One excavation square (Figs. 1, 2) was opened above the underground reservoir, slightly northwest of its northwestern corner (previously documented; Greenhut 2008). The boundaries of the square were W22 and W23 in the east; W21in the north; the eastern wall of Yellin House (W20), and the steps leading down to the basement of the house in the west; and W24 in the south. A staircase (W25) joins the western part of W24 from the north.
In the southeast of the square, the excavation reached a vault, which was built of an assortment of fieldstones and roughly hewn small and medium stones. The upper part of the northern opening in the ceiling of Reservoir II was also exposed from the outside. The inside had already been documented in the past (Greenhut 2008:137, Plan 2; Fig. 3). The top of W27 (thickness 0.25 m) was also uncovered. This ashlar wall delimited the reservoir from the north.
The top of the wall that forms the boundary of Reservoir II on the west, was exposed at the point in which the channel that drains the cellar of Yellin House enters the reservoir. In the past, a small entrance hall inside the reservoir was documented in this spot, and it was suggested that the channel continued further west for another meter, and then turned south. The channel was farther exposed in the current excavation, and proved to continue west toward Yellin House, where it joined the drainage system of the cellar that was used as a cowshed. The channel (width c. 0.6 m) was covered with stone slabs (Fig. 4). To the north, it cut a fieldstone foundation (L207). The foundation was adjacent to the outer face of Wall 27 and the northern wall of the reservoir, and surrounded the reservoir from the west (maximum thickness 1.5 m). It also overlay the bedrock in the entire northern part of the square, and extended over the whole area between W27 in the south, W22 and W23 in the east and W21 in the north. Walls 21 and 22 were built over this foundation, which was therefore earlier. Parts of a gray-white plaster floor were exposed above the foundation, at the same level as the bases of W21 and W22 (565.70 m asl; Figs. 5, 6). Patches of the floor bedding, made of yellowish clay, were preserved in several places. One of the remaining sections of this floor covered the stone foundation (Figs. 7, 8). It should be noted that at the bottom of the foundation, where it meets W27 (Fig. 9), was a plastic bag, which apparently arrived through the underground Reservoir II.
Wall 21 had two parts (Fig. 2: Section 12–12). The lower part (height 0.65 m) consisted of two courses of well-dressed ashlars, and was 5 cm wider than the upper part. The joints were pointed with mud plaster. The upper part of the wall (height 1.7 m) consisted of five courses of ashlars arranged in alternating courses of headers and stretchers. The course of headers comprised a single row of stones, and that of the stretchers two rows. Stone wedges were used as a filler between the courses, and the joints were pointed with mud plaster. An iron stake was embedded at the top of the first course of the upper part, 1.1 m east of its western end. An iron ring passed through a hole at the end of the stake. Identical stake and ring were discovered in the cellar which, as said above, functioned in the past as a cowshed.
Wall 22 (length 0.5 m, height 2.8 m, width 0.4 m) was constructed of ashlars and abutted W21 from the south. Its southern end was a doorway (width 0.8 m, height 1.8 m). A new threshold to this doorway was constructed at a later stage, when a large stone and a small one were placed next to each other (Fig. 10). A later, higher floor covered this threshold (Fig. 2: Section 10–10). Outside the doorway, at the foot of its façade and west of it, and below the level of its early floor, was a cluster of large fieldstones that were placed over of the same stone foundations as the walls (L207; Fig. 11). The cluster of stones probably served as a step leading to the doorway. Because of this step, which joined W21, the foundation course of W21 was missing (Fig. 2: Section 12–12); hence the wall postdated the step.
