In February 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted within the Kaluti family’s grocery store on Omar Ibn al-Khattab Square in the old city of Jerusalem (Permit No. A-6710; map ref. 221708/631557), in the wake of damage to antiquities caused during the course of work that was not coordinated in advance with the Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Kaluti family, was directed by E.D. Kagan (field photography), with the assistance of M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), E. Belashov (plans) and I. Berin (GPS).
The basement is rectangular (c. 2.5 × 3.0 m, height c. 2 m; Fig. 1). Its eastern wall (W104) was destroyed and was connected to a rectangular shaft (L109) that descended from the floor at the level of the shop to a cistern below the floor of the basement. A second opening in the shaft opened eastward, onto the adjacent, eastern, shop. Semi-circular recesses probably used for the hinges that secured a cover were installed in the shaft’s northern and southern walls. During the unauthorized work preceding the excavation, the floor of the basement, the floor of the shaft and the round opening of the cistern were covered with a new pavement. In order to carry out the excavation, the pavement was removed and a half square (2.0 × 2.5 m) was opened in the basement. Remains of a flagstone floor (F108) were exposed beneath the pavement; under the floor was a layer of soil and stone fill (L110a). The eastern face of an ancient wall (W105; Fig. 2) was revealed below the foundation of the basement’s western wall (W102). Wall 105, oriented along a north–south axis, was built of carefully hewn stones and coated with white plaster. The wall terminated before the northern end of the basement. It is unclear if this was an opening or if the wall itself was used as a rectangular pillar. A hard plaster floor (F110b) abutted W105 on the east and north. A vault built of large stones was uncovered in the eastern part of the room. It was aligned in a north–south direction above a cavity, presumably the cistern which Shaft 109 led into. Fill consisting of small and medium stones was placed on top of the vault. Floor 110b covered the western part of the fill. In the northwestern corner of the room, Floor 110b was cut by the foundation trench (L111) of a corner formed by W102 in the west and W101 in the north. The corner supported a corner pillar that upheld the shop located above it. A small probe (L112; Fig. 3) was excavated below Floor 110b and next to the eastern side of W105, and it was ascertained that W105 consisted of two courses and below the foundation was a gray plaster floor containing charcoal (F113; Fig. 4). Wall 105 was “floating” above Floor 113 whose eastern end was severed by the vault. Hence Floor 113 predates the other remains.
The ceramic finds were quite meager. Numerous fragments of roof tiles were discovered in the layer of fill (L110a) and above Floor 110b, some were found in clusters. The tiles are a type typically used at sites of the Tenth Legion in Jerusalem. Several body fragments of pottery vessels and a cooking pot rim from the Herodian period (not drawn) were also found.
Two phases of scant architectural remains that probably date to the Roman period were exposed. Due to the limited area of the excavation it was not possible to attribute the remains to any built complex.