During August–September 1999 and June–July 2000 two seasons of excavations were conducted in the eastern part of ‘Akko, outside the city walls (License Nos. G-130/1999, G-75/2000; map ref. NIG 2064/7580; OIG 1564/2580). This was a joint project of the Deutcher Orden in Israel and the Department of Archaeology of the University of Haifa. The excavations, on behalf of the University of Haifa, were directed by A. Boas of the University of Haifa and G.P. Melloni of the Deutcher Orden. The staff included Y. Yuval and T. Haj Yihya (area supervision 1999), B. Boaz (administration 1999, 2000), S. Stark (surveying 1999, 2000) and R. Kool (numismatics). The work was performed by volunteers from Germany, Israel, the United States, Italy and Austria, as well as paid workers from Israel.
The choice of this site was based on the earlier discovery of two large Crusader-period buildings. A section of one building was uncovered on the northeastern side of the abandoned Western Galilee Bakery and was described in a report by Z. Goldmann in 1961. He recorded the exposure of three courses of an ashlar wall, which constituted the northeast corner of a large public building. Some of the stones had masons' marks, a clear indication that this was a Frankish construction. In 1974, M. Dothan excavated part of a second building at a distance of c. 70 m to the north of Goldmann's building. Dothan’s structure was also large and was evidently destroyed in a conflagration, probably that of al Malik al-Ashraf in 1291. Discussing the position of Acre's walls (‘Atiqot 31), B.Z. Kedar concurred with Goldmann's suggestion that one of these buildings could be the headquarters of the German knights.
The aim of the excavation was twofold. Firstly, we aimed to establish whether or not these structures were the remains of the quarter and administrative buildings of the Order of Teutonic Knights. According to thirteenth- and fourteenth-century maps and other sources, the German quarter, which was established in 1198, was located in the east of the medieval city near the eastern city walls. Secondly, it was hoped that the excavation would throw light on the position of Acre's eastern defenses, either by actually exposing a section of the eastern wall or, at least by concluding from the nature of archaeological remains, whether this area, located some 350 m east of the Turkish wall, was within or outside of the Crusader city.
The excavation site is located adjacent to and on the eastern side of Derekh Ha-Arba‘a, the principal street entering ‘Akko from the south, opposite the School for Naval Officers. Four small areas (A–D; Fig. 1), were opened in the first season and ten adjoining squares in Area B were excavated in the second season. Area A was to the east, at the end of the small, unnamed street that dissects the site. Area B was located to the south of the site, adjacent to the abandoned Western Galilee Bakery, which defined the western boundary of the excavation, and the northern wall of the Muslim cemetery. Area C was opened at the northern extreme of the site, adjacent to the Christian cemetery, which formed the northern limit of the excavation. Area D was a small trench excavated between the northern wall of the bakery and the small, unnamed street.
Floors and living surfaces were observed in all four areas, although the location of the site did not permit the excavation of broad connected levels.
Area A. Three squares were excavated; a plaster floor with a stone channel was exposed; no relationship could be established between this floor and the architecture in the adjacent square, where part of a medieval structure was uncovered at a considerably lower level.
Area B. Two well-defined Crusader floors of small stones and plaster were exposed and both were dated, on the basis of ceramic finds, to the thirteenth century CE.
Area C. A small, poorly preserved packed-earth floor was discovered, dating to the Crusader period.
Area D. Two floors of small stones and plaster, on slightly different elevations but probably contemporary in date, and also of the Crusader period (twelfth and thirteenth centuries CE), were uncovered.
It appears that four distinct structures were revealed, the one in Area B was the large building partly exposed by Goldmann in 1961. The other buildings seem to have a more domestic nature. However, the limited excavation area made it difficult to interpret the relationships between the exposed segments of the structures.
In the second season, efforts were concentrated in Area B, including the remains exposed in 1999 (the building excavated by Goldmann). During the course of excavations, remains of a fairly large Crusader structure were uncovered. The layout of this building was difficult to understand for two reasons. Firstly, a large part of the structure, including most of the outer walls, was beyond the excavation area, extending into the grounds of the cemetery to the south, the abandoned bakery to the west and the asphalt street to the north. Secondly, the remains exposed were badly damaged in the past as a result of activities that took place after the fall of Acre in 1291. The first of these was the intentional destruction of the city by the Mamluk conqueror, al-Ashraf Khalil as part of a "scorched-earth" policy aimed at preventing the Franks from regaining a foothold in the Holy Land. Collapsed walls and vaults and a layer of burnt ash were evidence to this destruction. The second occurrence took place several hundred years later. Acre lay in ruins until the eighteenth century when it was rebuilt by Daher al-Umar. The area covered by Turkish ‘Akko was considerably smaller than that of the Frankish city and all the buildings outside the new walls were systematically destroyed by Daher al-Umar and subsequently by al-Jazar, who rebuilt the fortifications in the nineteenth century. There were two reasons for this destruction. The first one was to reuse the stones for the building of new walls and structures and the second was to clear obstructions from the area in front of the walls. Consequently, the building examined in the present excavation was in an extremely ruinous state. Above the destroyed levels was a fill of wind-blown sand, which contained some ceramics of Turkish date that apparently were left behind at the final dismantling of the walls.
Amongst the few interesting architectural finds were fragments of Frankish capitals and a single piece of ribbing from a Gothic vault. Ceramics and glass finds included residual material dating to the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, as well as a rich assemblage of local and imported Crusader-period wares. Thirteenth-century ceramics and coins in the ash layer over the floor in Area B, sometimes sealed under the collapsed vaults, included a gold Hyperperon of Emperor John III (1222–1254; IAA No. 107900). The pottery from both seasons included large quantities of glazed cooking wares that evidenced the domestic nature of activities in the area. Most of the other vessels were thirteenth- century date imported wares from Cyprus, Italy and northern Syria and some local coarse wares, including jugs, storage jars, unglazed bowls of a type known as "Acre Bowls", sugar moulds and jars. The large quantity of "Acre bowls" is significant, since these bowls are considered to have been used by pilgrims who were in the care of the Military Orders (and perhaps by the brothers of the Orders). Consequently their presence here may point to the activity of one of the Military Orders in this area. Taking into account the location of this site, the possibility exists that this was indeed the quarter of the Teutonic Order.