Stratum II
A plaster floor (L105) and three parallel walls, aligned north–south (W201–W203; Fig. 1), have survived. Plaster Floor 105 was only exposed in the probe excavated west of W202; however, it continued north, west and east, beyond the limits of the probe. It abutted W202 on the east (Fig. 1: Section 2-2). A thin layer of soil (L106; Fig. 1: Section 2-2) that covered a foundation of small stones bonded with mortar, which is composed of lime and ash, was excavated beneath Floor 105. Wall 201 was built of fieldstone debesh.
The excavation of Plaster Floor 105 yielded several jar fragments, the latest of which dated to the Ottoman period (second half of the nineteenth century CE). Jar fragments dating to the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, as well as an illegible coin, were found in a layer of soil (L106) below the floor.
Stratum I
Two phases of a single building are ascribed to this stratum. The first phase consists of a concrete tile floor (L101) and two concrete channels (L102, L103); the second phase comprised a wall of a vault (W200) that negated one of the channels.
Floor 101 was discovered along most of the surface in the area. It was composed of a concrete tile layer, which turned into a layer of poured concrete above the ancient wall remains (Fig. 2). The northern side of the floor probably abutted the saqiye well, but due to safety considerations it was not possible to ascertain this or excavate next to the southern wall of the well. Floor 101 was founded on a bedding of sand (L104; Fig. 1: Section 1-1).Channel 102 (depth 0.13 m) descended at an incline from south to north and its southern end was situated beyond the borders of the square. It emptied toward Channel 103 (depth 0.43 m), which sloped from west to east and severed W201 – ascribed to the early phase.
A fragment of a red-slipped and burnished Ottoman smoking pipe was found in the excavation of the sand layer below Floor 101. Such pipes were extremely common to the late nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries CE and ceased to be used at about the time of the British conquest.
Wall 200 (length 1.5 m) was constructed in the second phase of the building. It abutted the southern side of the saqiye well, close to its southeastern corner (Fig. 3) and was the eastern wall of a barrel-vaulted chamber, oriented north–south.Wall 200 was built on top of W201’s foundation courses of the early phase. To build this wall, it was necessary to dismantle the upper courses of W201and to block a section of Channel 103 where it was incorporated in
The wall. An opening in W200 had survived by a single doorjamb, standing on its base.
Ceramic cylinders were incorporated in the construction of the vault; these were meant to lighten its weight and save on building stones. They were attached to each other with mortar, composed of lime and ash (Fig. 4). The ceramic cylinders have no grooves intended for connecting the pipe sections, yet a hole is perforated in their base; hence, it is clear that they were originally manufactured for use in construction and are not pipes or jars in secondary use. The integration of ceramic cylinders in vaults was a widespread phenomenon in the nineteenth century CE and numerous comparisons occur in Jerusalem, Ramla, Yafo and elsewhere (Y.M. Israel 2006. Black Gaza Ware from the Ottoman Period. Ph.D diss., Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, pp. 275–311).
It is not known when the structure was destroyed. The building stones and ceramic cylinders of the vault accumulated in the collapse layer (thickness c. 0.5 m) that was discovered on Floor 101.
Most of the ceramic finds from the excavation date to the Ottoman period. A jar (Fig. 5:3) was found on Floor 105 from the early layer, and in the fill below the floor (L107) were a bowl (Fig. 5:1) and jar (Fig. 5:4). A red-painted and burnished pipe (Fig. 5:6) was discovered in the fill below Floor 101 (L104). A krater (Fig. 5:2) and a jar (Fig. 5:5) were recovered from the accumulation that blocked Channel 103.