During February–March 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Beit Safafa neighborhood of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-4388*; map ref. NIG 21930/61283; OIG 16930/11283), after the exposure of antiquities during an archaeological inspection of earthmoving work. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Gihon Company, was directed by I. Zilberbod, with the assistance of T. Kornfeld (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography) and E. Belashov (drafting).
A probably ancient water cistern was found c. 150 m south the ritual bath (miqwe
) from the Second Temple period that was excavated in 2004 (HA-ESI 119
). During the earthmoving work, before the cistern’s exposure, a probe trench had cut its eastern wall. The probe was cleaned in the excavation and the interior of the cistern was excavated.
The cistern, cut within a natural bedrock-hewn cave, was elliptical and had a bell-shaped cross-section (length 5.8 m, width 2.5–4.0 m, depth 2 m). Its floor and walls were coated with a layer of hydraulic plaster (thickness 0.14 m).
A round aperture (L21; diam. 1.1 m, height 1.5 m) was hewn in the ceiling, at the northwestern end of the cistern. It was located beneath soil fill and blocked with large stones. The plaster floor (L24) in the cistern was overlaid with a gray soil fill and medium and large stone collapse. The cistern, devoid of any datable artifacts, was in use over a very long time.