The excavation was conducted on the ground floor of a building, inside the third shop from the east. The shop was constructed in the style typical to the Old City in the latter part of the Ottoman period. The interior of the shop is a rectangular hall (c. 4 × 10 m; Fig. 2) with a roof consisting of two cross vaults supported on pillars built in the middle of the hall’s western and eastern walls and in its corners. The entrance to the hall is from the south, from Aqabat el-Khanqa Street. The southern and eastern walls of the hall (W203, W204) are also the outer walls of the entire structure and therefore their foundations are deep and wide. The foundation (W205) of a pillar in the middle of the eastern wall was set even deeper. The western and northern walls (W201, W202) have shallow foundations, except for the pillar (W206) in the middle of the western wall. The walls were constructed of hewn, medium-sized stones. Several dressed ashlars with diagonal chisel marks were incorporated in secondary use in the construction of the pillar and its foundation in the eastern wall. The floor in the hall was built of flagstones (F101), characteristic of the Ottoman period.
A massive wall foundation (W207) constructed of large fieldstones (c. 0.5 × 0.7 × 0.8 m) with small stones placed in between (Figs. 3, 4) was discovered in the hall’s northwestern corner. A layer of lime and small stones still adhered to several of the stones to a height of three courses. The remains of the upper course were located below the foundation of W201. Some of the stones of W207 exhibited both fresh and ancient break marks. Due to the poor state of preservation and the limited excavation area it was difficult to identify the course of the wall that stood on the foundations. The foundation of W207 in the northwest (width 2.3 m) raises two possibilities: either the wall continued east or it was the foundation of a wide wall running in a north–south direction which abutted another wall aligned in an east–west direction. A trial section (L113) excavated in order to trace the eastern continuation of W207 revealed the top of a vault built of small and medium stones belonging to a small cistern. A shaft constructed in the building’s northern wall descended to the opening of the cistern. A tamped plaster floor (F102) that was mostly destroyed as a result of development work carried out in the southern part of the hall abutted the southern side of W207. A layer of gravel fill and stones mixed with plaster was deposited above Floor 102, on which Floor 101 was built (Fig. 5). Floor 102, which may have originally extended across the entire hall, was also discerned in the section below W201. A probe (L104) excavated beneath the Floor 102 established that the northern part of the floor was founded on soil fill (L103) and its southern part was on gravel mixed with numerous pottery sherds (L107; Fig. 6) which was identified only in the southwestern corner of the hall. A deep layer containing deposits of gravel, soil and numerous sherds (L108; Fig. 7) was noted below Fills 103 and 107. The upper deposits were almost horizontal, but they became more steeply inclined toward the bottom. On the basis of the angle of the deposits, they were spilled from southwest to the northeast. Two disturbances were observed in this layer: pits that had been dug for the foundations of Pillars 205 and 206 (L106, L111); and black soil fill and stones (L110) in the northeastern corner that are related to the construction of Pit 113, situated c. 0.5 m to the north. Layer 108 was excavated to a depth of c. 1.5 m, but the gravel and soil deposits continued to a greater depth and were identified in trial sections excavated adjacent to the southern side of W207. The upper deposits abutted the southern face of the wall (L112) and the lower deposits continued beneath the wall foundation (L114). Layer 108 probably served as fill because a building, part of which was W207, was constructed on top of it.
Pottery sherds dating to the Early Roman period were found in Foundation 103, including a bowl fragment (Fig. 8:1) and sherds of two bag-shaped jars that have a thickened rim (Fig. 8: 2, 3), which are characteristic of the early first century CE. The deposits of Layer 108 and those beneath W207 (L114) also yielded sherds from the Early Roman period (late first century BCE – first century CE), such as a bowl with a ledge rim (Fig. 9:1), a bowl with an inverted rim (Fig. 9:2), a bowl with a folded-out rim (Fig. 9:3), a base of an imported Terra Sigillata bowl (Fig. 9:4), a bowl with a rouletted decoration and an everted rim (Fig. 9:5), casseroles that have a carinated shoulder and either a cut (Fig. 9:6) or straight (Fig. 9:7) rim, and spherical cooking pots with a straight neck (Fig. 9:8). A variety of storage vessels was also found, including bag-shaped jars with a ridge at the base of their neck and a round rim (Fig. 10:1–5) or a rim that is folded out (Fig. 10:6, 7). In addition, a fragment of a kalil-type vessel (Fig. 10:8). Several pottery sherds dating to the Iron Age II, among them a fragment of a horse figurine (not drawn), were discovered in the deposits of Layers 108 and 114.
Six coins, the latest of which dates to the reign of Archelaus(4 BCE – 6 CE; IAA 143535), were discovered in the fill and the deposits beneath the floor. The others include two coins of Alexander Jannaeus (IAA 143532, 143536), a coin of either Herod or his son Archelaus (IAA 143534) and an autonomous coin, probably from Tyre (IAA 143533). An autonomous silver tetradrachm of the city of Ashkelon (64/3 BCE; IAA 143530; Fig. 11) is particularly noteworthy. This coin is the first of its kind to be found in an archaeological excavation outside of Ashkelon and is unusual in that the hoards that contained such coins were discovered in the region of Gaza. Three other known coins were minted with the same pair of dies (O32–R55; see Gitler and Master 2010). A fals of the Mamluk king Barquq (1390–1399 CE, Cairo mint; IAA 143531) was found above the top of W207.
A water channel (L115; width 0.4 m, depth 0.6 m; Fig. 12) running in an east–west direction was found in the southwestern corner of the hall. In the section beneath W101 it is apparent the channel was dug into Fill 107 and that its foundation trench severed Floor 102. The walls of the channel were built of medium-sized stones treated with white hydraulic plaster mixed with stone inclusions and numerous potsherds. The channel was covered with flat stone slabs and was discovered blocked by construction. It seems that the foundation of W204 breached the covering of the channel. A probe was excavated beneath the floor of the channel (L116) which did not produce any finds that contribute to dating the conduit.
Remains of a building including a wall foundation and a floor were exposed. The structure was founded on a thick layer of fill that was apparently set there deliberately for the purpose of building on it. The finds indicate that the construction of the building should be dated to the Early Roman period (late first century BCE – early first century CE). A water channel was constructed in a later phase. The location of the Early Roman period building on Aqabat el-Khanqa Street, north of the Holy Sepulcher, raises questions regarding the reconstruction of the city’s plan in that period. Interestingly, the habitation level from the Roman period is almost identical to that of today, and no remains were found from the Byzantine and medieval periods.