Buildings and installations that were discovered in the current excavation resembled those previously excavated nearby. The buildings are characterized by simple but massive construction and the multitude of water and sewage installations include wells, plastered water cisterns, built as barrel vaults and cesspits that are distinguished by a barrel vault, walls built of small stones without plaster and the lack of a floor.
The walls are built of indigenous kurkar stone; doorjambs, pillars for supporting arches and special installations are constructed from ashlars and the rest—from dressed stones of various degrees of quality. The construction generally consisted of straight courses and small stone wedges were sometimes inserted between them for leveling. Mortar was used between the stones in most of the walls and plaster was applied to their outer faces. Some of the walls were built of two stone rows with a core of soil or mortar and small stones (debesh).
The neighborhood had apparently undergone many changes throughout its existence, including the raising of floor levels, adding walls and partitions, abolishing parts of buildings and blocking openings. It is noteworthy that despite the adherence to quality construction, the builders did not persevere in maintaining right angles, where walls abutted each other or when a pillar separated parts of the same wall.
Crusader remains were found partly covered with collapsed buildings and partly with a layer of clean windblown beach sand (thickness up to 1.5 m). Remains of agricultural activity dating to the Ottoman period were found close to surface and included terracotta pipes in stone-lined channels that intersected the area and each other. It is obvious that the pipes were used for a long time and once no longer in use, were superseded by others.
Area A (Fig. 3). Two intersecting walls that preceded the Crusader period and probably dated to the Early Islamic period were discovered. Several buildings were constructed above and around these walls in the thirteenth century CE. Initially, a large structure was probably built, perhaps a public one, which consisted of massive walls, an engaged pillar and a plastered underground water reservoir that leaned against the earlier wall. It is clearly visible how much effort was invested in preparing the foundation for the pillar: a deep pit was cut alongside the earlier wall and a wide foundation that tapered upward was built. Several of the building’s walls, probably the exterior ones, were built of ashlars, which had partially survived and were looted (below).
After a period of time, perhaps due to partial collapse, the building had undergone structural changes. Part of it was apparently converted to a residential structure and a room in its southern part was closed off around a well, whose bottom part was bedrock hewn (Fig. 4). The well may have been built in the first phase of the building, yet this is not certain. The room had a fine threshold and a staircase, which also included a threshold and may have led to an upper floor. A street or an alley, oriented east–west, had apparently crossed in front of the steps and separated the building with the well from a building with the cistern.
A shaft that led to an unexcavated cesspit was discerned in a small section of a relatively poor structure, exposed in the northern part of the area. Activity that dated to the Early Ottoman period (probably the end of the seventeenth century CE), based on the earliest known type of clay pipes, was discerned in this area for the first time; a more thorough examination of the pottery vessels is required to confirm this dating. Meager stone partitions, built of fieldstones without mortar and laid in straight and curved sections at the top of the Crusader walls and sometimes connected to them, were discerned in this stratum (Fig. 5), as well as disturbances in the sand layering that appeared as lens-shaped concentrations of soil. The robbing of ashlars should probably be ascribed to this period.
Area B (Fig. 6). Two complexes were excavated. The first, located in an area slated to be a semi-open space in the future building, contained a system of clay pipes that had various diameters. These were the remains of the irrigation system in the gardens and orchards that existed from the eighteenth until the twentieth centuries CE. The pipes were set within stone walls, which may have been open channels, converted to pipe conduits (Fig. 7). The space between the pipes and the stone sides of the conduits was filled with an extremely hard orange mortar and the stones themselves were placed on a foundation of the same material. Some of the pipes were severed by others, indicating changes that were made to the irrigation system and its maintenance. A stone with a round perforation was discovered along one of the pipes. The hole was blocked with a stone plug that was probably meant to release air from the pipe.
The second complex included a spacious hall (min. dimensions 5.5 × 9.0 m) that was not completely excavated. Four pillars were exposed; panel walls and an arched opening were built between them. The pillars and the arch were constructed from ashlars, whereas the walls were built of dressed stones. The arched opening was found blocked with construction of poor quality and after the opening was sealed, all the walls were plastered. The pillars supported a system of vaults, possibly cross-vaults, which did not survive. The floor of the building consisted of fired bricks arranged in various patterns (Fig. 8). Only parts of the floor survived and where some of the bricks were missing, their impressions were discerned in the lime bedding. A probe excavated in the floor revealed that the brick floor was not the original floor of the structure. Collapse that consisted of numerous building stones, many showing the remains of plaster, was found below it. The original floor of the building was not found. Potsherds dating to the Early Islamic period were gathered from the bottom of the probe. Remains of thick plaster, in which groups of notches were incised in a palm tree pattern, were noted on the outer side of the northern wall (Fig. 9).
