Area A (Fig. 2)
A small quarry (L100; map ref. 223420/632641; Figs. 3, 4), which was delimited by vertical walls on its northern, eastern and western sides, was discovered in an outcrop of hard nari. Severance channels of several large rectangular stones were apparent in the quarry. A bell-shaped cistern (L103; map ref. 223406/632582; depth 7.2 m; Fig. 5) hewn in chalk bedrock and treated with light pink plaster mixed with grog was exposed 50 m south of the quarry. The opening of the cistern was elliptical (diam. 1 m) and became wider toward the bottom. A peripheral wall built of two rows of stones (W109; diam. 2.1 m, width 0.55 m) was constructed around the neck of the cistern. The lower part of the cistern was not excavated due to safety concerns. A square settling pool (L106; 0.8 × 0.8 m, depth 0.7 m) for filtering water was constructed next to the southwestern part of the cistern; only part of the pool was preserved. The pool was bounded by a wall built of two rows of stones (W110); a layer of light pink plaster mixed with grog and an outer layer of gray plaster were applied to the inside of the pool. A rectangular channel (0.25 × 0.29 m) connected to the neck of the cistern was installed in the pool’s northern wall. A concrete frame was cast above the cistern opening in the modern era. An iron lid was installed in the frame and a concrete floor (L112) was poured around the cistern. Fragments of two hard limestone columns were discovered near the cistern. These were put to secondary use in a building from the Ottoman period that stood nearby and was demolished in recent years, when the neighborhood was constructed. The color and composition of the plaster exposed in the cistern resembled that of the plaster in installations from the Byzantine period, and it therefore seems that the cistern was quarried at that time. According to local residents, the cistern was used until recently. Northeast of the cistern is a similar cistern that is used today as a ritual bath (miqveh) by the residents of the Bet Orot Yeshiva.
Area B (Fig. 6)
Stratum 4. A rock-hewn burial complex (Figs. 7, 8) was discovered. The excavation was suspended at the behest of the Ministry of Religious Affairs; hence the complex was not completely exposed. The burial complex was hewn in soft chalk bedrock, and therefore the rock-cutting was irregular and imprecise. Three rectangular burial chambers (1–3), hewn at different levels, were exposed in the complex. Since only bones and pottery sherds were found in the rooms, it appears that the tomb was plundered in the past. Only the western parts of Rooms 1 and 2 were excavated because their eastern parts were situated in the church compound.
Rooms 1 and 3 (L211, L222; Fig. 9) form a single enclosure (c. 2.5 × 6.0 m) hewn along an east–west axis and divided in two by a partly dressed bedrock partition. Two elongated burial loculi (L221, L224; 0.5 × 2.0 m, average height 0.5 m) were hewn in the southern side of the rooms and another loculus (L223; 0.6 × 2.2 m, height 0.3 m) was hewn in the northwestern corner of the Room 3. In the southern bedrock wall of Room 1 was a narrow opening (width 0.5 m) that led to Room 2 (L205; Figs. 10, 11). Room 2 was hewn along a north–south axis at a lower level than the other two rooms. It was probably hewn later than Rooms 1 and 3, and it was probably then that an opening connecting the two rooms was breached. A standing pit (length 2.2 m, exposed width 1.5 m) was cut in the middle of the room, and two small niches used as bone repositories (L218, L225; 0.5 × 0.5–0.6 m, height c. 0.5 m) were hewn in its southwestern corner. A small amount of pottery sherds from the Early Roman period were discovered in the accumulated soil in Rooms 1 and 3 and in Loculus 221. These included serving bowls (Figs. 12:1, 2), a cooking pot (Fig. 12:3), a cooking jug (Fig. 12:4), a jar (Fig. 12:5) and a lamp (Fig. 12:7). Similar vessels, which are ascribed to the Early Roman period, were produced in the pottery workshop that was uncovered in Strata VI and VII at Binyane Ha-Umma (Levi, forthcoming); the cooking vessels resemble the vessels from Strata III–V, dating from the late first century CE to the first half of the second century CE (Rosenthal-Heginbottom, forthcoming).
