The structure (6 × 7 m; Figs. 2, 3) was constructed on a slope, and was partially dug into the soil. The walls (W102–W105, W108; width 0.6 m) were built of field-stones of various sizes as well as dressed stones; they were preserved to a maximum height of seven courses (2 m). The opening of the structure was located along the northeastern wall (W105), slightly off-center (Fig. 4). The floor (L110) was made of beaten earth. No roof remains were found; therefore, it is possible that the roof was made of perishable material. The base of wall 102 does not reach the floor (Fig. 5), a clear indication that the structure was first dug into the soil, and the walls were added later. Wall 108 incorporated large, dressed limestone blocks. This wall almost collapsed due to the pressure of the soil on the exterior of the structure. A short interior partition wall (W111; length 1.5 m, width 0.6 m, preserved height c. 1.3 m; Fig. 6) abutted W103; it does not appear to extend the full height of the structure. The wall may have been built to separate the public space of the structure from the private space.
. The potsherds were found on the floor and dated from the late Ottoman and British Mandate periods. They belong to the black Gaza ware tradition, which appeared probably at the beginning of the 1700s and continued to be produced until the 1970s (Israel 2006
:7); most black Gaza wares are found in contexts that belong to the first half of the twentieth century. The potsherds from the excavation include a bowl (Fig 7:1), a briq
(Fig. 7:2) and a jar (Fig. 7:3). In addition, a couple of red potsherds with a painted decoration in red were found (Fig. 7:4); these were most probably produced locally. The potsherds were found on the floor of the structure together with cartridges from World War I (below). Thus, one can assume that the pottery dates from the beginning of the twentieth century.
Jewelry. Three small, round and colorful stone beads (Fig. 8) were found on the floor near the opening of the structure. They were probably part of a necklace. One of the stone beads broke into several pieces after it was discovered.
Iron objects. Several iron objects that date from the late Ottoman period were found. They were probably used by the people who lived in the structure. Some objects were poorly preserved, and could not be identified. The recognizable finds include a door key (Fig. 9:1), found on the floor near the opening, a sickle (Fig. 9:2), a large chisel for stone quarrying (length 0.28 m; Fig. 10) and a bit (Fig. 11), a horse tack piece, which is placed in the mouth of a horse or mule and allows the rider to direct the animal. A similar object is found in the Eretz Israel Museum collection (MHW58.2016).
. Two spent shell cartridges were found on the floor of the structure, near the opening. Both date from World War I; they may have been left in the structure during the British conquest of Be’er Sheva‘ in 19 17. The first is a 9.5 mm cartridge of a 1887 Mauser rifle (Fig. 12:1), which was manufactured in the Ottoman Empire. The production date is engraved in Arabic: H 1328/1910 CE. The second is a Mauser 7.92 ×
57 mm cartridge (Fig. 12:2), manufactured by Koenigliche Munitionsfabriken in Spandau, Germany in April 1917 (White and Burton 1963
:179, Item 1616). German Mauser bullets were used by the Turkish forces. The primer of this cartridge was struck twice, and the neck was crushed; it is hard to say if the firing of this bullet was attempted twice or if it was left on the battlefield and reused later.
Be’er Sheva‘ was founded c. 1900 by the Ottomans, and was taken by the British troops in a surprise operation, attacking from south, during the third attempt at Gaza at the end of October 1917 (Grainger 2006
:122). As the excavated structure is located c. 2 km south of the Ottoman town, it is likely to have been along or nearby the attack route of the British troops. No direct indication of destruction during a battle, such as a fire or shelling, was found in the structure. However, based on the finds, especially the cartridges and the door key, discovered close to the opening, one can assume that the structure was left in haste and was later destroyed. All the dateable objects found in the structure predate the October 1917 battle. The cartridge produced in April 1917 in Germany may well have been used by Turks in Palestine in October 1917.