During October 2010, a trial excavation was carried out in Khan esh-Shawarda in Old ‘Akko (Permit No. A-5867; map ref. 20697–703/75858–62; Fig. 1), for the purpose of planning a new pavement. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Old ‘Akko Development Company, Ltd., was directed by E. Stern and H. Abu ‘Uqsa-‘Abud, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), A. Shapiro (surveying) and E. Belashov (drafting).
Khan esh-Shawarda, located in the northeastern corner of the Old City of ‘Akko, is a merchants’ inn of the Ottoman period that was built during the rule of Ahmed Al-Jazzar (1775–1804). The khan, a single story warehouse, is built around an open square courtyard, and a sabil (a public drinking facility) is built in the middle of the courtyard. At the time of the excavation, the courtyard was paved with asphalt on top of soil fill. An excavation area was opened (c. 25 sq m) for the purpose of ascertaining if an earlier pavement was preserved, prior to planning the a new pavement.
The excavation was carried out around the sabil in the middle of the khan (Fig. 2). The octagonal sabil is built of dressed kurkar ashlars (length of each side c. 1.2 m). After removing the asphalt (elevation 5.38 m above sea level), a layer of soil fill (thickness c. 0.1 m) that contained scrap metal, plastic, beverage cans and fragments of pottery vessels from recent decades, was excavated. Below this layer, the foundation of the sabil was exposed. The foundation is an octagonal-built surface, matching the shape of the sabil, only wider. It consists of a frame built of partially hewn kurkar ashlars filled with fieldstones and mortar made of orange sand and white lime. The excavation continued beyond the borders of the sabil’s foundation (depth 0.2 m) until a layer of tamped earth was discovered, upon which the sabil was constructed. A row of stones that was incorporated in the foundation’s northeastern side was revealed. These are probably covering slabs for the water pipe that led to the sabil, although no pipe or other installation was discovered beneath the row of stones.
No evidence of an earlier pavement was found in trial trenches that were dug by means of a small backhoe throughout the entire area of the khan. The excavated fill (to a depth of 0.5 m below the surface) contained fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Ottoman period, mainly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries CE. Sewer pipes built of stone and dating to the Ottoman period were discovered below this layer; the pipes were not excavated.
Remains of a circular pool (diam. 3.2 m) were discovered c. 4 m northeast of the sabil, directly beneath the asphalt pavement. The pool, built of partially dressed kurkar stones, was plastered on the inside. The bottom part of the pool was conserved and its upper part was restored. This pool served to water pack animals and was supplied with water from the adjacent sabil (Figs. 3, 4).
It turns out that the habitation level of the khan from the time of the Ottoman period until the present day was approximately the level of the fill that was excavated and consisted of only tamped soil. The asphalt surface was paved by the ‘Akko municipality several years ago.
Winter P.H. 1944. Preservation and Reconstruction of Acre – Survey and Report, Vol. 3. Jerusalem.