The hall was undoubtedly part of a public building and as a preliminary conclusion, it is suggested that this was a ‘neighborhood’ church, one of some forty that are mentioned in ‘Akko in the thirteenth century CE. It was probably constructed at the end of the twelfth century CE and was renovated after the building had partially collapsed. It should be noted that a brick floor in a Crusader building in Israel had been discovered here for first time and it seems to reflect a European tradition.
A space divided by a double arch, which was only partially exposed and its use not ascertained, was discerned to the west of the hall. A partially collapsed vaulted cesspit whose opening was adjacent to the northern wall was discovered below its floor. A built gutter that contained a ceramic pipe (diam. c. 0.25 m), probably for draining rainwater from the building’s roof into the cesspit, which was only partly excavated, was in the corner of the space. Remains of intense fire inside and above the cesspit allude to the remains of a wooden roof, which also served as a floor for the story above it. Samples from the cesspit were sent for analysis of parasites and organic materials.
Area C (Fig. 10). This entire area is intended to be an open space in the future building. Part of a residential building, apparently a covered courtyard, was exposed. Engaged pillars, which bore an arch that supported the roof, were discovered in the eastern and western walls. The courtyard was partly paved with stones, upon which two stone basins, used for domestic work, were set. Evidence of intense fire on the courtyard’s floor and a large quantity of nails probably represent the remains of a wooden roof that also served as the floor of an upper story. Smooth lumps of plaster had probably also fallen from the second-story floor. A square shaft built of ashlars in the courtyard’s northern wall led from the upper story to the cesspit below the courtyard’s floor. Another smaller and carelessly built shaft was in the northwestern corner and a slide inside it led to a different cesspit located west of the courtyard. This cesspit, which had a partially caved-in vault, was excavated in its entirety. Fragments of a large marble slab, decorated with floral patterns in high relief, were incorporated in the repairs that had been made to the shaft, leading to the cesspit.
An opening that included a threshold and remains of doorjambs was discovered in the courtyard’s western wall. The opening accessed the courtyard via a built step and another step that was a round column fragment in secondary use.
Another, slightly larger cesspit, located north of the courtyard, was overlain with large flagstones that were apparently part of a street and bore signs of wear. This was apparently a public sewer that drained rainwater from the street. A circular stone-built shaft of possibly a well (not excavated) was located in the northern wall of the courtyard, between the cesspit below the courtyard’s floor and the public sewer (Fig. 11). The intense concentration of cesspits is characteristic of ‘Akko, but such close proximity of a well to cesspits is not; therefore, it is assumed that the well was no longer in use prior to the construction of the cesspits.
Another shaft that led to a built and plastered cistern, which extended east of the shaft, was located c. 2 m north of the public cesspit. The cistern was documented and measured, although not excavated.
A pillared hall was situated east of the covered courtyard. The hall’s eastern and western walls were initially built of well-constructed pillars, coated with plaster on all sides and supporting a vault; later, the gaps between the pillars were filled with relatively inferior construction (Fig. 12). The western pillared wall, probably after the gaps were blocked, was built 'back to back' with the eastern wall of the covered courtyard, thereby making it an especially wide wall.
Parts of walls, partitions, blocked arches and openings, whose plan was not ascertained, were exposed west of the cistern. At any rate, it seems that in a late phase of the thirteenth century CE extensive changes were made to the area, which included canceling parts of buildings and raising the level of the public area with fill that contained thousands of potsherds and animal bones and covered some of these structures. This fill was so high in the corner of the area that it seems this place was used as a refuse dump.
A probe excavated below the level of the building remains uncovered remains from the Hellenistic period that only consisted of potsherds below the Crusader construction.
The excavation yielded enormous quantities of pottery and glass vessels. Numerous vessels, many complete and even intact, were discovered in the cesspits, in which vessels that had broken due to everyday use were discarded. Noteworthy among the glass vessels is a mosque lamp decorated in gold and the outstanding ceramic vessels include an intact glazed lamp, glazed bowls decorated with a multitude of patterns and a Celadon-type bowl from China, bearing a fish in relief. As usual in the case of excavations at ‘Akko, the pottery vessels represent practically the entire world with which the Crusaders maintained contact, namely the Crusader states in the Levant, Cyprus, Italy, France, Spain, North Africa, Syria and China.
Almost fifty coins were discovered, most of which are thin Crusader coins made of silver slag (deniers), as well as contemporary Muslim coins that were used by the Crusaders. A relatively small number of stone mortars were found, compared to previous excavations. Noteworthy among the small finds are the arrowheads, a small silver ring with a red inlaid stone, a small cross of mother-of-pearl and a remarkably well-preserved lead bulla that originated in Venice between the years 1229–1249 CE (Fig. 13). In addition, a marble plaque fragment with an inscription that apparently mentioned the name and title of a nobleman was discovered.
A somewhat surprising find was the enormous amount of iron nails gathered from almost all the excavation areas (c. 20 kg!). The large numbers of collected animal bones are likely to provide details about the population’s diet.