Hewn Bedrock Surface. The bedrock leveled in preparation for construction of the Western Wall and the retaining walls was exposed throughout the excavation area (Fig. 3). Rock-cuttings made with a multi-tooth chisel were apparent on the surface of the bedrock; this is the same type of tool that was used to make the drafted margins on the stones of the Western Wall. The height of the bedrock was uniform throughout the area of the two northern cells (C1 and C2). Chisel marks and rock-cuttings that straightened the bedrock were noted near the stones of the bottom course of the Western Wall, which were laid on bedrock. Small, flat stones that served to level the bedrock were also discerned. A shallow rock-cutting, possibly an installation (L14026; width c. 2 m, depth 8 cm), was discovered within Cell C2. At the bottom of the rock-cutting was a floor of compacted chalk that was set on a layer of light colored soil (L14027). This quarrying was severed in the east by a rock-cutting that ran along the bottom course of the Western Wall. Also discerned on the bedrock were severance channels of quarried stones. Similar quarries were discovered in several places along the Western Wall. It is unclear whether the quarry was used when the Western Wall was being built or was canceled at that time. Whatever the case, it is clear that the array of retaining walls negated the use of the quarry. A straight quarrying line, which ran parallel to the Western Wall, was noted on the bedrock surface in Cells C1 and C2. Nearby rock-cuttings were made with a multi-toothed chisel. Four small niches (length 0.1 m, width 7 cm, average depth 8 cm) were also hewn in the bedrock at a set distance from the wall; it seems that they were used for pushing the wall’s foundation stones into place.
The Western Wall Foundations. Four foundation courses (R–U according to Warren; Fig. 2: Section 1–1) were exposed in a section of the Western Wall that included the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount (W101; length c. 10 m, max. height 3.5 m). The construction was done in part using long stones, the likes of which are visible in sections of the wall above the street level. The two middle courses (S and T) were of uniform in height along their entire length (height of Course S—1.15 m; height of Course T—0.99 m). The height of Course R could not be ascertained because only its bottom part was exposed. The height of Course U, set on the bedrock, varied according to the bedrock elevation and served to level the upper courses. The southern part of the southernmost stone in Course U, at the corner of the Temple Mount, was placed on lower courses that were part of the Temple Mount’s southern wall. The surfaces of the stones were only partially dressed, except for the long stones in the corner which were fully dressed. It seems that these foundation courses were situated below the street level and therefore their outer face was only partially dressed. Plaster was used to fill in cracks between the stones and in places where the drafted margins were damaged. The plaster fill was smoothed, and in several places a line incised in the plaster denoted the separation between the stones. It is unclear why these plaster repairs were undertaken if the stones in the foundation courses were underground.
Retaining Wall System. A series of retaining walls was discovered along the southern and western walls of the Temple Mount. The excavation by the Western Wall reached bedrock at a depth of 2.5 m below the street level. A long wall (W102) was built 2 m from the Western Wall and parallel to it. The wall extended north of the excavation, into areas that were previously excavated. Directly above the wall were the eastern curbstones of the street at the foot of the Temple Mount; the wall and the curbstones were separated by a thin layer of soil (Reich and Shukron 2012:221). Short walls (W14001, W14016, W14030, W14045; Fig. 4) built between W102 and the Western Wall formed cells (2.0 × 2.4 m in average) that ran the length of the Western Wall. Wall 14045, the southernmost wall (width 1.3 m), was wider than the other three walls (average width 0.8 m). These walls, now visible above the street level, might have delimited small shops that were built along the length of the Second Temple period street (Reich and Billig 1999). The walls enclosing the cells were built of fieldstones, ashlars and architectural elements in secondary use that might have been taken from earlier buildings and installations that stood there and whose remains were exposed north of the excavation area. The level of the bedrock in the two northern cells (C1 and C2) was c. 0.8 m higher than that in the southern cell (C3). Wall 14030 was built next to the bedrock step between the two high cells and the low cell. Evidence of construction phases was discerned on all of the walls. The lower courses of W14001, W14016 and W14030 abutted W102 at the same level throughout the excavation area, whereas the upper courses of these walls bonded with W102. Another wall (W14047) was built along the wide wall (W14045) that was adjacent to the corner of the Temple Mount and delimited the retaining walls on the south; its purpose is unclear. While exposing W14045, it was discerned that the wall’s upper courses adjacent to the Western Wall had been deliberately dismantled. A fill consisting of soil and small stones unlike the fill in the cells (below) was found instead of the building stones where the base of Warren’s Shaft 22 was located, in the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount (L14046). Thus, it seems that Warren dismantled the upper courses of W14045 while digging the shaft.
An intentional fill found in the cells was apparently deposited when the street was constructed (Fig. 2: Section 2–2). The lower part of the fill contained stone chips that might have originated from the final dressing of the Western Wall stones done in order to fit them together during construction. The upper part of the fill consisted of earth mixed with numerous potsherds and whole vessels, tabun fragments, coins, pieces of glass vessels, charcoal, whole bones and worked bones. The placement of the fill was apparently planned and deliberate: a horizontal fill was deposited in the bottom part, while the fill in the upper part was spilled from above, resulting in soil layers that were piled up, sloping from west to east. The soil fill in Cell C3, which was built at a lower level, was discovered above the fill consisting of fieldstones and architectural items. It is unclear whether there was a similar fill in the upper part of the two northern cells. An initial analysis of the ceramic artifacts recovered from the fill in the cells reveals that they consist mainly of cooking pots, storage jars and flasks, thus suggesting that the retaining walls should be dated to the first century CE. A similar date was ascribed to the retaining walls by previous excavators as well (Mazar 1971). The pottery assemblages from Mazar’s excavations resemble those from the current excavation (Mazar 1971: Fig. 8).
Drainage Channel. A low, curving wall (W14044; height c. 0.85 m; Fig. 5) was revealed in the southern part of the excavation. The wall passed beneath W102, parallel to the Western Wall, turned south and ran below Walls 14045 and 14047. Farther along, it ran adjacent to the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The wall, built along the main drainage channel that was exposed in the past (Shukron and Reich 2011), covered and thus protected a stone-built vault that covered the channel. The drainage channel in this section was hewn into bedrock; however, its continuation to the east was built alongside the bottom courses of the southern wall of the Temple Mount.