Meir Ben-Dov

Byzantine houses (early seventh century) alongside a wall from the Omayyad period (660–750 A.D.), left. One elegant home, center, had a peristyle court; its columns have been returned to their original positions. Under the Roman-Byzantine emperor Constantine at the beginning of the fourth century A.D., Jerusalem became a Christian city. The emperor promptly began a campaign to encourage European Christian settlement in Palestine, and home-building boomed.

Later in the Byzantine period (sixth century A.D.), houses were also built around courtyards (see reconstruction drawing), but the columns were structural, supporting partial roofs, not decorative as they had been in the early Byzantine period. Usually built on bedrock, these houses often rose several stories. The inhabitants seem to have been oblivious to air pollution. They installed workshops in ground floor rooms (for tanning, dyeing and finishing cloth, refining copper, or other light industries), while they made their living quarters in the upper story.