Since my previous post on this project, on 16 June 2011, much has transpired: They’re actually doing it, and have DONE it!
On 07 July I had occasion to view the pool from the south, from the roof of the Swedish Christian Study Center inside Jaffa Gate. I was struck by the volume of accumulated material they were actually stripping away, particularly at the northern end of the pool (which was all I could see at the time). The following three photos tell the story: bordering the pool is the so-called Coptic Khan, a former caravanserai and now a residential compound; beyond and to the right is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Note the tall working face where the accumulated deposits, many meters deep, are being dug out:
On 21 July I was back in the area and was surprised to find that they had pretty much cleared the entire pool, though I couldn’t tell if they had reached an actual floor level or not. (I suspected they had reached a surface of hard-packed silt deposits and found it a convenient level at which to stop.) By the way, on this occasion I found that the roof of the Petra Hostel, a dandy viewpoint, was open once again, at least on a limited basis (“5 shekels, please”). I located another vantage point as well (my secret), high above the western side of the pool.
On 02 August: Surprise! The floor has been swept to reveal (to my eyes, at least) a definite paved and/or plastered floor. Even the earthen access ramp has been cleared and replaced with one built of panels and framing.
I hope to continue monitoring the site for any signs of archaeological probes and/or further development or infrastructure work. The stated purpose of the project, beyond eliminating an eyesore and health hazard, is to create proper drainage. We shall see…