Area A
The baking oven (L101; Figs. 2, 3) was discovered after dismantling a stone wall prior to the excavation. The oven was cleaned and documented in an attempt to understand the method and materials used to build it and its means of operation. These observations would allow to reconstruct it elsewhere and to uncover previously concealed parts of the building.
The oven’s installation process began by building a wall (W107; length 4 m, width 0.4 m, height 1.2 m) and filling the enclosed area to its west with soil and small stones to form a raised base (L121; height 1 m; Fig. 2: Section 2–2); the fill contained potsherds (below) and glass finds (Goren-Rosen, below) from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. On this fill, a foundation was built of three stone courses, the highest of which consisted of a row of ashlars (W125; width 0.3 m, height 0.7 m; Fig. 4). The dome of the baking chamber (L115; diam. 2.5 m, thickness c. 0.5 m) was constructed on the foundation, using elongated fieldstones with a bonding material that was pink on the top and yellowish on the bottom. The dome was covered with earth, which was then sealed for insulation with a light-colored material (5 cm thick). A wall (W116) built of stones and bonding material ran above the dome, separating it from the chamber to its west. To the north of the oven, an arched opening which led to a closed space (L117; Fig. 2: Section 3–3); the opening was walled up (W118). Another opening led to a cavity in the south (L124). The openings were apparently sealed before the oven was built.
At the front of the oven was a stone-built arch (L111; Fig. 2: Section 1–1), above which was a trapezoidal wall (W120) flanked by two supporting, stone-built jambs (W113, W114). A flat, elongated stone (L128) was placed over W120. The paving of the round baking chamber (L129; diam. c. 2 m, height 1.25 m; Fig. 5)—on which the baking goods were placed—was made of stone slabs (L112); several concrete slabs were apparently a later addition. The tiles were placed over a layer of soil (thickness 5 cm), beneath which was a white, crystalline layer (L127; thickness 5 cm; Fig. 2: Section 2–2), which was probably intended to insulate the oven. The oven chimney was installed behind W120; its upper part was not preserved, but an opening for it was found in the upper floor (Area B, L119; below).
In front of the oven was an open area (L103) paved with stones and flanked by two walls (W105, W106). Two steps (L102) led down into the open area from the east. At some stage, two walls (W109, W110) were built on either side of the open area, adjacent to W107. An elongated stone shelf (L108) placed on top of W107 served as a baker’s working surface. A stone sink (L104; Fig. 6) was uncovered near W110.
Finds. The pottery from the Fill 121 comprising the base of the oven, included a bowl that was imported from Venice in the late Mamluk period (Fig. 7:7) and vessels from the early Ottoman period: bowls (Fig. 7:8–11), a teapot (Fig. 7:12), kraters (Fig. 7:13, 14) and a jar (Fig. 7:15). A bowl fragment (Fig. 7:16) dated to the late Ottoman–British Mandate periods was recovered near the over. Three bronze Mamluk coins, dating from the thirteenth century (IAA 154786) and the fourteenth century CE (IAA 154698, 154699), were found to the east of the oven, on the floor of the room (L126).
Area B
On the building’s second floor (Fig. 9), above the baking oven, was an opening for the chimney (L119; Fig. 10). Beside it were the remains of a stone floor (L201; thickness 0.25 m; Fig. 11); a small patch of mosaic (L202) was uncovered beneath the floor. A probe in a different part of the room, where the floor was missing, uncovered a fill (L204) that was set over the barrel vault (L130; see Fig. 3), which carried the second floor. The fill, which served as a leveled bedding for the floor and was excavated down to the top of the vault, yielded mixed finds: bowls from the Abbasid period (Fig. 7:1) and the Fatimid period (Fig. 7:2–5) and a jar from the Ayyubid period (Fig. 7:6). Additional finds from the second floor consisted of potsherds from the Early Islamic, Crusader and Ayyubid periods (not drawn), as well as two fragments of concave glass bases dated to the Byzantine and Mamluk periods (not drawn).
Area C
A plastered installation (L301; length 1 m, width 0.5 m; Figs. 9, 12) was found in a room on the southern part of the building’s second floor. The installation was enclosed by two walls (W302, W307), on the north and west. The installation’s function remains unclear. The remains of a wall (W303) was detected to the northwest of the installation, but they were not examined.
Glass Finds from Area A
Yael Gorin-Rosen
The glass fragments found in Fill 121 at the base of oven (Area A) date from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. Two delicate blown-glass bowls were recovered (Fig. 8:1, 2). They were made of inferior material, containing many small round bubbles and horizontal elliptical bubbles, but were finely worked and have thin walls. Bowl No. 1 is made of light bluish glass and is covered with silver weathering. Its slightly everted rim was fire rounded; marks of blowing spirals resembling a twisted yellowish pattern are visible in the thin wall. Bowl No. 2 is made of silvery iridescent weathering and glass and is covered with grennish eathering and slight pitting; it is decorated with a thickened ridge and widely spaced vertical ribbing formed by mold blowing. The bowls date from the Mamluk period and were probably locally made. Two fragments of bowl lamps (not drawn) were also found; one is a base containing remains of a wick tube on the inside. A base of this type found near the Cardo in the Jewish Quarter excavations was dated to the fifteenth century CE (Brosh 2012:404, 422:G 78, Pl. 15.5:G 78). Also recovered was a factory-manufactured bottle (Fig. 8:3) from the late Ottoman period. It is made of colorless, almost white glass and is covered with dull weathering. Its poorly made rim is thickened and flaring, and it has a few ribs extending from the neck down.
The documented dismantling of the baking oven allows us to follow its construction stages: laying stone courses as a foundation for the baking chamber; constructing the dome by applying bonding material to the stones; and then completing the front wall, the chimney, the access area in front of the oven and the auxiliary features. The coins found in the level associated with the oven are from the Mamluk period, as are some of the pottery and glass fragments recovered from Fill 121 at the base of the oven. However, the factory-manufactured glass bottle found Fill 121 precludes attributing the oven’s installation to any time earlier than the late Ottoman period. The oven was probably used until the beginning of the twentieth century CE, judging by the concrete slabs which were used to replace stone slabs in the floor of the baking chamber. The openings in the vault walls, which were blocked when the oven was built, attest to additional spaces that existed in the building. The pottery from the bedding of the floor above the vault date from the Abbasid and the Ayyubid periods. Hence, the vault was built no earlier than the Ayyubid period, but probably later—in the Mamluk or Ottoman period.