The Crusader period (twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE)
Previous excavations along the eastern limits of the Flea Market (HA-ESI 118
, HA-ESI 120
), had exposed a city wall of the thirteenth century CE with a narrow passage protected by turrets. These structures may have been part of the fortifications erected by King Louis IX in the early 1250s. The inner twelfth century CE defense system, described and discussed in the historical records of the numerous warfare and siege occasions, remained undetected. Archaeological remains relating to these defenses came to light in the excavations at the harbor (HA-ESI 121
) and the adjacent northern promenade (HA-ESI
111), at the grounds of the former St. Joseph Hospital (Permit No. A-5170) and possibly also where Yehuda Ha-Yammit Street meets with the harbor complex (Permit No. A-5365).
An additional defensive element was exposed at the intersection of Ha-Z
orfim and ‘Ami‘ad Streets (Fig. 5). It consisted of a slightly tilted solid stone wall (W529; exposed length 4 m, preserved height 1.7 m; see Fig. 3), which was built of roughly cut stones (average 0.25×0.45 m). This wall exceeded in strength, solidity and stone size anything noted in the typical dwellings of this period in Yafo. Assuming this to be a continuous fortification line, its northeastern extension would have reached the seafront, while the southwestern part would have met the grounds of the former St. Joseph Hospital, where Crusader defenses have been positively identified. The Crusader occupations discovered at the Ganor complex (HA-ESI 121
), the Qishle (HA-ESI 121
) and the Flea Market compound (HA-ESI 118
) would have been outside its perimeter. These new quarters were left unfortified until the building campaign of Louis IX during the thirteenth century CE.
The relatively narrow width (c. 0.8 m) and slight tilting of the wall suggests a stone-studded eastern bank of a defensive moat, dug in front of the actual battlements.
Non-defensive Crusader architecture included poorly preserved parts of domestic structures at Ha-Peninim (Fig. 6, see W253, W254 and W261 in Fig. 2) and Abul‘afiya Streets, a small yard flanked by small structures, two parallel walls with a basin and a pillar base, preserved in situ (Fig. 7, see W619 and W621 in Fig. 3), and an arched doorway at Ha-Halfanim Street, near the Ottoman-gate complex. The Crusader wall was evidently cut by a large late Ottoman wall (W1012 in Fig. 4).
The Gap (fourteenth–eighteenth centuries CE)
Numerous historical records and artistic illustrations attest to the abandonment of Jaffa between the early fourteenth until the later part of the seventeenth centuries CE, owing to Mamluk and Ottoman strategies aimed at denying the Crusaders future maritime bridgeheads. Resettlement in Jaffa began during the seventeenth century CE, with the granting of permission to Christian institutions to build monasteries and pilgrim hostels. The building activity had spread from the vicinity of the harbor to the mound. The grounds of the present Ha-Zorfim Street and subsidiary alleys were re-inhabited no earlier than the mid-nineteenth century CE.
Thick layers of wind-blown sand reached the mound and the lower city during the period of abandonment. Sand layers were discovered in various spots along Ha-Zorfim Street and its adjacent alleys, caught between late Ottoman and medieval layers (Fig. 8). The sand appears in thin fine horizons that are characteristic of long term, wind blown accumulation. The sand layers are mostly sterile, unlike the plethora of finds in the enveloping strata.
The Late Ottoman period (nineteenth–twentieth centuries CE)
Lieutenant Skyring’s 1842 British Admiralty map shows the area within the eastern Ottoman wall vacant of buildings and the declining topography toward the northeast is clearly delineated. Two decades later, the Bedford British Military map reveals the fast development of Jaffa, whereby the same area appears to be densely built. Bedford’s map is the earliest in which Ha-Zorfim Street is marked. The street plan looks much as it does in Sandel’s map of 1878 and at present. The excavations added significant details to the street’s development history.
The arched foundations of several large buildings that dated to the later part of the nineteenth century CE were discovered along the northwestern bank of the street, which was unusually wide, straight and long, contrary to the winding alleys and culs-de-sac within the urban core of Ottoman Jaffa. Other buildings from the same period remained standing almost to their original height (Fig. 9, see W465, W513 and W518 in Fig. 3). The reasons for preserving some structures and dismantling others stem from obscure decisions of local developments rather than from following a master plan. The extant structures and the foundations of the demolished ones represent construction that significantly departed from the traditional domed houses of Ottoman Jaffa’s urban core. Roughly cut stones were used in the construction of the buildings’ arched foundations, while the upper courses consisted of relatively small dressed kurkar stones, bound with a compact plaster mixture. Large and finely cut limestone blocks were fitted in the frames of the doorways.
The best-preserved example of a building whose plan was partially discerned was exposed in the central segment of the street, c. 20 m southwest of its intersection with ‘Ami‘ad Street (see Fig. 3). The foundation of the southeastern wall (W518; length 8.5 m) was revealed, as well as the tiled floors of two rooms that were almost perfectly preserved. The room adjacent to the main entrance by the southwestern end of the building was paved with red and white tiles (Fig. 10). The flanking walls (width 0.7 m), built of dressed kurkar blocks, were consolidated with hard plaster. The floor of the neighboring northeastern chamber was paved with red ceramic tiles, marked with stamps of a French manufacturer. Some gray cement tiles were randomly incorporated in the floor, probably during later mending.
The walls of this room (W512, W513 and W518) were coated with red-painted plaster, as common to Jaffa’s dwellings of that time. The chamber’s corners were exceptionally thick, supporting the weight of the vaulted ceiling.
