The current excavation took place in a residential unit in the southern row of rooms that surrounds the courtyard. The room (2.95 × 5.88 m; Figs. 3, 4) has a cross-vaulted ceiling, two entrances—one still in use and one blocked—in its northern wall and two blocked windows in its southern wall. Its original pavement (L1), made of highly worn hard nari limestone slabs, was preserved only in the western part of the room. Near the eastern edge of the pavement were the shallow remains (depth 1 cm) of a row of postholes—generally aligned north–south—that probably anchored in place a series of metal bars that belong to some type of installation. A shallow L-shaped channel was hewn into the west part of the stone pavement, possibly the remains of another installation. Both installations were probably installed during the Ottoman period, when the place served as a prison, but they were later removed.
The excavation (c. 9 sq m) focused on the eastern part of the room, where the nari slabs were replaced with smaller, sultani tiles, possibly during the late Ottoman period. Bellow the tiles was a layer of ancient concrete (L4; 0.15–0.20 m thick) mixed with small stones, which served as a bedding for the stone slabs. The concrete was laid over a fill (L10) of large stones. Both Bedding 4 and Fill 10 abutted a wall (W3; Fig. 5), which ran north–south across the room.
Wall 3, originally covered by Pavement 1, was one of a series of foundation walls that support the Mamluk-period structure. These include a massive wall (W6) below the northern wall of the room, and a similar, parallel wall (W11) that supports the southern wall of the room, which is part of the exterior wall of the complex. Wall 3 comprises a lower course of flat, elongated stones arranged as headers in a low and wide arch-like construction (Fig. 6), which is set on another foundation wall (W7; Fig. 7). Seeking to understand the function of W3, some of the modern plaster coating the walls of the room was removed (Fig. 8). As no indication could be found for a wall that was carried by W3 and divided the room along a north–south axis, the unusual arched construction of W3 and its foundation (W7) seem to have had a different purpose. It can be postulated that they served to counter-force the massive foundation walls that ran perpendicular to them—W6 and W11—thus helping to distribute the weight of the upper structure. A probe (1.0 × 1.5 m, 2.5–3.0 m deep) indicated that all three foundation walls (W6, W11 and W3/W7) extend a great depth into a massive constructive fill (L9) composed of a homogeneous dark brown soil with a small quantity of medium-sized fieldstones, which yielded Mamluk pottery sherds.
The archaeological inspection in the neighboring room to the west, which was conducted following a report on damage caused to antiquities, indicated that the original paving slabs of theroomwere removed, exposing earlier remains. These included the edge of the southern foundation wall of the unit and another wall built of rather large stones, possibly part of a drainage system (Fig. 9). Due to the limited exposure and the absence of small finds in the disturbed fills, the walls could not be dated. Nevertheless, the inspection confirmed that the unit is not part of the al-Rabat al-Mansouri complex, but rather part of a neighbouring structure flanking the complex on the west.
The excavation adds complementary archaeological data that will help in understanding the development of Medieval building technics and, even more importantly, in reconstructing the complex picture of the Mamluk architectural activity in Jerusalem. The remains uncovered in this excavation—the deep foundation walls, the arched construction of W3 and the massive construction fill—are part of the impressive work of urban transformation undertaken in the city by the Mamluk rulers: the Tyropoeon valley (el-Wad) was filled up, allowing for the construction on leveled ground of the first public buildings of the future Muslim Quarter.