|City of David, Givati Car Park|
|Stabilization and post-excavation conservation|
Aliza Van Zaiden
In March 2007 excavations under the direction of Dr. Doron Ben-Ami were conducted in the City of David parking facility known as the Givati Car Park, southeast of the Dung Gate. The excavation area is located on the northwestern side of the City of David spur. During the course of the excavation a formidable architectural complex dating to the latter part of the Second Temple period was discovered directly beneath a series of buildings from the Byzantine period. The site had been intentionally destroyed; enormous fieldstones were toppled from the tops of its walls into the building and onto the vaults in the basement level causing their collapse. The destruction of the building is dated to the year 70 CE. Conservation measures were implemented concurrent with the exposure of the site for the purpose of stabilizing the finds that were revealed.
The remains of a building of impressive dimensions were exposed; its walls rise to a height of more than 5 meters and are approximately 2 meters wide. It has a basement level, which was built of vaults made of neatly dressed white ashlar stones, is equipped with ritual baths (miqve’ot). The remains of different kinds of original plaster were also found: white smoothed lime plaster was preserved along the inside surface of the building’s walls; in the building’s stone collapse fresco remains were discovered that were shades of red, yellow and green, with thin black lines – evidence that the plastered walls of the building were decorated with paint.
The physical problems that were identified and treated were:
1. Stone weathering – cracking and disintegration of the stones’ surface.
2. Bonding material missing from the joints.
3. Exposed wall cores.
4. Large voids deep inside the walls, some of the walls are in danger of collapse.
5. The tops of walls that were not sealed against water.
6. Vegetation had taken root in the building remains.
The primary causes for these problems are: the intentional damage that took place at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple; the environmental conditions to which the remains were subjected for approximately two thousand years; and also the recent exposure of the site which causes accelerated weathering processes due to the extreme change in the environmental conditions.
The conservation measures that were implemented at the site included:
1. Reinforcing the foundations with debesh construction.
2. Completing the construction with debesh in those places where the cores of wall remains are exposed and in the springing of the vaults.
3. Reinforce the springing of the vaults with debesh construction.
4. Clean the joints and pointing them up with lime-based bonding material mixed with aggregates such as pottery, quarry sand, ash, charcoal and gravel.
5. Install wooden supports.
6. Return stones to their original places.
7. Seal the tops of the walls with lime-based bonding material.
8. Fill in the voids in the walls.
9. Treat the plaster remains – stabilize the edges of the plaster and fill in lacunae.
10. Remove vegetation and treat the area with an herbicide.
Conservation guidance concurrent with the archaeological excavation is extremely important. The steps taken to protect the remains from the moment of their exposure minimize the negative effects that result from the extreme change in environmental conditions. The long term preservation of the site requires on-going conservation maintenance that will be performed by a conservator.
To view the figures, click on the figure caption