Stratum II: The Mamluk Period (thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE)
This stratum was exposed in the southwestern part of Sq 2 and in Sq 1. A layer of fill (L109; min. thickness 1 m; Figs. 1: Section 2-2; 2) was excavated in Sq 2 not down to its bottom; it was apparently intended to raise the level prior to construction. The latest potsherds in the fill dated to the Mamluk period and the earliest—to the Abbasid period; it is unclear if they were brought here together with the fill or were in situ. The fill was overlain with a thick layer of ash (L107; thickness c. 0.3 m; Figs. 1: Section 2-2; 2), which extended west beyond the limits of the excavation, and was also spread across other parts of Sq 2. It is not clear if the ash layer also continued to Sq 1. It was probably formed from the ash waste of an oven or by a ceiling that caught fire. The excavation of the ash layer yielded ceramic finds, the latest dating to the thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE.
Another deposit of fill superposed the ash layer; evidence of construction was visible above it, although its nature and extent could not be determined. The foundation courses of a stone wall (W203; width 0.5 m; Figs. 2, 3) were exposed in Sq 2; it was built of small fieldstones and preserved five courses high. The wall continued to the northeast beyond the limits of the excavation area. No floors that abutted it were found.
Two robber trenches (L105, L108) were exposed in Sq 1; they are probably indicative of walls that belonged to one building, which delimited two rooms, eastern and western, divided by Rubber Trench 105. A plaster floor (L116; Figs. 1: Section 1-1; 4), which was damaged by a wall built in the Ottoman period (see below, W200), was exposed in the northwestern corner of the eastern room in Sq 1. The latest potsherds on Floor 116 dated to the fifteenth century CE. A small section of a plaster floor (L112; Fig. 5) was uncovered in the western corner of the western room; it was not excavated, yet its elevation was close to that of Floor 116; it can therefore be assumed that both floors were contemporary and of one building. The northern part of Floor 112 extended as far as Robber Trench 108.
Stratum IB: The Ottoman Period (fifteenth–nineteenth centuries CE)
A layer of reddish colored soil fill (L103; Fig. 1: Section 2-2) that was meant to level the area prior to construction was discovered in the southwestern half of Sq 2. The latest potsherds in the fill dated to the Ottoman period. A fine quality plaster floor (L102; thickness 0.1 m; Figs. 3, 6) was exposed in the eastern half of Sq 2. The western part of the floor was damaged by modern construction and it was severed in the east by the construction of a wall ascribed to Stratum IA (see below, W200). The floor covered W203 of Stratum II. A small plastered depression (L113; 0.34 × 0.42 m, depth 0.13 m; Figs. 1: Section 1-1, 7) was incorporated in the floor next to the southern corner of the square. Its southwestern and southern sides were coated with plaster, whereas the northern side consisted of two small ashlars, coated with plaster. The installation was probably meant to be a stand for a store jar or space for storage.
A disturbance in the floor (L110) that continued into the balk between the two squares was discerned south of the plastered depression. This partially excavated disturbance was, in all likelihood, a robber trench. The excavation of the plaster layer that composed Floor 102 yielded a clay pipe and in the fill below the floor (L111), the latest potsherds dated to the nineteenth century CE.
The building in Sq 1 had apparently continued to exist without changes to its plan, other than the replacement of Floors 112 and 116 with new plaster floors. Fill (thickness 0.1 m) was discovered on top of Floor 116 in the eastern room and a new plaster floor (L115; see Figs. 1: Section 1-1, 4) was placed above it. Floor 115 continued north into the balk that separated the two squares; however, its continuation was not visible in Square 2. This floor, like Floor 116 below it, was also damaged by the construction of the later wall (see below, W200). Floor 112, in the western room, was replaced with a new plaster floor (L104), which, like Floor 112 below it, extended as far as Robber Trench 108 in the north and its western side was damaged by modern construction. The room was delimited in the south by a wall (W204) and a robber trench (W114), which reflected the continuation of the wall. It cannot be determined if this wall was built in the Ottoman (Stratum IB) or in the Mamluk (Stratum II) periods. A circular depression (diam. c. 1 m; Fig. 8), whose nature is unclear, was exposed in Floor 104, and just to its south was a plastered installation (L106; see Fig. 8), whose floor had only survived. The plaster along the edges of the installation’s floor scaled and apparently the sides of the installation were also plastered. The white plaster was of fine quality and it seems that the installation was used for liquids. It is feasible that the plastered installation and the round depression in the floor were used together in some activity or operation. The installation, and probably Floor 104 as well, were built on a foundation of fieldstones (L117) that abutted W204, which continued east below the top of the arch that was exposed in W200 (below). The southwestern part of the room was damaged by modern construction.
Stratum IA: The Late Ottoman Period (nineteenth–twentieth centuries CE)
The building from Stratum IB went out of use in this phase and a large structure was built on its ruins; a massive foundation wall (W200; length 10.1 m, width 0.6 m, min. height 3.4 m; Fig. 1: Section 1-1) was preserved of the new structure. The wall was exposed close to the southeastern boundary of the excavation, and it continued beyond its limits. It was built of fieldstones bonded with gray mortar, and at least three arches were installed alongside it, with broad pillars in-between (Fig. 9). A probe (depth 3.4 m) dug with the aid of a backhoe along the wall’s eastern side ascertained that W200 was built to a great depth. Several stones set in proper order, were noted at the bottom of the probe, but it is not clear if they were part of the wider bottom course of the wall, part of an ancient wall that underlay W200, or an ancient stone pavement. Two walls (W201, W202; not excavated), extending to the east beyond the limits of the excavation area, were probably perpendicular to W200, which severed Floors 102, 115, and 116; the continuation of Floor 102 was discovered beneath one of the arches, 10–15 cm below the top of the arch (see Fig. 3).