South of the doorway, Wall 23 (length 2 m, height 2.65 m, width 0.4 m) was built of ashlars, and like W21, its was constructed of alternating courses of headers and stretchers. As in W21, here too stone wedges were used as a filler between the courses. In the north, the wall formed a corner with W28—the southern doorjamb of the doorway. Wall 28 (length 2.2 m, height 1.5 m) was built of ashlars; five courses were preserved. Walls 28 and 22, and the eastern part of W21 form the boundaries to a small rectangular room (L204; 1.2 × 1.7 m) whose eastern wall (W29) has five courses of large ashlars. White plaster, pottery sherds and stone wedges were inserted in the spaces between the stones. Walls 28 and 21 abut W29, and therefore postdate it, at least technically, although the base of W29 was 0.45 m higher than the foundations of the two other walls, and its foundation was of soil and small stones. Room 204 had a pointed vault ceiling, covered with mud plaster, on an east–west axis. The vault sprang from Walls 21 and 28 (Fig. 2: Section 11–11, Fig. 12), at a height of 1.5–2.2 m above the upper, most recent floor of the room. A chimney (0.2 × 0.2 m, depth 0.3 m) covered with a slab (Fig. 12), opened in the eastern end of the vault, a little north of its pointed top, and 5 cm from the eastern Wall 29.
A gray-white plaster floor, which was level with a large stone in the center of the room, extended from the later threshold of Room 204 and abutted the foundation of W21 and W22. Wall 28 cut through the floor. In the eastern part of W28, 0.2 m from W29, and directly above the level of the upper floor, a channel (0.35 × 0.55 m), whose purpose is unclear, passed into the wall, and apparently through it. The visible part of the channel was fully covered with a stone slab. Sand and concrete blocked its far, southern end. A hollow in the eastern part of Room 204 (0.5 × 2.7 m) was partially covered by two large thick stone slabs, with a gap of 0.2 m between them (Fig. 13)—an adequate arrangement for a toilet. This postdates the channel in W28, which it blocked. When the covering stones were removed, they were found to be surrounded by a foundation of small fieldstones and gray mud plaster. In the eastern part of Vault II, in the underground reservoir and next to its northern wall (W27), there is an opening that seems to have drained the toilet into the reservoir when the latter went out of use. Brown stains smearing the stone surface of W27 (Fig. 14), are visible inside the reservoir below this opening. Wall 29 was covered with white plaster, which is well preserved, particularly on the three upper courses and between the stones of the first and second courses. Soot marks were noted on the northeastern part of the vault and at the center of the bottom course of W29.
A wall (W24; max. preserved height 2 m), severely damaged during the development work, was uncovered in the southern part of the excavation square. Its center, which was built on the roof of the vault, was missing (Fig. 15), apparently damaged by mechanical equipment. The western side of the wall abutted the Yellin House cellar, and its eastern side joined W6 which was already documented in 2000 (Greenhut 2008:137, Plan 2). The wall leans toward the south. Its northern face is neatly constructed of small and medium-size dressed stones; its southern face was not visible, but the section behind it shows earth fill, and above the fill, south of the wall, courses of large blocks of stone (Fig. 16). Where the wall turns down on the western side of the vault, the builders used small stones to level its base before construction (Fig. 17).
North of the wall and adjacent to its western part, a staircase of seven steps (W25; width 0.8 m) ascending from east to west (Fig. 18) was exposed. The staircase was built of large ashlars, and rested against W24. Like the wall itself, it leans slightly south. On the west, the staircase abutted the wall of the Yellin House cellar. Grayish white plaster was preserved between the stones of the staircase, and stone wedges were inserted in the gaps. The staircase is set on a stone fill similar to the fill below W24. Apparently the fill was deposited there after the installation of the channel to its north (above).
In the northern part of the eastern wall of the courtyard, which contains the hewn underground cistern, a chute was partially documented in 2000 (Greenhut 2008:137–139, Plan 2, Section 5–5
). At the time it was identified as a plastered passage. In the current season it was further excavated, and turned out to be a plastered chute, 0.5 m wide along its top, and 0.7 m along the base. It runs west-east for 3.35 m, and ends at the entrance to the vault, which is blocked by a stone collapse (Fig. 19). It was identified as a chute because it slopes towards the vault (difference in elevation: 1.35 m). Halfway to the vault, the chute narrows (width c. 0.6 m). Where it meets the vault in the east, it was covered by two slabs flanking a column base in secondary use (Fig. 20). The eastern, larger slab (0.45 × 0.75) is well integrated into the ceiling of the vault. It is therefore obvious that the vault and the chute in its ceiling, were conceived and executed as a single, planned unit.
