Upon removal of the upper layer, c. 0.5 m below the asphalt, a tangled complex of infrastructures and a drainage pipe were exposed in the middle of the area at a depth of 1.2 m. Architectural remains from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods (fifteenth–twentieth centuries CE) were damaged during the installation of the drainage pipe, probably in the 1970s. Despite the severe damage, three settlement strata could be discerned (I–III; Fig. 2). Stratum I consisted of remains of a plastered building (C) dating to the Ottoman period (nineteenth and early twentieth centuries CE). Remains of two architectural units (A, B) dating to the Early Ottoman period (sixteenth–seventeenth centuries CE) were exposed in Stratum II and wall remains dating to the Mamluk period were uncovered in Stratum III.
Stratum III was identified in three small probes (L16, L18, L19) and the tops of walls (W21, W22) and building-stone collapse (Figs. 3–5) that are indicative of dense construction were exposed. Due to the limited area of the probes, it was not possible to attain a plan of the walls and buildings. The pottery from the Mamluk period (fifteenth century CE) dates the last phase of these buildings and includes brown glazed and green splash glazed bowls (Fig. 6:1, 2) and ‘grenades’ (Fig. 6:3, 4). The walls and collapse exposed in the probes were overlain with a layer of alluvium (L14) that was noted throughout the excavation area (Figs. 4, 5, 7).
Stratum II. Fragmentary wall remains were exposed. At least two rooms (A, B), built parallel to the slope, could be discerned. There was probably another room between them whose walls did not survive. Walls 2 and 11 were aligned northwest–southeast and delimited the rooms from the northeast. A trench was dug between the two walls for the installation of a new water pipeline (a). It caused severe damage to the area and it is unclear if these are two walls of two separate buildings or a single wall. Walls whose remains could be seen in the southwestern section of the excavation area (W5–W7, W10; Figs. 4, 7, 8) were perpendicular to Walls 2 and 11, and they too were severed during the installation of a drainage pipe (b). The continuation of Wall 7 was Wall 17 that was perpendicular to Wall 11 (Fig. 2). The walls of the rooms were built of medium- sized masonry stones with small fieldstones in between; they were founded on alluvium (L14) and survived to c. 0.7–0.8 m high. No floors relating to these walls were revealed; however, a burnt layer (L15), which contained animal bones and pottery (see below) dating to the beginning of the Ottoman period (sixteenth–seventeenth centuries CE), was discerned.
The Pottery from Stratum II
Edna J. Stern
Four fragments of imported glazed bowls dating to the Early Ottoman period (sixteenth–seventeenth centuries CE) were discovered. Three of the bowls were imported from different regions in Italy and one was from China.
Italian Polychrome Sgrafitto Bowls —a fragment of a glazed bowl made of pale red clay with an incised decoration, white slip, transparent lead glaze and yellow and green glazed patches (Fig. 6:5). Bowls of this type were produced in Northern Italy from the thirteenth century CE onward and were especially common in the fifteenth–sixteenth centuries CE. They were found in Israel both in urban centers and rural sites.
Montelupo Miaolica—a fragment of an everted bowl rim, made of buff colored clay, decorated with a blue and yellow tin glaze on a white background (Fig. 6:6). Bowls of this type were produced in Montelupo, near Pisa, in the sixteenth–seventeenth centuries CE. These bowls are not as frequent in Israel as the previous type.
Ligurian Maiolica—a bowl fragment, probably a ledge rim (Fig. 6:7), made of pale yellow clay and coated with a thick opaque layer of tin glaze painted dark blue and white on a turquoise background; the decoration is probably a floral design. The vessel was most likely manufactured in Genoa or another production center in the region of Liguria in the sixteenth–seventeenth centuries CE. Although vessels of this type have been found in Israel, they are rarer than the two aforementioned types.
Blue and White Porcelain of the Ming Dynasty—a fragment of a short ledge rim of a bowl imported from China (Fig. 6:8), made of hard white porcelain and coated with a clear glaze. Two cobalt blue stripes adorn the rim of the vessel. Ming vessels were first produced from the fourteenth century CE onward and their manufacture continued until the mid-fifteenth century CE. Vessels of this type were exported from China to the Islamic countries, to the Ottoman Empire and in the fifteenth century, they also reached Europe. Such vessels have been found in a variety of sites in Israel.
These artifacts expand the repertoire of imported vessel types from the Early Ottoman period that were found in Z
efat, and they join the finds from previous excavations conducted in the el-Watta quarter of Z
efat (HA-ESI 119
). The finds contribute to the research of the pottery in this time period, which has not been sufficiently studied in the past, and they shed light on a time that is lacking in material finds at the beginning of Ottoman rule in the region. The same types of locally produced vessels from the Mamluk period continued to be used in the Ottoman period; hence the importance of the imported pottery, since it enables to date the assemblages more accurately. Undoubtedly the imported pottery vessels reflect the activity of European merchants in Z
efat and the international maritime commercial ties that passed through the revitalized port of ‘Akko, where similar types of pottery have also been found (HA-ESI 122
). Pottery vessels similar to these were also found in the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem (HA-ESI 121
) and in Ramla (HA-ESI 124
). These apparently arrived in Jerusalem and Ramla through the port of Yafo, where similar pots have yet to be found.
Stratum I. Part of a plastered structure (C; Fig. 2) was discovered south of the building from the Ottoman period. The tops of its walls (W8, W9; preserved height 1.5 m) were exposed beneath the street’s asphalt roadbed. Ashlar collapse, including roof tiles and modern floor tiles, was found inside the building. During the building’s construction, the southern part of the building from Stratum II was destroyed. It is important to note that the foundations of the plastered building penetrated to a great depth below the wall foundations of the building from Stratum II, against which they were constructed (Fig. 8) and probably also damaged more ancient remains. The finds from this stratum include Rashaya el-Fukhar ware e.g., a jug (Fig. 6:9), a tobacco pipe (Fig. 6:10) and a fragment of an imported Marseille roof tile from nineteenth century CE (Fig. 6:11).
The finds of the limited excavation on Tarpat Street attest to the existence of Mamluk Zefat in this region of the city, but did not produce any information regarding the existence of a settlement from the Crusader period, because the excavation was halted prior to reaching virgin soil. After the Mamluk settlement ceased to exist, its remains were covered over with alluvium. Late on, probably early in the Ottoman period, the settlement was renewed and new buildings were constructed on an abandoned slope that was covered with alluvium. The buildings of this settlement were destroyed, perhaps in the wake of an earthquake that struck at a time that cannot be determined. However, its effects are apparently visible in the burnt layer (L15) and the many masonry stones that were scattered throughout the area and were disturbed by the modern infrastructures. The construction in the area was not renewed following the devastation and according to long-time residents of Zefat, there was an Arab marketplace in this area, to which the plastered building might possibly be attributed. At the time of the British Mandate, a road was paved and is still used today.