Architectural remains that date to the Mamluk (thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE; Stratum 2) and the Ottoman (nineteenth–twentieth centuries CE; Stratum 1) periods were exposed.
Remains of a massive wall (W2; length 4.5 m, width c. 1 m; Figs. 2, 3) that was oriented north–south, parallel to the line of the slope, were exposed. Its southern end was damaged by a cesspit that was dug in the 1940s or 50s. The wall was founded on friable gray chalk bedrock that descends down the slope from west to east. Dark brown soil fill was in the space between either side of the wall and the slope; above it was an especially hard cemented layer (L6), comprising small stones, pieces of gray chalk bedrock and small potsherds. The surface of the area east (L4) and west (L5) of the wall was leveled with a tamped layer of small stones and potsherds (thickness 0.1–0.7 m) that served as a foundation and bedding for a floor that did not survive. The edges of the foundation east of the wall were lined with large stones to prevent it from settling. The hard layer was probably built to reinforce the foundation of W2 and the floor bedding, particularly that east of the wall. The hard layer could not withstand the pressure and the load from the direction of the slope and at some point, the eastern side settled and the cemented layer tilted eastward. To support this layer and the floor’s bedding and prevent their collapse, a wall (W3; Fig. 4) was built on the slope, c. 2.7 m from the foundation of W2. To this end, a deep trench (L10) was dug in the floor bedding, reaching the layer of cemented fill, on which the wall foundation was built up to the elevation of the floor bedding. A single course of dressed indigenous lime stones survived above the bedding. Potsherds found in the layers of fill, the floor bedding and the foundation trench of W 3 dated to the Mamluk period and included unglazed vessels, such as bowls (Fig. 5:1, 2), a krater (Fig. 5:3), cooking pots (not drawn), jugs and jars (Fig. 5:4, 5) and green and yellow glazed bowls (Fig. 5:6), some of which are decorated with fine sgrafitto (Fig. 5:7) and gouged sgrafitto (Fig. 5:8, 9) that were locally produced. It should be noted that no imported vessels were found.
Although no other architectural remains were found, the impressive dimensions of W2’s foundation are indicative of a large building. Apparently, this stratum also went out of use in the Mamluk period.
Most of the stratum was destroyed as a result of work done by mechanical equipment and the construction of a cesspit. Many building remains were discerned in the sections, but they were very poorly preserved, save in the northern section where part of a vault, aligned north–south and built of indigenous limestone (length in excess of 3 m, width c. 2.5 m; Fig. 6), was preserved. A window set in the northern wall of the vault was blocked and a long stone lintel was above the opening. The eastern wall of the vault (W11; Fig. 7) was founded in part on the foundation of W2 from the Mamluk period, whereas the western wall (W12) was set on a thick, hard layer of fill that consisted of small stones and potsherds (L17); this layer was similar to the layer of cemented fill (L6) in Stratum 2. It seems that in both the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, it was customary for builders to use a mixture of small stones and potsherds in preparing fill or a cemented foundation.
The ceramic finds collected from the stone collapse that piled up in the excavation area and inside the vault contained large amounts of Rashaya el-Fukhar ware that was manufactured in a village in southern Lebanon and whose products were sold in northern Israel at the beginning of the twentieth century CE. In addition, a fragment of a Çanakkale-Ware bowl (Fig. 5:10) was found; it comes from the Dardanelles in western Turkey and was widespread in the Mediterranean countries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries CE (Vroom 2005:180–182
Architectural remains from the Mamluk period (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries CE) were exposed for the first time on the eastern slope of the Z
efat fortress. These join the evidence from the building inscription located on the nearby Mosque. The finds are indeed meager but they are indicative of a neighborhood that existed on the fortress’ eastern slope in the Mamluk period. Although the scope and size of the neighborhood are still unknown, it seems that some aspects of its inhabitants can be described. The absence of imported vessels from the pottery assemblage would suggest that the residents could not afford to purchase expensive imported pottery, unlike the well-to-do residents of the western neighborhood el-Watta, who were engaged in commerce, used Mamluk and Venetian coins and in whose homes imported vessels from numerous countries were found (Amos and Getzov
, in preparation). It is unclear if this settlement continued uninterrupted until the Early Ottoman period; however, dense building remains of a residential quarter from the Late Ottoman period (nineteenth–twentieth centuries CE) were discovered there.