Area C1. A level (L101a) composed of different sized kurkar stones and yellowish soil was exposed. A similar soil level of various thicknesses (below) was discovered in the rest of the excavation squares and apparently, it was a bedding for leveling the surface of the courtyard. A cement surface (width 0.4 m) was uncovered between two supporting pilasters next to the wall of the northern hall (Fig. 5). The southern end of the surface was severed, possibly when the modern debris was compacted in the middle of the twentieth century. It is unclear therefore if this was a paved surface of the courtyard or a kind of step built next to the wall. The cement surface and the bedding (L101a) should be dated to the last phase of the building’s use. The difference in elevation between the threshold stone of the northern hall (47.7 m) and that of the cement surface (47.82 m), if it is a remnant of the courtyard floor, suggests that the surface was added in a later phase, since in most of the Islamic-period courtyard buildings, the level of the rooms was higher than that of the open area. It should be noted that the interior of the hall was not examined and care was taken not to dismantle the threshold of the hall; hence, it could not be determined if this was the original entrance threshold and what was its date.
After exposing the kurkar layer, the excavation focused on a narrow strip (width 1.5 m) from the wall of the hall, near its opening. A pavement of small flagstones (L109; elevation c. 47.25 m; Fig. 6), which was discovered in a sounding excavated parallel to the hall’s opening, continued westward, parallel to the line of the wall and the pilaster. Opposite the opening of the northern hall, the pavement was only preserved in a small area (width c. 0.4 m); however, from the pilaster westward, almost the entire floor was exposed. Remains of the pavement were also visible in a sounding opened in Sq C2 (elevation 47.18 m) and therefore, it is likely that the pavement continued throughout the whole area of the courtyard. A layer (L108) of different sized round stones and an abundance of potsherds was discovered on top of the pavement; this was probably a tamped fill or an occupation layer that accumulated above the pavement.
The foundation of the hall’s wall and the threshold of its entrance were exposed. The foundation consisted of stones mixed with bonding material (debesh) and it was spread across an area wider than the wall itself. Beneath the threshold, several stones arranged in an arch (top elevation of arch 46.61 m) were probably part of the building’s foundation rather than a basement room. South of the wall’s foundation other deposits of soil were found, yet the limited exposure made it very difficult to understand their nature and the stratigraphic connection between them and the foundation of the entrance to the hall.
Area C5. Along the western side of the hall in the northern wing, the northern and eastern walls of another vaulted building, anchored to the end pilaster of the khan’s northern hall, were exposed (Fig. 7). Remains of ultramarine-colored plaster, which was first used in the second half of the nineteenth century CE, were noted on the eastern wall. The exposure of the top of the structure’s cross-vault (elevation c. 45.5 m) indicated that the level of the building’s floor was situated below ground level. The presence of the building in this location clarifies the scenery in the aerial photographs. At least in the last phase of the khan’s use, no built wing closed off the building from the western side. The closure of the courtyard, not before the Late Ottoman period, was accomplished by a series of buildings next to the khan, but not connected to it.
Area C2. A yellow-colored level (L102; elevation c. 47.6 m; Fig. 8) was exposed throughout the entire area of the square after the removal of modern refuse layers (thickness c. 2 m). The level, similar to the one in Sq C1, L101 (above), seems to have been a deposit intended as fill and foundation for the leveled floor of the courtyard in its last phase of use. Nonetheless, relative differences occur in the elevation of the entrances to the rooms of the wings to the south and north. The entrance to the room at the southern end of Sq C2 was c. 0.5 m (48.23 m) higher than the entrance to the northern hall (Sq C1).
Adjacent to the room’s wall, below the bedding layer, the wall’s foundation and the foundation of the opening to the room (Fig. 9) were exposed at a higher elevation (0.5–0.8 m) than those of the northern hall. Like the foundation of the wall in the northern wing, the foundation here was composed of stones and bonding material that was wider than the width of the wall. Beneath the opening of the room were stones arranged in an arch, similar to the arch exposed in the opening to the northern hall. It is clear from the plan of the building that the northern and southern wings were not parallel. Cross-vaults, having a broad span and supported by well-built pilasters, were used in the construction of the northern wing, whereas the southern wing was built of narrow cross-vaults, without pilasters. It therefore seems that despite the similarity in the construction technique of the two wings’ foundations, it is apparent that they were built at different times. Furthermore, it seems that the southern wing was a later addition to the building and that during its construction a large amount of earth was added to the courtyard in order to level the area between the northern part and the new southern part.
Most of the pottery fragments recovered from all of the soil deposits and the pavement of the building dated to the Ottoman period. Potsherds from the Mamluk and the Early Islamic periods, as well as earlier potsherds were also found. However, based on the large quantity of potsherds from the nineteenth century, the earlier potsherds were probably brought to the site along with soil fills from the vicinity of the building and were not necessarily connected to the khan structure.
Several clay pipes from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were also found, as well as a gold coin dated to the thirtieth year of Mahmoud II rule (1808–1839; Fig. 10), which came from a fill mixed with modern finds in the area of the opening to the northern hall.
The excavation revealed two distinct pavement layers in the courtyard: the kurkar level (L101a) that may be related to the cement surface in Area C1 and the stone pavement (L109), both dating to the Ottoman period. It was ascertained that the courtyard was paved with tamped earth surfaces and stones, as seen in sections of Floor 109 in Areas C1 and C2. The plan of the building, the asymmetry between the northern and southern wings and the difference in the depth of the foundations between the courtyard’s southern and northern parts indicate that the northern wing predated the other wings and the southern wing was added in a later phase. To add this wing and prepare the courtyard, artificial fill was probably needed and the southern wing was built into it. The western side of the courtyard was delimited, at least in the last phase of the khan’s use, by a group of buildings whose rear wall simultaneously served as the enclosure wall of the courtyard. These buildings were visible in a 1936 aerial photograph of the city and one of them was exposed in the excavation.