During January–February 2005 a salvage excavation was conducted on Nisan Beck Street in the Mahanayim neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-4346*; map ref. NIG 22082–5/63372–80; OIG 17082–5/13372–80), in the wake of discovering quarrying marks. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquties Authority, was directed by Y. Mizrachi, with the assistance of T. Kornfeld (surveying and drafting), M. Salzberger (photography), O. Shor (pottery restoration) and C. Hersch (pottery drawing).
A quarry and a corridor, which probably led to a burial cave, were exposed in the area (7.0 × 14.5 m; Fig. 1). North of the excavation area was a bedrock surface with a hewn step in front of it (length c. 6.5 m, depth c. 2.5 m). Rock-hewn steps and evidence of extracted stones were found mostly in the southern and central parts of the area (Figs. 2, 3). Bedrock in these parts was overlaid with a layer of white sediment and scattered stones; the lack of ceramic finds evinces the quarrying and stone cutting that were carried out at the spot. The marks of stone chiseling and the severance channels indicate that the extracted stones possibly measured 0.35 × 0.35 × 0.65 m. A shelf (2.5 × 4.0 m; Fig. 4) in the northern part of the excavation, along its northern and western walls, was exposed. A corridor that led westward became apparent in the western wall. Parallel to the shelf was a channel (L105), wider than the standard severance channel (0.2 m), which was hewn slightly crooked. This channel was probably used for drainage and its beginning could be located west of the excavation area.
Ceramic finds, mostly dating to the Second Temple period, were discovered in the northern part of the area. However, they are not characteristic of quarries: a krater (Fig. 5:1), a cooking pot from the first century BCE–first century CE (Fig. 5:2), jars (Fig. 5:3–7), a jug (Fig. 5:8) and a juglet from the second century BCE–first century CE (Fig. 5:9). A small number of potsherds were dated to other periods, including bowls from the Late Roman–Byzantine periods until the Early Islamic period (Fig. 5:10–12). The hewn northern wall, the shelf along the western side at the foot of the opening and the ceramic finds from the Second Temple period reinforce the supposition that these were parts of a burial cave whose entrance was located to the west of the excavated area. It is possible that the cave was hewn in the remains of the quarry.