage channels were discovered alongside it (L11007 along W500 in front of Vault 502 and L1531 in front of Wall 3108).
The Secret Passage (H). A narrow passage, probably not an alley, was created between the Great Causeway (D) and Buildings F and G to its south. In all probability, the narrow passage led from the cardo toward the Temple Mount. The axis of the passage turned from the cardo to the northeast along the Great Causeway and then east along Building F. The original route and destination of this passage cannot be determined, nor if it reached the western wall of the Temple Mount. Today, it is known to reach c. 20 m west of the Temple Mount. The passage was not covered in its earliest phase and at some later point, the vaulted roof was constructed above it. The presumed level of this passage, based on the elevations of the doorways incorporated in Walls 500 and 600 to its north and in Wall 3102 to its south, is 730.0–730.3 m above sea level—c. 2.5 m above the level of its intersection with the eastern cardo.
Stratum 7. The Byzantine period: Fifth-Sixth Centuries CE
Floors and installations that were discovered in the spaces of the Great Causeway point to the activity undertaken inside them during this phase. The earliest remains are industrial pools in Hall 21 (L20031, L20032), which were probably built in the late fourth century CE or slightly thereafter and were used in the fifth and sixth centuries CE. Earthen and plaster floors and a drainage channel, which are likely dated to the sixth century CE, were discovered in Vaults 5, 6 and 8. Other than the installations, walls were built in this phase or slightly later inside the southern wall of Row D2; it is presumed that they were designed to support the arches, e.g., W501 north of W500 and W601 north of W600. The construction of these walls is probably related to the building of the vaulted roof above the Secret Passage, whose northern side was supported on the vaults of the southern bridge. Changes to the plan of Building F occurred during the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine periods; the latrines were demolished and the rooms were paved with a white mosaic.
Strata 7–6. The Byzanto-Umayyad period: Sixth–Eighth Centuries CE
The main buildings in this phase are connected to the Secret Passage. A roof vault (W1150; length c. 50 m) was built above the main part of the Secret Passage. It began c. 10 m east of the tunnel on Ha-Gāy Street. Its northern side was founded on the wall that was built in front of Row D2 (W100, W200, W300 and so on) of Stratum 8, which damaged Row D2 from Stratum 9. The southern side of Vault 1150 was founded on the northern walls of Buildings F and G, also of Stratum 8. Its construction postdated these buildings and occurred in Stratum 7 or 6.
At that time or slightly thereafter, an impressive staircase ascending from west to east across the Secret Passage, was built east of Vault 1150 (L1515; length c. 4 m, width 2.9 m, overall height 3.5 m; Fig. 29). The center part of the staircase was damaged some time later; six of the stairs were preserved in its western part and another seven stairs survived in its eastern part. A square upper landing (L1506, 1.95 × 2.50 m) was discovered at its eastern end; where the ascent turned north toward the Street of the Chain. The southern side of another step is visible north of Landing 1506. The rise of the steps is c. 0.2 m and the average tread depth is 0.75–0.80 m. The steps were built of stone slabs, including numerous reused architectural elements.
The eastern part of Secret Passage H, east of Staircase 1515, is covered with a ‘half vault’ (W417) that rests on the northern wall of Building F in the south and on Wilson’s Arch in the north.
The construction of Vault 1150, Half Vault 417 and Staircase 1515 between them, had probably occurred within a short time of each other and they were probably part of the overall network of roads and the passageway between them. We suggested ascribing their construction to Stratum 6, most likely to the Umayyad period, between the seventh and eighth centuries CE.
Stratum 5. The Early Islamic period: Eighth–Tenth Centuries CE
A thick ash layer was discovered in two of the excavated rooms (21 in the Great Causeway and 31 in Building B). The layer contained numerous fragments of pottery vessels that likely originated from the debris of two pottery kilns (L2000 in Room 21 and L3203 in Room 31). The location of these rooms in the bottom stories of the Great Causeway and Building F indicate that the spaces in this level were converted for use as refuse pits. Sections of floors (L5011, L6132) and meager installations (L6146) were discovered in Rooms 5, 6 and 8 of the main level of the bridge.
Strata 4–3. The Crusader and Ayyubid period: Twelfth–Thirteenth Centuries CE
Pillar 3202 in Room 31, found leaning at an angle of c. 75°, was surrounded by the collapse of building stones. It seems that the pillar belonged to a building that had previously been studied by D. Bahat and was identified as Crusader (Bahat and Solomon 2002:177–181). The falling of the pillar is associated with an event that probably caused the stone collapse around it, perhaps an earthquake or deliberate destruction. The collapse contained finds dating to the Ayyubid period, which enables to attribute the destruction to this period.
Strata 3–2. The Mamluk period, Thirteenth–Fifteenth Centuries and the Ottoman Period, Fifteenth–Nineteenth Centuries
The al-Tankiziyya madrassa was constructed in 1329 by Emir al-Tankiz, governor of Israel and Syria, above the Crusader building in the location of Building F (Burgoyne M.H. 1987. 'Al-Tankiziyya' in: Mamluk Jerusalem, an Architectural Study. London. Pp. 223–240). The place is known as the ‘Mahkame’ and was used in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods as a courthouse. Today the building serves as a base for the Israel Border Police.
Drainage channels (L6101) and a cesspit (L6100) that were installed in the cavity of the northern bridge were discovered in Room 6 of the Great Causeway. These and other installations (L6130, L6147) are connected to the urban life that was conducted on a higher level, on both sides of the decumanus (The Street of the Chain). Layers of soil fill that accumulated during the period blocked the cavities of the Great Causeway.
Stratum 1. The Modern Period
Several of the cavities in the Great Causeway were cleaned by workers of the Ministry of Religious Affairs after 1967. At the same time, the upper part of the vault of Ha-Gāy Street tunnel was cleaned and a small-scale salvage excavation was conducted there in 1979 by M. Magen (see A. Kloner and R. Bar-Natan 2008). In addition, the Secret Passage (H) was cleaned and obstructions were removed from it. Concrete supports were poured in several places to retain the soil fill. Unstable vaults and walls were reinforced and lighting was installed. The work was done as part of preparing the site for public visits.