Column 1, the largest of the three (length 5.7 m, diam. 0.9 m; Fig. 5), was hewn at the end of a bedrock step; on its southwestern side, it was hewn the length of a natural fissure in the bedrock. The stonemasons had begun by quarrying a rectangular block at the end of the step. At the same time, they had cut the cylindrical shape of the column in its northeastern side and along its upper surface. The column becomes slightly wider in its southeastern part, perhaps in an attempt to cut a drum in the column’s bottom. The reason the quarrying of the column was not finished might be due to a crack that caused a fracture in the southeastern end of the column. A hewn line was discerned in the northwestern part of the column (Fig. 6); it might have been an attempt to cut the column into building stones in a later phase. The smaller columns (2, 3) were hewn along two natural fissures; two rectangular blocks were exposed whose quarrying was incomplete (Column 2—length c. 1.5 m to the point where it is covered with cement, width 0.4 m; Column 3—length 2.3 m, width 0.4 m; Fig. 7). The quarrying of these columns was halted in an early stage before the stonemasons commenced cutting their cylindrical shape. Signs of rock-cuttings, possibly the beginning of quarrying another large column, were noted in a natural crack in the bedrock surface southwest of the columns.
The use of building stones and columns hewn from mizzi ahmar characterizes the monumental construction of the Byzantine period in Jerusalem from the sixth century CE. Therefore, the quarrying of the columns should be dated to the end of the Byzantine period. Similar stone columns, whose quarrying was incomplete, had previously been discovered in Jerusalem at the Russian Compound (the Finger of Og) and in Mahanē Yehuda. Suspending the hewing of the columns in a relatively early stage afforded us a rare glimpse into the quarrying process of this architectural element.