As of September 2011, a salvage excavation has been underway at the entrance to the visitor’s center in the City of David, on Ma‘alot ‘Ir David Street (Permit No. A-6290; map ref. 222395–405/631286–99; the following description includes the finds uncovered until March 2013). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the ‘Elad Foundation, was directed by J. Uziel, with the assistance of E. Kagan, F. Corbin and D. Tan‘ami (area supervision), N. Nehama (administration), V. Essman and Y. Shmidov (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), S. ‘Adalah (metal detection) and N. Zak (plans).
Stratum VI (Late Roman period; Fig. 2). Part of a large building that extended beyond the limits of the current excavation was exposed in the entire area. Elements of three rooms (1–3) were revealed in the building. Two of the three rooms were paved with a color mosaic fine-quality decorated with a guilloche pattern (L1146, L925; Fig. 3). A channel (L1151) built next to the eastern wall of the building (W1050) drained water from the structure’s roof. The channel was plastered and covered with stone slabs that continued northward where they were integrated within a stone pavement (L1143). Only a small part of the pavement was exposed; thus it is unclear if this was a pavement of an alley or a courtyard. Ceramic finds dating to the Late Roman period, including bowls and a Bet Natif type lamp, were discovered on the floors of the rooms.
Stratum V (Byzantine period). A single fieldstone-built wall, aligned east–west, was exposed above the remains of the structure in Stratum VI. The wall was sealed from above by Stratum IV. On the basis of its stratigraphic location the wall can be dated to the Byzantine period.
Stratum IV (Byzantine period). A layer of moist brown soil (thickness 1 m) that contained a small amount of potsherds dating to the Byzantine period (L1140; Fig. 4) was exposed. It seems that this stratum was part of garden soil that covered the entire area.
Stratum III (Byzantine–Early Islamic periods). An installation built of small fieldstones and plastered on the inside was discerned in the excavation’s eastern balk (L1152; Fig. 4); only the western side of the installation was excavated. The installation was dug into Soil Layer 1140 of Stratum IV and was sealed from above by Stratum II. It was dated on the basis of its stratigraphic location.
Stratum II (Abbasid period). Two layers of a road that probably ran along a route similar to that of the road today were exposed. A shallow drainage channel (depth 0.25 m) that curved from the east to the south was discovered on the southern side of the area. The channel was plastered and covered with stone slabs. The road abutted the covering stones of the channel. Potsherds dating to the Abbasid period were discovered in the channel and the road.
Stratum I (Mamluk period; Fig. 5). Four layers of a road (L1105, L1108, L1109, L1119; Fig. 5) that continued from Stratum II and deviated slightly to the west were exposed. A wall (W1004; exposed length 13.5 m), built of fieldstones and dressed stones in secondary use and oriented north–south axis, was exposed next to the eastern side of the road; it seems that it delimited the road from that direction. Potsherds dating to the Mamluk period were discovered in the road layers, among them fragments of green-glazed bowls and handmade vessels decorated with geometric patterns (Mamluk Handmade Geometric Painted Ware).
Settlement layers from the Late Roman until the Mamluk periods were exposed in the excavation. It should be noted that no layer from the Mamluk period was exposed in the excavations nearby at the Giv‘ati car park, but the finds in the Byzantine and Late Roman strata in these two excavations are similar. The garden soil ascribed to the Byzantine period was exposed in both excavations. In addition, the remains of the large building from the Late Roman period in Stratum VI are similar to those of an impressive building of the same period that was discovered in the Giv‘ati car park and of “Eusebius House” of the same period that was exposed in excavations by Macalister and Duncan (1926) and E. Mazar.
Mazar E. 2009. The Palace of King David: Excavations at the Summit of the City of David: Preliminary Report of Seasons 2005–2007. Jerusalem.
Macalister R.A.S and Duncan J.G. 1926. Excavations on the Hill of Ophel, Jerusalem, 1923–1925 (Palestine Exploration Fund Annual 4). London.