During December 2003, a salvage excavation was conducted at the City of David in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-4046*), prior to the opening of the Bet Ha-Zofe Compound in the City of David visitors’ center. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and sponsored by the El‘ad Association, was directed by R. Avner, with the assistance of V. Essman, V. Pirsky and T. Kornfeld (surveying), I. Berin (drafting), Y. Bukengolts (pottery restoration) and A. Pikovski (pottery drawing). The author wishes to thank M. Avissar and T. De‘adle
Two areas (5.0 × 23.5 m; 4.5 × 13.5 m) were opened, apparently within Area H of Kenyon’s excavations. The current excavation areas were located c. 50 m east of Reich and Shukron’s excvation (HA-ESI 117
) and c. 25 m north of D. Bahat’s excavation (License No. G-58/1998; Fig. 1).
Five strata of architectural remains were discovered in the northern area and six strata were identified in the southern area.
The Northern Area (Fig. 2)
Stratum V. A rock-hewn channel (L121; length 9.4 m, width 0.57 m, depth 0.1 m) whose northern part curves to the northwest.
Stratum IV. Perpendicular walls (W8––length 3.3 m, width 0.7 m, height 0.93 m; W11––length 1.1 m, width unknown, height 0.9 m), which formed the southwestern corner of an architectural compound (L143). Potsherds dating to the Second Temple period, including a jar (Fig. 3:5) and a base of a Judean lamp (Fig. 3:10) dating to Iron II, were recovered from the fill between the walls. The assemblage was not sealed.
Stratum III. A cistern (L106; length 5 m, width 3.2 m, depth 5.8 m; Fig. 2: Section 1-1) whose floor and walls were coated with pink-gray plaster (thickness 0.35 m). The wall at the northern side of the cistern (W10; length 3.5 m, width 0.58 m, height 1.54 m) was erected on top of an earlier wall (W11). Wall 10, built of medium-sized stones with soil between them, was preserved five courses high. An opening (width 0.7 m, height 1 m) in the ceiling of the cistern was built of a single course of stones. Potsherds dating to the Fatimid period were found inside the cistern, including a bowl (Fig. 3:1), a jug (Fig. 3:9) and a jar (Fig. 3:6). The cistern was not sealed.
Stratum II. A wall (W1; length 1.4 m, width 0.9 m, height 0.81 m), preserved three courses high, which continued west below the balk, was exposed. It was built on W8 of Stratum IV and consisted of two rows of coarsely dressed medium and large stones with a core of soil and small fieldstones. The wall was abutted on the north by a floor (L103) of gray plaster (thickness 0.2 m) above which was an intact lamp (Fig. 3:11) that dated to the Abbasid period––the second half of the eighth century–first half of the ninth century CE. The potsherds below the floor were ascribed to the Early Islamic period––the seventh–ninth centuries and possibly even the tenth century CE.
Stratum I. A wall (W2; length 4 m, width 0.6 m, height 0.68 m) was attributed to this stratum. Wall 2, built of rows of small and medium-sized stones and several large stones that were coarsely hewn, with soil and fieldstones between them, was preserved two courses high. It was erected next to the western side of Cistern 106 (Stratum III) and it formed a corner with W1 of Stratum II. Wall 2 was abutted on the south by a floor of tamped earth (L104) that was overlaid with potsherds, including a glazed bowl (Fig. 3:2) from the Fatimid period (second half of the ninth and the tenth centuries CE), indicating that neither Floor 104 nor W2 were earlier than this period.
The Southern Area
Since the strata in the northern area could not be correlated with those in the southern area, the designation of the strata is different in each.
Stratum F. As in the northern area, rock-hewn channels (Loci 144, 145) oriented north–south were discovered (Fig. 2: Section 2-2). These were probably severance channels in a quarry.
Stratum E. Two perpendicular walls (W6––length 3.75 m, width 0.9 m, height 1.71 m; W7––length 0.8 m, width 0.6 m, height 1.1 m), preserved 10–11 courses high, formed the northeastern corner of an architectural space (L142). The walls were built of two rows of coarsely dressed medium and large stones with a core of soil fill. Potsherds from the Second Temple period and Iron II were discovered while dismantling a section of W6. Therefore, this stratum is dated to the Second Temple period and remains from Iron II were probably near the excavation.
Stratum D. Stone fill (L141) was preserved next to the southern balk; it appears to continue northward above L142, which was removed in Kenyon’s excavation.
Stratum C. A wall (W4; length 0.7 m, width 0.8 m, height 0.6 m) and a floor (L111) were preserved in a small section next to the southern balk. Wall 4, preserved three courses high, was built of two rows of coarsely dressed medium-sized stones with a core of soil and small fieldstones. Below the floor that abutted W4 on the west was a krater (Fig. 3:4) from the ninth–tenth centuries CE, which came from a fill that also contained a cooking pot (Fig. 3:3), dating to the first century BCE. It therefore seems that the floor and the wall dated to the ninth and tenth centuries CE.
Stratum B. The southern face of a wall (W5; length 2 m, width 0.5 m) was exposed in the northern balk. It was preserved seven courses high and built of two rows of medium stones, some of which were undressed, with a core of soil. The wall was built on an earlier wall (W6) from Stratum E.
Stratum A. A wall (W3; length 3 m, width 0.9 m, height 0.8 m) in the eastern balk continued north and south beyond the limits of the excavation. Wall 3, preserved a single course high, was built of two rows of coarsely dressed stones with a core of soil, small fieldstones and traces of gray plaster.
The latest artifact from the excavation––a pipe fragment (Fig. 3:12) dated to the nineteenth century CE whose mouthpiece is shaped as a lily and inscribed with a woman’s name, Zafa––came from the fill on a plaster floor (L111). Other potsherds found after the collapse of the northern balk in the excavation area included a cup from the ninth and tenth centuries CE (Fig. 3:8) and a jar from the second half of the eighth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 3:7).