Another tiled floor was discovered at the intersection of ‘Ami‘ad and Ha-Zorfim Streets (see Fig. 3; L457). It belonged to a different building whose other parts could not be exposed. The black and white tiles were laid in a checkered arrangement. A large structure at this spot in the late nineteenth century CE indicates that ‘Ami‘ad street, which is presently broad enough to link motor traffic between Ha-Zorfim and Yefet Streets, was originally a narrow pedestrian alleyway.
The remains of another large structure of the same period were found at the southwestern section of Ha-Zorfim Street (see Fig. 2). A large part of one of its inner spaces was cleared. The walls (W156, W157) and floor (L124) were coated with white plaster. A well-preserved shaft connected to a stone-lined cesspool was found roughly at the center of that room (see below). A comprehensive plan of the building could not be achieved.
Several large Ottoman walls (width 0.8 m), founded on arches, were discovered at the northeastern part of the street (see W1012, L1044 and L1052 in Fig. 4). These substantial walls may have been part of the city-gate complex. At some stage, probably during the mid-nineteenth century CE, parts of the walls were dismantled and an ironsmith workshop operated near the surviving remains (Fig. 11). Several cannon balls, fragmentary or intact, were found in its related industrial ash, suggesting recycling activity.
Dense fill was intentionally amassed during the late Ottoman period, probably to form a more moderate topographic decline that would ease the architectural exploitation of this part of the city. The foundations of nineteenth century CE buildings were sunk into that fill, as was a new sophisticated drain system that consisted of a main northeast-southwest artery (width 0.5 m, depth 0.8 m), fed by perpendicular northwestern conduits (width 0.4 m, depth 0.5 m). Most of the drain system was composed of frames that were built of roughly dressed or undressed stones, consolidated with plaster and roofed over with beach-rock slabs (Fig. 12). A segment of the artery (length c. 25 m) and one of the feeding secondary conduits had vaulted roofs, built of materials similar of those of the frames. This drain system apparently underwent significant renovations during its later phases.
The northeastern extremity of Ha-Zorfim Street contained the fragmentary remains of several drain systems, including a partially preserved vaulted channel, reminiscent of the one mentioned above. An identically built channel was discovered at the adjacent Ha-Halfanim alley. These channels probably represented the latest phase of installing the Ottoman infrastructure, most likely dating to the early twentieth century CE.
A badly preserved vaulted cesspool was discovered in the southwestern part of Ha-Zorfim Street, having suffered extensive damage by modern pipelines and other infrastructures. An additional vault (L174), attached to the fragmentary remains of another, was found near the intersection between Ha-Zorfim and Ha-Peninim Streets (see Fig. 2). The vault to the southwest was perfectly preserved while the roof of the northeastern vault and part of its walls had collapsed. The vaults’ inner walls were lined with dressed stones. The sole access was through a square opening built into the crown of the ceiling. The vaults were filled with soil, which was partly removed and contained finds, which included many relatively modern metal scrap and broken glass bottles, as well as several parts of architectural marble elements, including fragments of an Arabic inscription that dated to the late nineteenth–early twentieth centuries CE. The vaults, which in light of the earthen floor and lack of wall plastering, must have served as cesspools, were probably filled in when the surrounding buildings were destroyed and the modern street was paved.
Two other vaulted cesspools were discovered at Ha-Peninim and Abul‘afiya Streets respectively. Their inner walls were lined with fieldstones; roughly cut stones and plaster was used for the roofing and dirt floors. While the vault at Ha-Peninim Street had lost most of its roofing, the Abul‘afiya Street structure survived intact (Fig. 13, see Fig. 3). Unlike the vaults at Ha-Zorfim Street, the Abul‘afiya vault was entered via a square opening built into its southeastern wall. Waste water drained into it through two shafts in its northwestern roof. Curved roofing discovered under the modern asphalt at its intersection with Ha-Zorfim Street suggests the existence of additional cesspools, which could not be accessed during the excavations. The viscosity of the fill in Ha-Peninim and Abul‘afiya structures support the cesspools identification.
Segments of late Ottoman paved streets were found under the modern asphalt coating at the southwestern part of Ha-Zorfim and Abul‘afiya Streets, as well as the alleyways near the city gate and its adjacent small yard. Kurkar and beach-rock slabs were used for paving (average size 15×30 cm; Figs. 14, 15). Street paving is known to have been introduced to Jaffa during the later decades of the nineteenth century CE.
An unusual wall segment (W456; length 2.2 m; see Fig. 3) was found near modern levels at the northwestern part of ‘Ami‘ad Street. The wall's western face consisted of large cut stones (25×45 cm), laid as headers, with a core of fieldstones and clay. As the eastern face of the wall was not preserved, its width can not be determined. Yet, a small part of the wall (width 0.9 m) indicated a structure considerably wider than customary in domestic buildings. This wall may have been part of the southeastern Ottoman defenses, but the meager remains preclude certain identification.
Most medieval architectural remains are too scattered and fragmentary to allow precise conclusions with regard to function and context; however, the substantial ceramic, glass, numismatic and other finds confirm their twelfth–thirteenth CE dating. The only medieval structure, to which a function may be strongly suggested, is W529at the junction of Ha-Zorfim and ‘Ami‘ad Streets. If it was, indeed, part of a moat, it thus provides an initial indication of the Crusader fortifications’ contour in this part of the city.
The late Ottoman archaeological materials befit the information derived from nineteenth-century maps and textual records, concerning the resettlement of this part of Jaffa. Analyzing the foundations of dismantled buildings along with extant ones and the surviving segments of channels and pavements allows a tentative reconstruction of the street’s layout, as well as of the changes and alterations introduced during the closing decades of Ottoman rule.