The Pool (Figs. 2–5). Only a small part of the pool (5.4 × 8.4 m, depth 1.7 m) in a tenuous state of preservation was unearthed. The remains include a sections of a mosaic floor (L109, L112, L113, L214; Fig. 4) and part of the southern wall. Since the boundaries of the pool lay beyond the limits of the excavations, its dimensions could not be determined. Although the southern rim of the pool was only partly preserved, the slightly raised underlying bedrock allows us to reconstruct the rim (E; 0.4 m wide, c. 0.25 m high). Surrounding the pool was a gray plaster floor (A; thickness 5 cm).
The pool was constructed on the bedrock surface, above a large reservoir hewn in bedrock. The pool’s mosaic floor comprised coarse, white tesserae (2.5 × 2.5 cm, 20–25 tesserae per sq decimeter), laid on a fill that covered the bedrock. In most places the fill was 0.3–0.4 m deep, but occasionally it was up to 0.8 m deep. On the eastern end of the southern wall, 0.4 m above the mosaic floor, remained part of the lowest step (D) of what was apparently a set of stairs. The southern wall was stepped, forming a bench (height 0.85, breadth 0.85 m) that was divided into three seats (width 2.4 m each; Fig. 6) with built pillars, of which only the stumps survived. A section of a vertical clay pipe was incorporated into the southern wall, in the backrest of the central seat (K). The upper end of the pipe K, situated at the top of the backrest, remained open (Fig. 2). It evidently served as a device for maintaining a constant, even level of the water by receiving the excess water displaced by the bathers. The bottom end of the ceramic pipe drained water into a hewn channel that flowed into the water subterranean reservoir. Irregular stone slabs covered the channel for its entire length beneath the seat and under the pool’s mosaic pavement.
The Reservoir (Fig. 4). About 1 m beneath the pool was a large, trapezoidal reservoir (13.6 × 14.2 m, depth c. 7 m, c. 1,000 cubic m). Its roof was supported by a hewn pillar (I; average diam. 2.2 m). Next to the pillar, to its west, ran a massive, double-faced wall (J; width 1 m) constructed of well-dressed chalk stones, which supported the western opening (F). The walls of the reservoir and its ceiling were plastered with a single coat of dark gray plaster that varied in thickness (up to 3 cm) in order to smooth the hewn surface.
There were three openings in the roof of the reservoir (F, G, H). The western opening was rectangular in shape (F; 0.75 × 0.85 m) and sealed by uniform stone slabs and the floor of the pool (L109, L112, L214). In the southwest was the end of the channel that continued from Pipe K, emptying into the reservoir at Opening F. An additional channel (width 0.15 m, depth 0.2 m) came from the northwest, beneath the floor of the pool, and emptied into this opening as well. The central opening (G; diam. 1 m) was apparently hewn later than the western opening. The eastern opening was constructed like a rectangular chimney (H; 1.00 × 1.35 m, height 4 m) in its lower part. Two plastered channels were constructed within its wall: one was at the level of the pool’s floor (H2), and the other—c. 1.1 m above it (H1).
The remains of the pool unearthed in the excavation date, according to the pottery and coins, from the period of Aelia Capitolina (the second half of the second century CE). It was probably a swimming pool that belonged to an extensive bathhouse. It was destroyed in the early part of the Byzantine period, possibly by the earthquake that devastated Jerusalem in 363 CE. The area was rebuilt, apparently in the fifth century CE. The area was abandoned from the Early Islamic period until the Mamluk period. The stability of the Ottoman structure enabled the construction of two additional stories above it when the Jewish Quarter was renovated in the early 1970s.