The chute was coated with several layers of plaster. An undercoat layer of thin, pale gray plaster, was preserved in several places over the full height of the walls. It coats the underside of the covering stones, and permeates into the spaces between them, an unambiguous indication that it was applied after the stones were in place. The plaster is similar to the one that was used for pointing the joints of W1 (see Fig. 1). On the northern side of the chute, below the column that was used as a covering slab (Fig. 21), was a section of plaster (0.25 × 0.40 m) with incised herringbone pattern, which probably acted as a key to facilitate the grip of the subsequent coat of plaster. This was the only place where the plaster on the chute was incised.
Over the undercoat, and up to a level of 0.9–1.2 m above the base of the chute, a thick layer of hydraulic plaster (Fig. 22) was applied over small and medium pottery sherds that were laid directly on the undercoat. The top edge of the hydraulic plaster was rounded and smoothed on to the undercoat. It seems to have been intentionally terminated at the highest level of the intended water flow.
A shallow rectangular depression (4 × 5 cm, depth 3 cm) whose function remains unknown (Fig. 23), was discovered in the eastern part of the northern wall of the chute, 1.6 m above its base, and c. 0.1 m from its entrance into the vault . A fragment of a cornice was found in the pile of collapsed stones that blocked the eastern end of the chute. It was dressed in a Crusader style, well finished, and bore a typical Crusader stonemason mark (Fig. 24; Pringle 1981:187, Fig 4:13/17). It also became clear that it was possible to reconstruct an additional step (Fig. 25; Greenhut 2008:138, Section 5–5) in the Crusader staircase (W12; Fig. 1), which was built over the frame of a box-like structure (see Greenhut 2008:138–139, Section 7–7). An imprint of the step was identified on a wall north of the chute, and a fragment of it was discovered in the current excavation. The source of the water that flowed through the chute is still unknown, but contrary to past claim (Greenhut 2008:140), the staircase apparently led to the top of the chute in the west, and played a part in its operation and maintenance. Support to this assumption may be found in a ceramic gutter that drained the staircase. The gutter was discovered during the initial documentation of the site (Greenhut 2008:140).
The channel in the cellar of Yellin House runs in a north-south direction (width 0.7 m; L210; Fig. 1: Section 1–1; Fig. 26). It was discovered near the northwestern corner of the cellar (L203). The lower sides of the channel (width 0.7 m) are upright; the top of the upper course is exposed. The channel is covered by a vault, whose walls are aligned with its outer edges. The walls of the vault are not as thick as the sides of the channel. The vault is built of small and medium stones, bound with mud plaster composed of an aggregate of flint, crushed pottery, small stones and brown soil. Stones block the channel in the south, it runs to the north for c. 3 m, turns east and continued the entire length of Yellin House (c. 13 m), below the windows in the building’s extremely thick northern wall. The channel passes close to the northeastern corner of the building, where it was previously identified during an archaeological inspection (A. Nagorski, pers. comm.). The vault that was discovered there, is not as tall as the vault inside the house, perhaps alluding to the inclination of the channel. Apart from the blockage in the south, the channel passes north below the walls of the building unobstructed, showing that channel and building were built as one unit.
The finds from the excavation are associated with the architectural remains of two periods—the Crusader and the Ottoman—that were already exposed during the documentation in 2000 (Greenhut 2008).
The Crusader-period remains include the northern wall and the vault in the southeastern corner of the excavation square, which are part of the reservoir that was documented in 2000. Also of this period is the chute that enters W1 and leads to a blocked vault. The chute hints at the possibility of a Crusader-period water-operated mill, and a future excavation in the blocked vault will clarify the nature of the mill and its mode of operation. The rest of the architectural remains are attributed to the Ottoman period and are part of an annex to Yellin House that was constructed in 1891.