In May 2019, an excavation was conducted in the auditorium compound in ‘Akko (Permit No. A-8522; map ref. 207367–445/759372–99; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by ‘Akko Municipality, was directed by J.A. Sánchez Streger, with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi and A. Lavan (administration), A. Kleiner (photography, surveying and photogrammetry), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing and plans), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), A. Shapiro (tobacco pipes; appendix), K. Covello-Paran (guidance), D. Syon and E. Stern (scientific consultation), G. Cinamon of the Israel Antiquities Authority Northern District and laborers from Majd el-Krum.
Three excavation squares (75 sq m) were opened, unearthing an Ottoman-period agricultural installation (L104; width 2 m; Figs. 2, 3). The installation consisted of an east–west-aligned fieldstone surface. The excavation encountered a marshy area in the eastern part of the installation (L103), as a consequence of which work was halted at that locus; it was already apparent while digging trial trenches prior to the excavation that the area was waterlogged, as they rapidly filled with groundwater. The excavation yielded a large quantity of pottery dating from the Ottoman period (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE). Much of the pottery is coated with hydraulic plaster, and the assemblage contains saqiye-jar fragments—both indicating the presence of a water-related installation. The pottery includes bowls (Fig. 4:1–6), a Kütahya Ware cup (Fig. 4:7), cooking pots (Fig. 4:8), a jar (Fig. 4:9) and a jug (Fig. 4:10); most of the ware is locally produced, and only some is imported. The excavation also yielded two pieces of glass (Gorin-Rosen, below) and fragments of clay tobacco pipes (see Appendix) dating from the Ottoman period.
The excavation area is documented on the 1799 Jacotin map
as a marshy area outside the Ottoman city wall. The British survey also marks the area to the north of the wall as marshland (Conder and Kitchener 1880: Fig. 3). Both these sources reinforce our interpretation of the installation uncovered in the excavation as water related. It may have served as a dam built to prevent flooding or possibly a wall between agricultural plots.
The excavation yielded two diagnostic glass fragments (not drawn). One is part of a thick, round windowpane (L105) with a hollow out-folded rim, made of poor-quality bluish green glass containing many bubbles. Round windowpanes with folded rims, like this pane, are usually associated with bathhouses from the Crusader–Ottoman periods. Thinner panes of a similar type were found in a Crusader bathhouse complex in ‘Akko, not far from the current excavation site (Gorin-Rosen 2013:111–113). Thick panes resembling the one found in the excavation have also been found in complexes dating from the Ottoman period.
The other fragment is part of a factory-made glass bottle (L104) made of dark green glass. The bottle is cylindrical, its base is pushed-in, and a rough scar surrounds the deep depression. Although the bottle was industrially manufactured, the inward depression on the base is a familiar characteristic of traditional, hand-blown ware. This feature may indicate that the fragment dates from early in the industrial production of bottles.
Conder C.R. and Kitchener H.H. 1880. Map of Western Palestine: From Surveys Conducted for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund during the Years 1872–1877. London.
Gorin-Rosen Y. 2013. Glass Finds from the Crusader-Period Bathhouse in ‘Akko (Acre). ‘Atiqot 73:109–116.
Stern E.J. 2016. The Ceramic Finds from the Ottoman Flour Mills in the Ridwan Gardens, ‘Akko. ‘Atiqot 87:83–96.