In October–November 2012, a trial excavation took place in ‘Akko (Permit No. A-6619; map ref. 208324–6/759421–588), prior to the installation of a sewage line. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by A. Abu Hamid (field photography), with the assistance of A. Shapiro (GPS; area supervision), Y. Gur (area supervision), Y. Ya‘akobi and B. Zedan (administration), R. Mishayev and M. Kahan (survey and drafting), D. Syon (metal detection; numismatics), W. Atrash (scientific guidance), A. Keinan (safety), E.J. Stern (Crusader pottery), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and DPS Images (aerial photography).
Area A (Figs. 3, 4)
Stratum IIIb (earlier phase in the Crusader period). In the northern part of Area A, the southwestern corner of a building was found. The walls (W110, W114) were built of a combination of roughly worked kurkar stones and medium-sized fieldstones bonded with mortar, and plastered; they were preserved for four courses. Outside the building, to the west of W114, a layer of sand, containing numerous sherds of Antiliya jars, was exposed (L140), indicating that there may have been an Antiliya well nearby. In the southern part of Area A, two floor patches (L154, L155; Figs 5, 6), composed of medium-sized, roughly worked paving stones on a layer of sand and yellowish crushed kurkar, were found. Floor 155 was cut on its western side by the foundation trench (L156) of a Stratum IIIa wall (W120).
Stratum IIIa (later phase in the Crusader period). Four segments of a long wall were attributed to this phase (W118, W120, W126, W142; exposed length c. 25 m; see Fig. 5). The wall, on an approximate north–south axis, was built of two rows of roughly worked, medium-sized fieldstones, and it was preserved for three to four courses. The wall probably extended to the north and south beyond the excavation limits. To the west of Walls 118, 120 and 126, a clayey soil layer, characteristic of the site, was uncovered (L121, L131, L145). The stone paving of the earlier Stratum IIIb Floors 154 and 155 (see Fig. 4), was cut by the wall, but it still continued in use in this phase. North of the paved floor, two iron horseshoes were found in a soil fill (L148; see Fig. 28).
Stratum II (Mamluk period). In Stratum II, the Stratum III walls continued in use, with some additions. In the northern part of Area A, two small walls (W133, W138; Fig. 7) may have formed a corner just outside the excavation limits, with Wall 138 abutting the eastern face of Stratum IIIb W114. Walls 133 and 138 were built of a single row of stones and were preserved for one course. A soil layer (L141) within the walls, containing a few pottery sherds dating to the fourteenth–fifteenth centuries, was probably an occupation layer. In the center of Area A, another flimsy wall (W123), similarly built of one row of stones, was uncovered. In the southern part of the area, two walls were found (W109, W157; Fig. 8). Wall 109 (length 11.5 m) on a northeast–southwest axis, was built of two rows of medium-sized fieldstones interspersed with small fieldstones, set on a row of foundation stones (W153); it was preserved to a maximum height of two courses. A second wall (W157) curved round, connecting W109 to W126, and enclosing the area between them (Fig. 9).
Stratum I (Ottoman period). Only a few pottery sherds, dating to the eighteenth century, were found here.
Area B (Fig. 10)
Stratum III (Crusader period). In the western part of Area B, a square pier (W406), with two abutting walls was uncovered (W410, W411; Fig. 11). Pier 406 was built of roughly worked stones and kurkar fieldstones, bonded with mortar; it was preserved for three or more courses. Wall 411 abutted the pier from the north, its construction similar to that of the pier. Curving W410 abutted the pier from the west; it was built of one row of large, roughly worked fieldstones. Both walls extended beyond the excavation limits. In the eastern part of Area B, the northwestern corner of a wide walled building was exposed (W405, W408; Fig. 12); a brown clay layer mixed with sand was found on both sides of W405 (L402, L404).
The Area B building remains were covered over with a sand accumulation layer, containing pottery sherds, predominantly from the Crusader period. A silver half dirham coin from the reign of Sultan Baybars (1269–1277 CE, the beginning of the Mamluk period; IAA 106987) was also found in the sand layer, as well as a tobacco pipe fragment from the Ottoman period (nineteenth century; see Fig. 26:2).
