In May 2005, a salvage excavation was carried out in the Romano House near the fortress in Zefat (Permit No. A-4480; map ref. 246643–70/763596–619; Figs. 1, 2). The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Cohen (surveying and field photography), with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration) and E. Damati (consultation).
The excavation unearthed part of a solid wall (W12; width greater than 2.5 m, height greater than 3 m; Figs. 3, 4). The outern eastern face of the wall was built of large fieldstones; the western face was robbed. The wall’s core (L11, L13) was built of a layer of limestone fieldstones bonded with soil mixed with small fieldstones; it yielded a few nondiagnostic pottery sherds and two unidentifiable glass shards. The robber’s trench of the wall’s western face (L10) was filled with soil accumulations, which contained a mixture of potsherds—body fragments, one of which was yellow-glazed against a brown background, and two handles (not drawn)—dated from the Hellenistic, Early Roman, Byzantine and medieval periods. No sherds whatsoever were found from the Ottoman period. The excavation did not reach the base of the wall due to safety concerns.
A topographical analysis of the area of the fortress of Zefat, based on the Palestine Exploration Fund survey map from 1875, allows us to determine that the wall belongs to the third, lowest, wall of the fortress. This map shows the rampart that marks the course of the lowest wall, an indication that the Romano House was built after 1875, as it was constructed above the remains of the fortress wall, which served as its foundation. This is the first time that part of the third, lowest, wall of the fortress has been exposed, and it contributes to an understanding of both the fortification and the structure built on top of it. The meager finds impede dating of the wall, but together with an analysis of the location of the excavation, it seems that the wall was associated with fortifications from the Mamluk period and that it was dismantled prior to the Ottoman period.