On the slope of a southeastern spur (Fig. 1), a natural cave that was converted to a plastered water cistern (Figs. 2, 3) was exposed. The ceramic artifacts dated to Iron II and the Early Roman period.
The water cistern was installed in a naturally vaulted cave (L103; 4.5 × 6.0 m, depth 4.5 m) and its rectangular-shaped opening (1.2 × 1.7 m), hewn in its southern side, was probably the widening of an existing natural opening (Fig. 4). The eastern and western sides of the opening were shallower than the others.
On the southern side (height 2.15 m) of the cistern was a rock-cut step (0.2–0.4 × 1.3 m, depth 0.6 m; Fig. 5) near the opening. The sides of the cave and its floor, which sloped to the south (Fig. 6), were coated with friable light gray plaster (thickness 4.5 cm) that contained a few small clay and carbon inclusions; two plaster layers were applied to the sides.
The cistern was intentionally blocked with fill, which consisted of earth, different sized fieldstones, large rocks and potsherds that were found in the southern part of the cistern, near the opening and on the floor. In addition, half of the cistern’s capstone (0.50 × 0.65 m, height 0.27 m; dimensions of perforation 0.15 × 0.30 m; Fig. 7) was found in the fill.
The potsherds dated to Iron II and the Early Roman period. Those from the Iron Age included bowls (Fig. 8:1, 2) and jars (Fig. 8:3, 4) and the potsherds from the Early Roman period (first century BCE–first century CE) consisted of cooking pots (Fig. 8:5–7), jars (Fig. 8:8, 9) and a jug (Fig. 8:10).
A survey, which had been conducted in the past near the cistern, documented a burial cave, building remains and another water cistern (Kloner A. 2000, Survey of Jerusalem, The Northwestern Sector
, Sites 27, 28); a columbarium cave (HA-ESI 120
) and a limekiln (Permit No. A-4300) were excavated nearby. It seems that the water cistern belonged to this complex of remains and even though the period of its use is unclear, it appears to have been blocked close to the end of the Early Roman period.