In September 2018, an Ottoman drainage channel was documented inside a building at 4, Shim‘on ha-Burseka’i Street in Yafo (map ref. 176618/662363) during inspection of the building’s renovation and restoration. The inspection, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was conducted by D. Abu Salah, with the assistance of L. Rauchberger (field documentation and photography), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), F. Milstein (scientific consultation and drafting), N. Beyman (photographic archives), A. de Vincenz (pottery reading), Y. Tepper (scientific guidance) and A. Karasik.
The building is located on the slopes of Tel Yafo in the southwestern part of the Old City (Figs. 1, 2). It was built in the style of a courtyard house in the late Ottoman period and used as a residence until 2016, when it was vacated. The building was part of a cluster of buildings damaged by British forces in Operation Anchor in 1936. Following the destruction, the building’s urban context was transformed from a typical house in the kasbah of Yafo to a building bordering on open parking lots to the south and northeast, along with other buildings in Kedumim Square (Berger-Onn and Milstein 2017:2).
The Drainage Channel. A channel (length c. 16.5 m, inner width 0.27 m, depth 0.2 m; Figs. 3, 4) built of fieldstones and roofed with kurkar slabs (0.06 × 0.50 × 0.50 m) was unearthed in the building’s ground floor. The channel is coated with gray plaster mixed with crushed shells and charcoal pieces. It slopes down from the southeast (Room 2) to the northwest (patio and lobby), beneath the stair landing and into Mazzal Qeshet Street.
The Finds. Room 3 yielded imported and local pottery dating from the late Ottoman period (eighteenth–early twentieth centuries CE) from beneath the floor. The imported ware includes slip-painted bowls (Fig. 5:1–3), Çanakkale bowls (Fig. 5:4, 5), a marmorizzata bowl (Fig. 5:6), a green-glazed bowl from Turkey or Greece (Fig. 6:1), a hardpaste bowl, probably from England (Fig. 6:2), a hand-painted porcelain bowl from Europe (Fig. 6:3) and a coffee cup made by the Meissen porcelain factory with a vegetal design on its base (Fig. 6:4). The local ware includes a bowl (Fig. 7:1), a jar (Fig. 7:2) and Black Gaza Ware: a bowl (Fig. 7:3), a jug (briq; Fig. 7:4) and an oil lamp (Fig. 7:5).
The channel was probably a drainage channel. A similar channel was found on the ground floor of a building at 19, Mazzal Arye Street, also dated to the late Ottoman period (Bouchenino, Golan and Elad 2018). The ceramic finds from the building provide a picture similar to that seen at previous excavations in Yafo, attesting to extensive trade relations between Yafo, the Ottoman Empire and Europe.
Berger-Onn H. and Milstein F. 2017. IAA Internal Documentation File—4 Ha-Burseka’i Street, Old Yafo (Hebrew).
Bouchenino A., Golan D. and Elad I. 2018. Yafo, Mazzal Arye. HA-ESI 130.