The Western Room
Stratum I. A floor (L121) of different size flagstones was exposed 0.5 m below the surface. The floor abutted the four walls of the room (W1–W4), as well as the opening of an arched cistern (L127; 1.3 x 1.4 m, depth 2.05 m; Fig. 3). The cistern opening was round (diam. 0.3 m) and hewn in a rectangular stone slab (thickness 0.15 m). A frame for placing the cistern’s cover was cut around the edge of the opening. The upper part of the cistern was built of fieldstones bonded with light colored mortar and its bottom part was hewn in the bedrock (Fig. 4). The sides of the cistern were coated with a layer of pinkish white plaster (thickness 3–5 cm), rich in ground potsherds, which was applied to a base of potsherds. A sump (Fig. 2: Section 1-1) was located at the bottom of the cistern.
The fill (L120) overlying the floor contained potsherds from the Mamluk period, including deep bowls (Fig. 5:5–7), a fragment of a jar decorated with a geometric design (Fig. ), and two jars (Fig. , 14). Potsherds from the Byzantine and Mamluk periods were found below the floor (L123). The Byzantine ceramics included deep bowls (Fig. 5:1, 2), a bowl (Fig. 5:3) and a small bowl (Fig. 5:4) and the Mamluk finds included deep bowls (Fig. 5:8), bowls (Fig. 5:9–11) and a jar (Fig. 5:15). A jar rim (Fig. ) dating to the Mamluk period was found inside the plaster that covered the bottom of the cistern.
The cistern and the floor that abutted it should be dated to the Mamluk period, based on the finds. Wall 3 should be ascribed to Stratum I because it was built above the mosaic floor of Stratum II (see below).
Stratum II. A coarse white mosaic floor (L122, L124) was exposed c. 0.4 m below Floor 121. The floor abutted Walls 1, 2 and 4; it continued west below W3 and was severed when Cistern 127 was dug. Although no finds that could assist in dating the floor and Walls 1, 2 and 4 were discovered, it is obvious that they predated the Mamluk period.
The Eastern Room
Stratum I. A square room (3.2 x 3.2 m) delimited by four walls (W1, W5–W7; Fig. 6) was exposed. The wall foundations (W1a, W5a–W7a) were set on bedrock. Part of a floor (L125), composed of different size flagstones, had survived in a niche in W6, above W6a.
Pottery vessels from the Byzantine and Mamluk periods were discovered below the floor level (L128). The Byzantine pottery included bowls (Fig. 7:1, 2) and cooking pots (Fig. 7:5, 6) and the Mamluk pottery included bowls (Fig. 7:7, 8), deep bowls (Fig. , 11) and a jug (Fig. ). Based on these finds, Stratum I is attributed to the Mamluk period.
The eastern room did not yield any architectural remains from Stratum II.
Two well-built steps that descended to the east were exposed at the bottom of the fill (L128) below Floor 125 (Fig. 8); the flagstones that composed the steps were of uniform width. The upper step was preserved for the entire width of the room, whereas the bottom one was only exposed in the southeastern corner. The two steps were founded on the bedrock after it was somewhat leveled, and they predated the walls of Stratum I.
Pottery vessels that dated to the Mamluk and Byzantine periods were discovered above the steps. Byzantine bowls (Fig. 7:3, 4), a Mamluk bowl (Fig. 7:9) and an open clay lamp from the Mamluk period, which is glazed on the inside (Fig. ) were discovered on the bedrock close to the steps (L130). No artifacts were discovered between the flagstones and the bedrock.
As the stratum was disturbed, the ceramic finds could not provide an absolute date; however, it is assumed that the stratum was not built after the Byzantine period. It should be noted that the stone dressing quality of the flagstones in the steps is known from building remains that predate the Byzantine period.
Two strata that represent three periods were exposed in each of the excavated rooms. Steps that descend to the east were discovered in Stratum III, which was only exposed in the eastern room. It was not possible to date the steps based on the ceramic finds; it was only possible to determine that they were no later than the Byzantine period, although the quality of their stone dressing indicates that the steps predated the Byzantine period. The steps were probably part of a stepped, east–west street that went up as far as the Ecce Homo Arch. Stratum II, where a mosaic floor and walls were discovered, was only exposed in the western room. It was not possible to date the stratum on account of the finds, yet according to the stratigraphic sequence, the stratum is earlier than the Mamluk period; the multitude of finds from the Byzantine period discovered in the excavation enable us to presume that the stratum dated it to this period. No finds whatsoever dating to the time between the Byzantine and the Mamluk periods were found. Stratum I was exposed in the two rooms and it dated to the Mamluk period. The building constructed in this period is perpendicular to the modern road and utilizes three walls from Stratum II (W1, W2, W4). The two rooms in the building are paved with flagstones of various sizes and shapes and a cistern is located in one of the rooms. The walls of Strata I and II continued to be used in the Ottoman period, but the floor level was raised to the elevation of the modern street. This floor was removed prior to the excavation.