A quarry (35×45 m; Figs. 1–3) dating to the Hasmonean and Herodian periods was exposed. Three excavation areas (A–C) were opened along the lower eastern slope that descends toward Nah
al Sanhedriyya, one of the Nah
al Soreq tributaries. The quarry was overlain with terra rossa
soil (thickness 1–2 m), most of which was removed with the aid of mechanical equipment. The bedrock outcrops are limestone, mostly of the Ba‘ana formation, of the Turonian epoch in the Yehuda Group. The principal and thickest bedrock stratum at the site is melekeh
—a soft dense crystalline type of limestone rock. Although this is a hard rock, it is easily quarried and dressed because it is relatively soft underneath the surface and only after exposure to open air does it become hard. Quarries and burial caves from the Herodian period had previously been documented in the vicinity of the site (Survey of Jerusalem, The Northeastern Sector 
, Sites 235, 242–244).
Numerous ancient stone quarries were exposed in and around Jerusalem. Most of them were discovered in the necropolis around the Old City walls, and they date to the First Temple period. The stones quarried in the burial cavities were used in building, although they were small and usually unsuitable for the construction of public buildings and walls. Most of the components that typify ancient quarries were discovered in the current ones, including courtyards for cutting stones of different sizes, ancillary installations for the quarrymen, and tools that reflect the methods utilized in hewing and quarrying at the site. On the basis of the typology devised by Z. Safrai and A. Sasson (Safrai and Sasson 2001), these quarries can be defined as very large, and known from other sites in the country, in the context of monumental and state-initiated construction (Sion, Sasson, Zilberbod and Rapuano 2011).
Quarrying steps (height 2–3 m; Figs. 4, 5) were revealed in the quarry. Rock-cutting marks from the quarrying of large stones (e.g., 1.0–1.3×2.4×4.0 m) were visible in the area, as well as broad deep quarrying channels, stone-dressing marks made with chisels and pick-axes and channels for detaching the stones in the final stages of quarrying. The quarry was divided into work courtyards, where different size stones were hewn—a phenomenon that is also known from other quarries in the country. No stone gravel—a product of initial quarrying—was discovered in the quarry and therefore it seems that the area excavated was located in the center of a large quarry that extended along the slope, rather than on the fringes of the quarry.
Two quarrying courtyards (3, 4) whose openings face southeast were exposed in Area A. A single quarrying courtyard (5) whose opening faced west was exposed in Area B. Two quarrying courtyards (1, 2) were exposed in Area C; Courtyard 2 consisted of two small courtyards (2a, 2b).
The quarrying courtyards were square and open (more than 10 m long). The size of the courtyards was sufficient to allow several laborers to work simultaneously on a number of levels. The quarrying consisted of three main stages.
(1) A quarrying step was first created, allowing the quarryman to reach all sides of the stone, thus facilitating the quarrying and detachment of the stone from the bedrock. The size of the steps was determined by the size of the stone. It seems that the quarry developed from the high part to the low part.
(2) In the next stage, quarrying channels (separating channels) were hewn for detaching the stone from the bedrock on three sides (Figs. 6, 7); the side of the stone that faced the center of the courtyard was the side of the step that had already been quarried. The depth of the channels was set according to the size of the stone desired; the larger the stone was so the channels hewn around it were wider. The cross-section of the quarrying channels was trapezoidal. It was noted that the channels around stones whose size was c. 1 sq m were usually c. 0.1 m wide, whereas in the case of huge stones that are c. 4 m long the channels can be as much as 0.5 m wide (Fig. 8). The channels were cut at an angle (Fig. 9) to facilitate the efficient removal of the quarrying chips, among other things.
A pick-axe was used for quarrying small stones.
(3) In the last stage, a channel (separating channel) was quarried beneath the stone into which stakes were inserted to detach it from the bedrock. The separating channels were hewn at an angle (Fig. 10) so that the stakes could be inserted. These stakes were inserted into small metal jaw-like squares that made it possible to separate the stone while splitting the bedrock. A metal square that has a triangular cross-section was discovered in situ in Area B (L1; 9.0×9.5 cm, thickness 2 cm; 958 grams; Fig. 11:1).
Tools used during the quarrying process were discovered in the excavation. A chisel (L3; length 14 cm, diam. 1.8 cm; diam. of head 4.6 cm), whose use along all sides of the bedrock left diagonal grooves tens of centimeters long, was recovered from Area A, as well as a bent metal rod with a semi-circular cross-section that was broken on either end (L12; length 11. 4 cm, diam. 2.6 cm; Fig. 11:2). A narrow elongated strip of metal (L8; length 15.2 cm, width 1.4 cm, thickness 2 mm; Fig. 11:3) meant for marking was found in Area B. In addition, horseshoes (L1, L3; Fig. 11:4) and a metal ring (L4; diam. 1.6 cm; Fig. 11:5) were discovered.
Fifty-seven diagnostic potsherds were discovered in the excavation. Twenty-one of them date to Iron Age II, and were presumably swept there from a site located further up the slope; they include bowls (Fig. 12:1–9), kraters (Fig. 12:10, 11), jars (Fig. 12:12–19) and a jug (Fig. 12:20). Twenty-three potsherds—the majority of finds—date to the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman periods (the Hasmonean and Herodian dynasties), and include bowls (Fig. 13:1–6), jars (Fig. 13:7–21), a jug (Fig. 13:22) and a flask (Fig. 13:23). Eight potsherds, dating to the end of the Roman and Early Byzantine periods, include basins (Fig. 14:1–5), a bowl (Fig. 14:6), a cooking krater (Fig. 14:7) and a jug (Fig. 14:8). Several potsherds, including a jar (Fig. 14:9) and a jug (Fig. 14:10), dating to the Early Islamic period; a bowl (Fig. 14:11) and a jar (Fig. 14:12), dating to the Mamluk period; and, a bowl (Fig. 14:13) and a jar (Fig. 14:14), dating to the Ottoman period, were found.
Two coins were discovered in Area A (L14). One is of Alexander Jannaeus from the years 80/79 BCE and onward (IAA 138059), and the other is a Late Roman coin, probably from the years 351–361 CE (IAA 138060).
The dating of the quarry, like that of other installations, is difficult because the finds recovered from them do not come from sealed loci. From the moment the quarry ceased to operate it became a refuse dump and therefore it contains diverse finds. Nevertheless, most of the finds from the quarry date to the Late Hasmonean and the Herodian periods and it therefore seems that the activity in the quarry should be ascribed to these periods. The large stones hewn in the quarry substantiate this dating, because it seems they were hewn for the public construction projects in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.
The exposed quarry is part of an extensive region of quarries from the Second Temple period. It seems that these quarries, even if privately operated, were part of an organized state-initiated plan that determined stone quarrying priorities in accordance with the construction objectives. These quarries supplied building stones for public structures in the heart of Jerusalem, particularly for the retaining walls of the Temple Mount during Herod’s reign, which was the apex of national construction projects during the Second Temple period.