Area C. Immediately below the concrete foundations of the police compound, earlier walls built of roughly cut kurkar stones and consolidated with cement-plaster, had emerged, as well as a corresponding plaster floor (L525; Fig. 4) between them.Three walls (width c. 0.5 m) of this structure were partly exposed, including two long walls (W522, W529) and a perpendicular wall between them (W528). The general orientation of construction was southwest-northeast, deviating from that of the main buildings in the Qishle compound. The northeastern W529 was exposed for only 1.25 m and remained mostly buried in the section; the southwestern W522 could be followed to a length of 4.45 m and the connecting wall (W528) was 1.1 m long. The inner faces of these walls were coated with a layer of plaster (thickness 3 cm). Although the walls were poorly preserved and survived a single course high, they seem to have belonged to a reasonably well-built unit. Related pottery, metals, glass and coins dated to the late Ottoman period (nineteenth–early twentieth centuries CE).
A layer of fill (thickness 1 m) separated the structure from seven burials discovered in various parts of the square. Five of the graves, which consisted of underground beach-rock slabs deposited over the human remains, were in the sections (Fig. 5).The remaining two graves in the center of the area (L533, L538) showed unusual preservation. The burials at the Qishle, as those in the Clock Tower square and adjoining areas to the north and east, were destroyed in the early twentieth century, reportedly by the Ottoman governor Hasan Bey. The destruction apparently obliterated most of the superstructure, which in traditional Muslim funerary architecture, consisted of one or two stone markers set into a rectangular platform. The human remains and their covering slabs were in many cases left more or less undamaged. The bases of the superstructure platforms in the two graves had, however, remained intact and are, so far, the only such example in the compound's excavations (Fig. 6).
The excavation was obstructed by the remains of concrete foundations, mainly in the half square that marked the northern limit of the area. These remains (W1126) probably belonged to a structure of British Mandate origin. Many such structures were built on this part of the site, as well as numerous Israeli additions of mostly lighter prefabricated materials. Below the modern level was a fill layer (thickness 0.9 m), which overlaid a solid surface of packed earth and plaster (L1130, L1137; Fig. 7) and contained late Ottoman ceramics, glass and metal artifacts, as well as several coins. Fill of a similar nature that contained analogous finds was excavated below the solid surface. An exactly matching stratigraphy was discovered throughout the central and western parts of the western courtyard in 2007 (HA-ESI 121
). Pottery and other finds in the thick fill above and below the solid surface (L1130) dated to the late Ottoman period. Hence, the solid surface was probably a foundation bed for the Qishle’s actual surface, paved c. 1 m higher. The purpose of the solid surface may have been to stabilize the thick, but relatively soft fill that was intended to level the ground in preparation for the construction of the Qishle compound in the 1880s.
The kurkar bedrock, exposed 3.1 m below surface (L1142), was overlain with a sandy layer that contained potsherds from the Hellenistic period. A similar layer, overlaying bedrock, was found in 2007 immediately to the north of the present excavation. No architectural remains could be securely associated with this period during the former excavations at the western back courtyard and none emerged in the course of the present fieldwork.
Exposure of bedrock brought to light what seemed at first as an artificially hewn space, with an apparent straight-angled entrance (Fig. 8). However, excavating the space yielded sterile sand and rock fragments with no anthropogenic materials of any kind. The easily fractured nature of the kurkar rock could have obscured any marks of hewing tools. However, the complete absence of finds and the likelihood that natural elements caused erosion and damage to the soft material, suggest that the space was natural.