It was noted before the excavation that the limekiln had been well preserved. The excavation completely exposed the central firing chamber, the built conduit, and the surrounding support walls (see Fig. 2).
The oval central firing camber(2.5×3.0 m, depth 1.3 m) is surrounded and defined by Wall 1 (max. preserved height 1.3 m; Fig. 3). This wall was partially built of small fieldstones and partially hewn into the bedrock. The firing chamber was filled with a mixture of jumbled burnt limestone fieldstones, crushed lime, and charcoal. An additional curving wall (W5) was built upon the floor of the chamber, lined by a layer of ash and soot. Wall 5, built of particularly small stones parallel to W1, was only preserved in the northern part of the chamber. This wall, probably not built for constructional purposes, was rather part of the stones loaded into the kiln for firing. Carved at the base of the central and western area in the chamber, were a small depression (depth 0.2 m) and a narrow channel, connecting to the conduit, which would have allowed for air circulation during firing (Fig. 4).
The conduit consists of two parallel walls (W3, W4) that create a narrow passageway, strategically making use of voids in large boulders upon the surface (Fig. 5). The passage, leading to the firing chamber, was covered in the east by four large rectangular slabs. At the connection of the passage to the firing chamber, the bedrock dips down, leading to a rectangular ventilation window (0.25×0.40) built within W1. This window, along with an additional window of identical size built higher up, would have allowed air to circulate within the chamber during the limekiln’s operation (see Fig. 4).
Another wall that encircled the kiln’s central chamber (W2) was built to provide support for the kiln’s assumed domed superstructure. A reddish soil construction fill was excavated in the space between W1 and W2. In addition, W2 was set directly upon the bedrock in most areas and was preserved to a maximum of five courses. Two walls (W6, W7), built on a diagonal connecting to W1 in the westernsection of this wall, delineated and formed a platform above the conduit roofing slabs. This platform would allow for the loading of combustible material needed during the kiln’s ignition.
The superstructure of the limekiln was not preserved and its shape can only be estimated to have been domed. It is noteworthy that the limekiln’s conduit, located to the west of the central chamber, did not make use of natural wind currents and drafts. Apparently, the limekiln may have relied solely upon a sufficient pull of air generated from the heat inside the firing chamber.
The excavated limekiln seems to be one of many limekilns operating in unison during the Ottoman period. The ceramic assemblage from the excavation was composed of mostly badly worn potsherds from the Byzantine period, almost all collected from the surface surrounding the limekiln. As no datable remains were recovered from sound stratigraphic contexts, the date of the kiln may be inferred only from the other limekilns excavated in the area. The kilns were most probably operated by the inhabitants of the nearby Beit Nattif village. They were located on the periphery of the village, so that the smoke generated would not trouble the villagers. It may be that the concentration of limekilns in the area correlated to a rise in demand for processed lime, used mostly for plaster, during the ottoman period.