The Western Wall Plaza Excavations

26 11 2008

Friday morning Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah of the IAA gave a paper on Archaeological Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem – The Western Wall Plaza.  Her presentation gave a detailed account of the salvage excavations being carried out on the western edge of the western wall plaza.  They first excavated an Ottoman bakery that had been built into a Medieval hall dating to the 13th century CE.  This structure was made up of two stories built with a series of arches and vaults.  Under this was a late 8th century CE Islamic building, possibly a marketplace that was built directly on the Cardo pavement.  The Roman Cardo was exposed to a length of 45 meters.  It was 11m wide with 5m wide sidewalks on either side and then shops.  Here description of the stratigraphy reminded me of those Russian nesting dolls.

Below the Cardo late Iron Age levels were revealed.  The remains from this period were found only in the northern area of excavation and began in the 9th or 8th century BCE with a quarry.  The main structure excavated was a large variation of the four room house.  It’s walls (including foundations) are preserved 4-5 meters high and fills under the house date it to the 7th century BCE.  On top of the floor there is 10-15 cm of occupation levels and then a destruction, possibly dating to 586 BCE.

Of the small finds there are a number of epigraphic discoveries.  These include 4 private seals, including the already reported Netanyahu ben Yaush and Hagav the archer seals (all four were very briefly shown on one slide and I couldn’t make out the other two).  Also 20 LMLK seals were found as were a number of handles with concentric circles, and even one LMLK seal with concentric circle seal as well.  A handle inscribed with the name (?) nkm was found as well.  Finally, a complete oil lamp, restorable pottery, and many figurines were also found.

A very interesting lecture, well illustrated and only lacking some slides of the pottery.  Hopefully this excavation will continue to bring up new information on the history of Jerusalem in antiquity.



3 responses

3 12 2008
G.M. Grena

Ditto from my other comment regarding the “NKM” inscription … was there a photo or drawing shown? This combination of “Nun Kaf Mem” isn’t known on any other specimens.

And for the record, you mentioned “concentric circle seal”, but unlike LMLK seals & Personal seals, the Circle marks were incised after firing, not stamped into the wet clay with a seal. Likewise, when you say “handle inscribed with the name”, it really is a handle bearing a seal inscription, unlike the famous Gibeon handles that were actually handles inscribed with names in the wet clay.

Very nice info! I really would’ve liked to have been at this particular lecture to meet her & inquire about the formal publication of these handles, & the context in which they were found.

3 12 2008

Thanks for the info on the concentric circle “marks”, what is your opinion of their significance? Is it a cancellation mark like Gaby thinks? And “NKM” was really inscribed, not a seal. She did show a picture of the handle and it was just letters without any other marks.

28 03 2009

Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

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