Area C (Fig. 13)
Stratum IV (Roman period). Area C, separated into two sub-areas (C1 and C2) located c. 50 m apart, exhibited the earliest building remains exposed in the excavation. In Area C1, part of a mausoleum wall built of ashlars and fieldstones, was discovered (W602; Figs 14, 15). The northern part of W602 connected to another wall of the mausoleum (W610), running east–west and extending mostly beyond the excavation limits. Wall 602 was overlain by a brown clay accumulation layer (L601), and a similar brown clay layer was found to the east of W602 (L604), into which the mausoleum was built. Many clay coffin fragments were found adjacent to the northern part of W602 (L609; Figs. 16, 17). Similar clay coffins were found in the cemetery in ‘Akko, where they were dated to the first–second centuries CE (Abu ‘Uqsa 2009). In Area C2, a layer of worked stones and fieldstones of various sizes (L605), set on a brown clay layer (L606, L608), extended eastwards and westwards beyond the excavation limits (Fig. 18). This stone surface was probably part of a road. A clay accumulation layer (L603) overlay the stone layer. Only a few worn pottery sherds were retrieved here. The road may possibly be dated to the Roman period, based on the many coffin fragments found in Area C1, which were probably part of the large Roman period cemetery, uncovered in previous excavations carried out south of the current excavation area and extending to the foot of the tell.
The pottery assemblage retrieved in the excavation dates from the Hellenistic, Roman, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods, the Roman period assemblage albeit meager, consisting only of worn sherds. Whilst similar pottery assemblages from these periods have been retrieved in previous excavations in ‘Akko and its vicinity, the importance of the present assemblage lies in its findspot in the area of Manshiya. This is the first time that pottery repertoires from these periods have been found in this area, located some distance north of Tel ‘Akko.
Hellenistic period.The Hellenistic sherds found in the later strata in all the excavation areas was characteristic of the period, dating predominantly to the third–second centuries BCE. The finds included bowls (Fig. 19:1–9), kraters (Fig. 19:10, 11), cooking vessels (Fig. 20:1–5), jars (Fig. 20:6) and an unguentarium (Fig. 20:7).
Crusader period. The excavation revealed many Crusader pottery sherds. Some vessels were locally manufactured in ‘Akko, or regionally in northern Lebanon, Beirut and Syria. The assemblage included bowls (Fig. 21:1–6), casseroles (Fig. 22:1, 2), cooking pots (Fig. 22:3–6), jugs (Fig. 23:1, 2), jars (Fig. 23:3–6), Antiliya jars (Fig. 23:7), and a table amphora (Fig. 23:8). Other vessels were imported from the area of the Syrian-Turkish border, from Cyprus, the Aegean basin and Italy, these vessels including a variety of bowls (Fig. 24:1–8). Similar bowls were uncovered in previous excavations in various areas of Crusader ‘Akko, where they were dated to the twelfth–thirteenth centuries (see references in the pottery description table).
Mamluk period.Only a few fourteenth–fifteenth century sherds were found, mainly as surface finds, including bowls (Fig. 25:1, 2) and a jar (Fig. 25:3).
Ottoman period.Two tobacco pipes fragments were found on the surface (Fig. 26:1, 2). Similar tobacco pipes found in ‘Akko were dated to the nineteenth century (Robinson 1985:187).
A few metal items were found in the excavation, predominantly in Area A. A lead sling stone was found in a soil fill attributed to Stratum III (L128, B1051; Fig. 27). The sling stone is poorly preserved, and its upper part is missing, but an anchor decoration is visible on one side (Fig. 27:1), and a coiled snake on the other (Fig. 27:2). Sling stones were discovered in an excavation carried out west of Tel ‘Akko (Area E), where they were dated to the third century BCE (Dothan 1976:46). Also in Area A, three iron horseshoes found in a Stratum IIIa layer attributed to the later Crusader period (Fig. 28), resemble European horseshoes dating to the twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE (Rosen 2000:107*–108*). Similar horseshoes from Horbat ʽUza, were also dated to the twelfth–thirteenth centuries (Tatcher 2009:183, Fig. 3.41:3 [Reg. No. 342-3451]). A bronze button, decorated with a fleur-de-lys, a symbol adopted by the Crusaders, probably came from a Stratum III context in Area A, attributed to the Crusader period, the twelfth–thirteenth centuries (L117, B1050; Fig. 29); no parallels were found. Two iron arrowheads found in Area A (Fig. 30:1, 2), were of a similar type to those found at Montfort, dated there to the end of the thirteenth century (Dean 1927: Fig. 53: N, P). Iron nails were found in various strata in Areas A and B (Figs. 31, 32).