No other walls or floors connected to this wall were found; however, based on its length and depth, it is presumed to have been part of a large building that was at least two stories high. Foundation walls with integrated arches were common to Ottoman buildings in the nineteenth century CE. Similar structures were excavated in Yafo and Jerusalem and it has been ascertained that they were frequently built to a very great depth (HA-ESI 121
; HA-ESI 121
; HA-ESI 122
). This method of construction enabled to build deep foundations, which facilitated construction of buildings several stories high, while at the same time saving on building stones for the foundation.
Domestic pottery was recovered from the excavation, including bowls, glazed bowls, jugs, jars, cooking pots, and flasks, dating to the Abbasid (eighth–tenth centuries CE; Fig. 10), Mamluk (thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE; Fig.11) and Ottoman (fifteenth–twentieth centuries CE; Fig. 13) periods.
The pottery from the Abbasid period included a bowl decorated with incising, transparent glazing on a yellow slip on its rim, and transparent glazing on a green slip on the inside (Fig. 10:1); a bowl with transparent glazing on a green slip on the interior (Fig. 10:2); a glazed bowl with transparent glazing on a yellow slip, decorated with colored stripes (Fig. 10:3); a bowl decorated with incising, with green glaze on a yellow slip on the interior and yellow glaze on a brown slip on the exterior (Fig. 10:4); a base of a bowl with transparent glaze on a yellow slip on the interior and a brown glaze on the exterior (Fig. 10:5); a bowl decorated with incising, with brown glaze on a yellow slip on the interior and yellow glaze on a green slip on the exterior (Fig. 10:6); a glazed bowl with transparent glaze on a turquoise slip (Fig. 10:7); a zir (Fig. 10:8); a flask (Fig. 10:9); a bottle (Fig. 10:10) and a base of a jug that is glazed on the interior (Fig. 10:11).
The vessels from the Mamluk period included a bowl with green glaze on the interior and brown glaze, decorated with yellow stripes, on the exterior (Fig. 11:1); a bowl with a yellow on brown glaze on the interior and a polychrome glaze on the exterior of the rim (Fig. 11:2); a bowl decorated with incising and yellow-brown glaze (Fig. 11:3); a bowl glazed and decorated with incising on the interior (Fig. 11:4); a sgraffito bowl imported from Egypt, glazed yellow and decorated with incising (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE; Fig. 11:5); only a few examples of such bowls have been found in Israel to date; a frit ware bowl decorated in black on a turquoise slip, which was produced in Syria and Mesopotamia in the twelfth–fourteenth centuries CE (Fig. 11:6); an imported bowl from Italy that is glazed brown on the interior and exterior (Fig. 11:7); an imported bowl from Cyprus with incised decoration and a polychrome glaze on its interior (thirteenth century CE; Fig. 12); an unglazed bowl decorated with painted geometric patterns on a brown slip (Fig. 11:8); a large unglazed bowl with incised decoration on the exterior of the rim (Fig. 11:9); a cooking pot slipped red and burnished (Fig. 11:10); a deep krater (Fig. 11:11); a jug (Fig. 11:12) and a flask (Fig. 11:13). A decorated pomegranate was also found (Fig. 11:14).
The pottery vessels dating to the Ottoman period included a bowl (Fig. 13:1); base of a bowl (Fig. 13:2); a krater (Fig. 13:3); a black Gaza jar (Fig. 13:4) and a base of a jug (Fig. 13:5). In addition, five clay pipes were found; four are dated to the eighteenth century CE (Fig. 14:1–4) and one (Fig. 14:5) was in use in the second half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries CE
Fragments of glass vessels that dated to the Ottoman period were discovered in the excavation, among them the upper part of a conter-type cylindrical neck of a bottle with a narrow, unevenly rounded rim; two fragments of a translucent greenish blue glass bracelet, with a triangular cross-section, decorated with opaque glass trails of yellow, orange and black-white and turquoise patches (Fig. 15); a bottle fragment with a narrow rounded rim and a cylindrical neck; and a bottle with a rounded everted rim and a cylindrical neck.
Other finds included two beads: One is made of black stone with a prism-like polish of five facets per side and one is turquoise with a triangular cross-section and an orange trail inside it.
Three strata with architectural remains, dating from the Mamluk to the Ottoman periods, were revealed in the excavation. The early stratum was built on top of fill, intended to raise the level of the area. Walls and floors that were built in this stratum, had partially continued to be used in the middle stratum and only their floors were raised (the rooms in Sq 1), and some ceased to be used and were covered by the floor of the middle stratum (W203). In the second half of the nineteenth century CE, the building was dismantled and a large structure was erected on its ruins; surviving by a thick foundation wall that was built to a great depth and included at least three arches. Most of the ceramic finds dated to the Mamluk period but potsherds from the Abbasid and Ottoman periods were discovered as well. It was not ascertained if building remains from earlier periods had been located below the excavated strata.