In February 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted in Qiryat Ha-Yovel neighborhood in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6707; map ref. 215910–20/629791–806; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Dona Engineering and Construction Company, Ltd., was directed by L. Oz, with the assistance of N. Nahama (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), A. Peretz (field photography), N. Zak (drafting), C. Amit (studio photography), B. Dolinka (pottery reading), O. Sion and A. Sasson (identification of quarrying tools), A. Shatil (bone tools), Z. ‘Adawi (translation of Arabic inscription), C. Hersch (drawing of finds), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), R. Kool (numismatics) and R. Vinitsky (organic laboratory).
The cave (L200; 4.8 × 5.1 m, height c. 3 m; Figs. 2, 3) was somewhat rectangular, and its ceiling was curved. Its upper part was evidently natural and the rest was hewn (Figs. 4, 5); the cave floor was not level. Several chisel marks (Fig. 6) could be discerned; besides one of them a modern Israeli copper coin was discovered. The cave was filled up to its ceiling with fieldstones and soil. The excavation of the fill yielded several finds: a few pottery sherds from the Ottoman period, a broken tool made of tin and a bone comb (Fig. 7:1), comprising several parts, two of which, connected by metal pins, survived. The comb has a row of thick teeth and a row of dense narrow teeth. Similar combs were discovered at a number of sites in Israel that date from the Byzantine period onward (Gorzalczany 2004:44–45; Talis 2012: Fig. 12:11), particularly from the Ottoman period (Torgë 2003:58–60, Fig. 86:21). The comb was stamped with a printed Arabic inscription in black ink that was not completely preserved; only the name “‘Abed Al…” was legible—possibly part of the name of the manufacturer, of the merchant who sold it or the owner of the comb. Under the fill, on the cave floor, was a concentration of iron quarrying tools, among them a splitting wedge, a fulcrum-like plate found next to it, and two chisels (Fig. 7:2–5). These types of tools were used from the Second Temple period until the modern era. The short chisel was used for cutting rock, and the long chisel might have been used for marking the quarrying lines. The wedge was used to split and detach the stone in the final stage of quarrying. It was customary to place the wedge between two metal plates or fulcrums in order to increase the force of the splitting action and reduce the amount of wear on the wedge. Similar tools were discovered in quarries excavated in Shmuel Ha-Navi and Ramat Shelomo neighborhoods in Jerusalem (Sasson, Sion and Barda 2012:279, Figs. 12, 15).
The uniform consistency of the fill and the finds discovered in it suggest that they were intentionally deposited in the cave during the twentieth century CE, when it was used as some type of pit and was eventually blocked. Although quarrying tools were found on the floor of the cave, in the absence of datable finds there is no way of determining when it was hewn.
Barda L. 2011. Jerusalem, Qiryat Ha-Yovel, Survey. HA-ESI 123.
Be’eri R. 2012. Jerusalem, Qiryat Ha-Yovel. HA-ESI 124.
Gorzalczany A. 2004. A Site from the End of the Byzantine and the Early Islamic Periods at Sarafand el-Kharab, Nes Ziyyona. ‘Atiqot 46:37–47 (Hebrew; English summary, p. 130*–131*).
Sasson A, Sion O and Barda L. 2012. Quarrying and Quarries in North Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period. In E. Baruch, A. Levy-Reifer and A. Faust, eds. New Studies on Jerusalem 17. Ramat Gan. Pp. 265–286 (Hebrew).
Talis S. 2012. Be’er Sheva‘, Bet Eshel Street. HA-ESI 124.
Torgë H. 2003. Lod. HA 115:44*.