A rectangular strip (length 19 m, width 7 m; Figs. 1, 2) was excavated. A quarry (length c. 12 m) was discovered in the northern and center parts of the strip, where the bedrock is hard, and a rectangular rock-hewn installation was revealed alongside it.
Quarry (Fig. 3). Shallow severance channels (max. depth below the surface 0.5 m, width 0.15–0.20 m) were preserved. The negatives of the quarried stones indicate that they did not have a uniform size; most were relatively large (e.g., 1.1×2.5 m, 1.2×1.4 m) and probably meant for public construction.
Rectangular Installation (tomb? Fig. 4). A rectangular, rock-hewn pit (L117; 1.2×2.2 m, depth 1.55 m) was exposed next to the southwestern corner of the quarry. Running the entire length of the pit, at the bottom of its western side, was a hewn niche (width 0.5 m, height 0.55 m), set c. 0.35 m into the side and 0.1 m into the floor. The installation is very similar to the type of tomb ascribed to the Essenes, which is found at Qumran and at other sites in the Dead Sea region. The width of the installation, however, is almost twice than that of the ‘Essene Tomb’. Fifty tombs of this type were found in cemeteries dating to the Second Temple period near Beit Safafa (A. Kloner and B. Zissu, 2003. The Necropolis of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, Jerusalem, pp. 217–219), as well as in northern sites, such as Nahal Hadera (HA-ESI 119). The placing of the corpse in these tombs was in a deeply set niche, which was covered diagonally with stone slabs that separated it from the soil fill above. No covering slabs or bones were found in the pit, suggesting that this tomb was probably hewn in the latter part of the Second Temple period and have never been used.
Fragments of pottery vessels from the Early Roman period were found in the soil fill and the quarrying debris inside the installation and on the layer of bedrock at the bottom of the quarry. These included kraters and cooking pots (Fig. 5:6–9), jars (Fig. 5:10–13), a jug (Fig. 5:14) and a juglet (Fig. 5:15). The layers of fill closest to the surface above the older fill contained fragments of an amphora and jugs from the Late Hellenistic period (second century BCE; Fig. 5:1–5) and bowls and a kraters from the Byzantine period (Fig. 5:16–20), which apparently originated from buildings or installations outside the excavation area and therefore, were not found in a reasonable chronological order.
The exposed quarry is part of an area of quarries that extends across the hard limestone bedrock outcrops from the Turon era, in the fallow areas north of the city walls from the time of the Second Temple period. These quarries supplied building stones for the construction of the Third Wall and buildings in the city’s northern neighborhoods in this period, as well as in the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. The rectangular installation whose characteristics resemble the ‘Essene Tomb’ is probably a mortuary from the Second Temple period that was hewn in the bedrock outcrops where clusters of tombs and isolated tombs, ranging in date from the Iron Age until the latter part of antiquity, were found.