Phase III. Scant remains of a wall (W222) and a floor (L217) were revealed in the earliest construction phase, in the center of the excavation area. The wall was built of medium-sized and small fieldstones, and the floor, of plaster, was partially preserved. Habitation levels (L169) were discovered in a section in the southeastern part of the excavation area, beneath the alley in Phase II (below), perhaps indicating that the alley already existed during this phase.
Phase II. Most of the remains discovered in the excavation were attributed to this phase. An alley, flanked on both sides by buildings (1 and 2; Fig. 3), was discovered in the southeast portion of the area. Only a small part of Building 1 was uncovered, whereas an extensive portion of Building 2 was found, extending across most of the excavation area.
The alley between Buildings 1 and 2 (L126; width c. 2 m, exposed length c. 10 m) was built in a general northeast–southwest direction; its floor was of plaster mixed with small stones. This floor was preserved mainly in the southern and northern parts of the alley, which was in use until the 1950s.
Most of Building 1 extended beyond the limits of the excavation. The walls of the structure (W131, W235; Fig. 4) were built of two rows of well-dressed limestone blocks and a fill of medium-sized and small fieldstones and were preserved to a height of two to three courses. The wall foundations consisted of medium-sized and small fieldstones and were dug into brown earth that characterizes the excavation area. A pillar that apparently supported an arch that held up the room’s ceiling was constructed at the point where the walls met.
Building 2 was erected in a general northeast–southwest direction (Fig. 5). Its walls were built of large, well-dressed stones and medium-sized and small fieldstones. The wall foundations were built of large and medium-sized limestone blocks, sometimes wider than the walls themselves, in order to provide stability to the structure. The walls were treated with white plaster; some of them are coated with several layers of plaster, evidence of regular maintenance of the building. The building consisted of a large central courtyard and ten rooms (1–10), and continued to the north, east and south, beyond the excavation area. A light-pink colored plaster floor (L210) was discovered in the courtyard, whose foundation was of small stones bonded with mortar. The building’s rooms were covered with collapsed stones and earth. Light-pink colored plaster floors were exposed in some of the rooms. A drainage system was discovered in Room 2, north of the central courtyard. It apparently conveyed rainwater from the roofs of the rooms (L187; Fig. 6) by means of a terracotta pipe to a channel that drained into an underground cistern. Changes were noted in the building’s construction; the rooms were enlarged or reduced by adding or removing walls and renovating the floors. Several floors were built one above the other in a number of rooms. In the northern part of the excavation area was a circular pit, dug in the ground and lined with medium-sized and small partially dressed limestone blocks (L168; Fig. 7). An accumulation of brown soil inside the pit contained fragments of pottery vessels, dating to the Late Ottoman period, as well as glassware, coins and animal bones. This was apparently a cesspit.
Phase I. Meager remains, consisting primarily of sections of a floor, were ascribed to the last phase. This floor was dated to the end of the Ottoman period and the time of the British Mandate based on a coin that was discovered while dismantling it.
The excavation revealed remains of buildings from the late Ottoman period. Based on historical information, as well as maps, aerial photographs and excavations in the vicinity (Gadot, Cytryn-Silverman and De‘adle 2008)
, it seems that during the late Ottoman period, the excavation area constituted part of the city center. The principal public institutions, such as religious structures (a church and mosque), a khan (Khan al-H
ilu), a marketplace and important industrial buildings (a soap factory, an oil press etc.), were concentrated in the center. Apparently, the structures discovered in the excavation were houses in one of the city’s residential neighborhoods.