During August–September 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted at the Institute for Marine Training in ‘Akko (Permit No. A-5505; map ref. 20731–4/75878–82), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by E.J. Stern, with the assistance of E. Stern and Y. Lavan (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), H. Smithline (field photography), D. Syon (metal detection), I. Berin (drafting) and laborers from Kafr Manda.
The excavation was undertaken in a lot located c. 15 m east of the Ottoman city wall that surrounds Old ‘Akko. A tower and part of the Crusader city wall, as well as a trench that was excavated by Napoleon’s soldiers and a number of skeletons of French soldiers (ESI 13:22–24; ‘Atiqot 31) had previously been exposed in a lot where the magistrate courthouse was built north of the site.
A rectangular area (c. 6 × 11 m) was opened and a water pipe that dated to the Ottoman period was discovered, as well as layers of fill.
A water pipe composed of ceramic segments (L106; Figs. 1, 2) was exposed at a depth of c. 2 m below surface. The pipe was placed on a bed of small fieldstones in a cut trench; other stones were arranged on either side of the pipe and above it. Stone slabs were placed on the pipe and white lime-based mortar was cast on top of it (Fig. 3). The pipe was found in situ at the northern and southern margins of the excavation. A section of the pipe (length c. 5 m) in the southern square was found damaged and collapsed, probably due to its having slid into a dig to its west. Fragments of artillery shells, cannonballs, lead rifle bullets and tobacco ceramic pipes (Fig. 4) were found in the vicinity of the pipe and dated it to the Ottoman period, probably to the middle of the nineteenth century CE.
Two probes (Loci 103–105) yielded layers of fill that contained numerous stones, some of which were building stones, including a fragment of an ashlar stone with drafted margins that is characteristic of Crusader-period construction (Fig. 5), as well as potsherds that dated to the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Crusader periods (Fig. 6). These layers reached as much as five meters below surface and probably reflect the Ottoman earthmoving works that were carried out prior to the nineteenth century CE.
The excavation finds are consistent with the information from historical sources about the Ottoman period. The excavation site is next to the Old City’s fortifications, in an area that is known to have gone through deep and extensive earthmoving operations when the city’s defenses were being erected. The fortifications were built and reinforced on a number of occasions during the nineteenth century: before the Napoleonic siege of 1799 and particularly in preparation for the battle with Ibrahim Pasha (1832) and prior to his expulsion (1840). It seems that some of the fill should be attributed to these fortification works and the ammunition remains can be ascribed to the battles at the time of Napoleon and possibly during the siege of 1832. With some degree of caution, it can be suggested that the thick layers of fill actually reflect the process whereby the Crusader period moat was gradually filled in throughout the Ottoman period.
The pipe apparently delivered water needed for irrigating the orchards outside the city walls and was fed from the main aqueduct that conveyed water from the Kabri springs to ‘Akko and was built in 1814 by Suleiman Pasha.