Twenty-one glass fragments were found in the excavation, six of which were identified. Notwithstanding the small number of fragments, they dated to several periods. Waste associated with the glass industry was also found.
The earliest glass vessel in the assemblage was dated to the Hellenistic period. This is a fragment of a mold-made glass bowl decorated around the body with carved fluting (L400). This bowl is attributed to a group designated ‘Fluted Bowls.’ Bowls fragments of this group were found in previous excavations in ‘Akko, including, for example, in a trial excavation west of the Strauss factory in ‘Akko (Gorin-Rosen 2014: Fig. 7:2, and further references there). In the same locus, a fragment of a mold-made bowl rim decorated with two horizontal incised lines under the interior of the rim was found. This vessel is dated to the end of the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods. Similar bowls were found in other excavations in ‘Akko, Caesarea, Jerusalem and at many other sites. A small fragment of the neck of a bottle, decorated with a wavy trail, was also found, dated to the late Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (L113). The latest fragment found is the base of a large jar dated to the Middle Ages (L105). These jars are well known from other excavations in ‘Akko in which Crusader period remains were found.
Two chunks of glass industrial waste were also found. One is a raw glass flake, bluish-greenish in color, naturally broken, triangular in section (L601; 2.7 × 2.2 × 0.5 cm). The other is a amorphic-shaped waster of varying thickness (L603). Glass waste has been found in many excavations in ‘Akko, attesting to the extent of this industry in and around the city. The meager finds from the excavation, preclude dating the waste, or gleaning additional evidence about the type and location of the furnace.
Three construction strata, attributed to the Roman, Crusader and Mamluk periods, were exposed in the excavation, as well as pottery sherds from the Hellenistic and Ottoman periods. The Hellenistic sherds were not associated with architectural remains but appeared in later strata, and they probably came from a Hellenistic settlement in or around ‘Akko. The remains from the Roman period, comprise part of a mausoleum that probably belonged to the large cemetery located north of Tel ‘Akko, and a segment of an ancient road that was possibly part of a road that branched off from the main Roman ‘Akko-Ptolemais to Antioch road; segments of this road have been uncovered in previous excavations (Finkielsztejn 2007; Gosker 2016). The Crusader stratum comprises two phases, an early and a later phase. The remains of a large building in Area B was possibly part of a farmstead, mostly located beyond the excavation limits; to its north, some stone flooring was exposed in Area A. The remains of the earlier phase of the Crusader period were probably built a few years after the Ayyubid period, at the beginning of the thirteenth century CE. Ibn Shaddād, who accompanied Saladin in his double siege on ‘Akko in 1189, reported that Saladin set up camp at Kh. el-‘Ayadiyeh, east of Tel ‘Akko, while the Crusader encampment was situated to the west near the sea, and there is no mention of the area north of Tel ‘Akko (Bahā al-Din Ibn Shaddād 2016). It may be assumed that, if this area was settled or built at the time of the siege, it would have been mentioned by Ibn Shaddād. The long wall exposed in the excavation was dated to the later phase in the Crusader period, and based on the horseshoes discovered here, it may have been part of a stable complex. It seems that with the Mamluk conquest, the Crusader-period buildings were abandoned or destroyed. Meager building remains from the Mamluk period (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries) were unearthed in Area A. The few Ottoman-period (nineteenth century) finds may have arrived with travelers, shepherds, farmers or soldiers who stayed at the site.
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