Stratum 3. Two stone walls (W212, W219; Fig. 13; see also Figs. 10, 11) were exposed inside the standing pit of Room 2. They were constructed on the bedrock floor of the room, near the northern and western walls. A tamped-chalk floor (L216) founded on a fill of quarrying debris (L217) abutted the walls. The walls and fill blocked the loculi in the room. Several pottery sherds dating to the Early Roman period and a fragment of an amphora (Fig. 12:6) that postdates the year 70 CE were exposed in the foundation of W212 (L215) and in the fill of quarrying debris. The amphora was most likely produced in the workshop that was exposed in Strata III–V at Binyane Ha-Umma (Rosenthal-Heginbottom, forthcoming).
Stratum 2. A pool (Figs. 14–16, see also Figs. 10, 11) was constructed in the area of the standing pit in Room 2, above the building remains of Stratum 3. It was delimited by W212, which continued to be in use from Stratum 3, and two other walls (W207, W209). The walls were treated with dark gray plaster. The pool’s floor was made of gray plaster (L206) and was founded on quarrying debris (L207) and a fill of fieldstones (L214). Tableware dating to the Mamluk period (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries CE) was discovered in Fills 207 and 214 and in the soil accumulated above the pool. It included a green-brown glazed serving bowl (Fig. 17:1), other serving bowls (Fig. 17:2–4), a strainer jug (Fig. 17:5) and a green-brown glazed jug (Fig. 17:6).
Stratum 1. A wide wall foundation (W210; Figs. 18, 19) that continued into Room 1 was exposed above the Stratum 2 pool remains. A relieving arch (W208) was integrated in the construction of the wall. The wall was founded on fill consisting of quarrying debris and refuse (L226, L227), with pottery sherds ranging in date from the Second Temple period to the present. In addition, a cannonball (Glick, below) was found in the fill. The wall probably delimited the western courtyard of the Church of Viri Galilaei, which was built in 1894.
A small quarry in nari bedrock (L201; Figs. 20, 21) was exposed southeast of the burial complex, below the western wall of the church compound. Detachment marks of several severed rectangular stones were apparent in the quarry.
Alexander Glick
An unmarked, solid, round shot cannonball (diam. 75 mm; Fig. 22) was discovered. The ball belongs to a 3 pound light artillery piece that was used in the country by field units in fortresses as well as in mountain and naval units during the Ottoman period. The large diameter of the ball conforms to the French or Russian production standard, countries which used the heavy pound. Since France supplied arms to the Ottoman Empire, the cannon may have been part of this supply, or it may have been taken as war booty from the Russians. Three-pound artillery pieces were used in Napoleon’s Near East campaign (Chartrand 2003:35) and were also documented by his army in the list of booty taken from the Ottoman fortresses in the country (two from Gaza and seven from Yafo; Jonquiere 1899:685). Thus, it is concluded that the cannon was common in the Ottoman fortresses in the country. The cannonball is too big for the 1 okka cannon and too small for the 1.5 okka cannon, both of which were manufactured in the Ottoman Empire (Agoston 2005:245–246).
The most important find in the excavation is the burial complex that was probably part of the necropolis of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. The complex was large, but its quarrying was simple. The elongated loculi in Rooms 1 and 3 were presumably used for primary burials while the small loculi in Room 2 served as repositories for collecting the bones. Room 2 might have been hewn one or more generations after the other rooms. Similar complexes were used in Jerusalem mainly from the first century BCE until the destruction of the city in 70 CE. The ceramic finds in the burial complex indicate that it was used from the first century CE to 70 CE. The sherds exposed in Stratum 3, which date to the Second Temple period and the second century CE, indicate that Room 2 was no longer used after the year 70 CE.