In October 2016, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Nebi ‘Akasha compound on Strauss Street in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-7830; map ref. 220736/632422; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a public garden. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Eden Company for the Development of the Center of Jerusalem, was directed by T. Lieberman (field photography), with the assistance of N. Nehama (administration), H. Makhlin (antiquities inspection), D. Tanami (metal detection), V. Essman and Y. Shmidov (surveying), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), C. Amit (studio photography) and E. Belashov (drafting).
Two areas (Fig. 2) were opened where ancient remains were identified during an antiquities inspection. A stone floor and a quarry beneath it were exposed in Area A, east of the al-Qameriya tomb, and a water cistern was revealed in Area B, north of the al-Qameriya tomb. Based on the ceramic and glass finds recovered in the excavation the stone pavement dates to the Ottoman period.
Area A (Fig. 3). A stone floor (L2; 1.6 × 3.2 m, thickness 0.2 m) built of flat asymmetric flagstones (average size 0.5 × 0.6 m) was exposed. The flagstones were set in place on top of gray-white mortar mixed with charcoal and a few pottery sherds. The northern and southern parts of the floor were severed in the area and were not preserved. Based on a trial trench dug during the inspection work it seems that the floor continued at least another 2 m to the west. A row of smaller fieldstones (L3; average size c. 0.2 × 0.2 m) was found in the eastern part of the floor, and slightly to its east was another row of fieldstones (W4; height c. 0.45 m, average size 0.5 × 0.5 m; Fig. 4) that delineated the eastern limits of the stone pavement. An accumulation of soil (depth 0.9 m) was excavated below the floor and Gaza Ware body fragments dating to the Ottoman period (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE; Israel 2006) were found. A fragment of a blue-green oval glass bead that likewise dates to the Ottoman period was also discovered (Fig. 5). Rock-cuttings (L9) were revealed in the southern part of the area beneath the accumulated soil. Four quarrying steps and severance channels were identified, indicating a quarry for building stones (Fig. 6). The finds discovered below the stone pavement dated its construction to the Ottoman period at the earliest. The stone quarry, which was exposed beneath the floor, predated it.
Area B. An elliptical water cistern (L6; 1.8 × 2.0 × 4.0 m; Figs. 7–9) was found, lined with a layer of white plaster to which an additional layer of plaster or gray mortar was applied. The cistern was covered with a partially preserved vault that survived to a maximum height of two courses (L7). No datable material was found in the cistern, but it contained voussoirs from the vault that had collapsed inward (Fig. 10). The mortar on the sides of the cistern was similar to the mortar exposed in a cistern previously excavated c. 50 m south of the area (Landes-Nagar 2012) that was dated to the nineteenth century, part of a building complex that included drainage channels. It seems that the water cistern was used at the same time as the stone floor in Area A.
All the finds from the excavation date to the Ottoman period. They were apparently related to the activity that transpired in and around the Nebi ‘Akasha compound at that time.
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Landes-Nagar A. 2012. Jerusalem, Hanevi’im Street. HA-ESI 124.