The room (A; c. 5 × 5 m, height above a modern concrete floor 2.5 m; Figs. 2–4) was constructed in a traditional manner similarly to several adjoining rooms, with a barrel-vault ceiling supported on four walls, and six pillars—four of them engaged in the four corners of the room and two engaged in the center of the southern and northern walls. The spaces between the pillars were sealed with stone walls that survived almost to their full height (height c. 2.7 m above a plaster floor, see below; Figs. 3–6). Retaining walls (Figs. 3, 4), probably intended to reinforce the pillars, possibly for the construction of a second floor, were discernible in the corners of the room.
The doorway in the northern wall (Fig. 5) led to an elongated irregular passage (B; length 4.5 m, width 2.5 m, height 2.2 m; Fig. 2). Other openings to the room were apparently in the southern wall, on both sides of the central pillar (Fig. 6).
No windows were discovered; their absence indicates that the room was probably part of a hall or large structure that extended beyond the walls, and over the years its original purpose changed and the spaces between the pillars were sealed.
An excavation square (L104, L108; c. 2.5 × 2.5 m; Fig. 2) was opened next to the pillar in the center of the southern wall, and remains of a plaster floor, a built channel, a packed concentration of stones and the pillar’s foundation were exposed.
Sections of a plaster floor were revealed beneath the concrete floor (depth c. 0.3 m; Figs. 7, 8); they abutted the pillar in the southern wall. The plaster floor may have been damaged in the work that preceded the installation of the modern concrete floor.
Remains of a water channel (L102; length c. 3.5 m; Figs. 2, 8) with a U-shaped cross section (inner width 0.18 m, depth 0.18 m) aligned northeast–southwest were exposed below the plaster floor (depth c. 0.1 m). The channel was built of a single row of fieldstones covered by medium-sized fieldstone slabs (length 0.25–0.30 m, width 0.15–0.20 m, thickness 0.05 m) set in place on their sides. Dark gray alluvium devoid of datable finds was exposed in the channel.
A rounded concentration of small fieldstones bonded with yellowish mortar (L104; Fig. 9) was revealed in the northern part of the excavation square, c. 0.75 m below the concrete floor. It is possible that the slightly curved lump was part of the side of a cavity or a water cistern and that the channel was part of it. There is also the possibility that the channel was part of another cistern whose opening was located below the floor of the courtyard (as reported by the residents).
Another concentration of fieldstones was exposed in the southeastern corner of the excavation square (L108; depth 0.7–0.8 m), which consisted of small and medium-sized fieldstones that abutted the eastern side of the pillar in the center of the southern wall (see Fig. 7). A cluster of seven crushed jars dating to the end of the ‘Abbasid–Fatimid periods (tenth or eleventh centuries CE, below) was exposed at the bottom of the square, on the western side of the central pillar; it is likely they were placed in the area at the time the pillar was erected.
The ceramic finds, which are diverse and date to several periods, appear to reflect the history of the site. The earliest finds, from the Byzantine period, include an LRC bowl (Fig. 10:1). The Umayyad and ‘Abbasid–Fatimid periods are represented by a cooking bowl (Fig. 10:2), a lid (Fig. 10:3) and jars (Fig. 10:4–8), several of them (Fig. 10:7, 8) dating to the end of the ‘Abbasid–Fatimid periods. Patination was noted on some of the jars, which is possibly indicative of their prolonged use or that they were in water. In addition, a turquoise-glazed vessel (Fig. 10:9) was found, also dating to the end of the ‘Abbasid–Fatimid periods. Two bowls ascribed to the Crusader and Ayyubid periods, one handmade and burnished on the inside (Fig. 10:10) and the other glazed brown (Fig. 11), were found.
The most recent finds date to the Ottoman period (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE). These seem to reflect the end of the time span—when the room was in use—and the time of the water channel (L102). These artifacts include a large bowl (Fig. 12:1), a handmade bowl decorated with geometric stripes (Fig. 12:2), a Gaza Ware bowl (Fig. 12:3), a chamber pot (Fig. 12:4), a jar (Fig. 12:5) and a red-burnished tobacco pipe from the eighteenth century CE (Fig. 12:6).
Other finds include glass fragments (not drawn) belonging to a bottle, fragments of a window, probably dating to the end of the Ottoman period, and a nail file (Fig. 13).
The limited scope of the excavation impeded the determination of the connection between the channel and remains of the presumed cistern on the one hand and the building and its surroundings on the other. No earlier strata were reached in the excavation as well. The documentation of the room provides a limited view of the architectural fabric of this area in the Old City.
The ceramic finds seem to reflect a settlement sequence dating from the Byzantine to the Ottoman periods, a sequence that was not sufficiently clarified due to the small dimensions of the excavation.