Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City Jerusalem Volume IV: The Burnt House of Area B and Other Studies

Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City Jerusalem Volume IV: The Burnt House of Area B and Other Studies


This is the fourth volume on the results of the excavations directed by the late Professor Nahman Avigad in the years 1969-1982 at the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The first two volumes on these excavations (Jewish Quarter I, II) dealt with Areas A, W and X-2, including remains of the Broad Wall, the Israelite Tower, and the First Wall, all fortifications dating to the First and Second Temple periods. These are located in the northern part of the Jewish Quarter, in areas that had been included within the city's fortified area by the end of the First Temple Period (Jewish Quarter I, II). The third volume presents the results of excavations in Area E, where remains of private dwellings from the time of Herod the Great were exposed; they were shown to have been put into disuse when a stone-paved street was constructed over them (Jewish Quarter III). These three volumes also included studies of specific artifact assemblages from the Jewish Quarter excavations, including various seal impressions and Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions of the First and Second Temple periods, glass production waste from the beginning of the Herodian period, and stone scale weights of the late Second Temple period, among others.

This volume presents the remains and artifacts discovered in Area B, at the eastern end of the Jewish Quarter, opposite the Temple Mount and Western Wall on the other side of the Tyropoeon Valley. Remains of four settlement strata were found there, dating from the end of the First Temple period (Stratum 4), the late Second Temple period (Strata 3 and 2), and the Byzantine period up to the late Mamluk/early Ottoman period (Stratum 1). The most important of these remains is a residential structure that has come to be known as the Burnt House (Stratum 2). It consists of a small courtyard with a number of rooms, a kitchen, and a miqweh, but was clearly part of a larger structure that extended beyond the limits of the excavation. The house was constructed around the beginning of the 1st century CE and destroyed in a conflagration during the period of the ROman conquest and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. In the rooms of the Burnt House were found fragments of dozens of ceramic and stone vessels and hundreds of other finds of different types, buried under layers of charred wooden beams and collapsed stone walls. These remains were remarkably well preserved, lying buried for 1,900 years under layers of later construction. The building and the finds are of particular significance to the archaeological research of the late Second Temple period. Furthermore, the excavation of the house marked the first time in which clear and tangible evidence for the Roman destruction of Jerusalem was recovered. Evidence was also encountered for the name of the house's owner, which appears engraved on a stone weight: "belonging to] the son of Qatros." This was a priestly family that lived in the Upper City of Jerusalem, known from Jewish written sources relating to the Second Temple period.

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Last updated on 02/05/2018