Western Room. The room’s southern wall was built on top of an older wall (W201; exposed length 1.9 m; Fig. 3), constructed on an east–west axis and preserved to a height of one to two courses. The wall incorporated the springing stone of a northward-curving arch that was not preserved; the opposite wall of the arch was not found. The springer and the wall stones to the east of the arch were built of expertly-quarried ashlars that were finished with comb-pick dressing, whereas the stone to its west was larger, coarsely worked and broken at its eastern edge. The use of two different types of stones and the damage to one of the stones may indicate that the arch was secondarily incorporated into an earlier existing wall. A layer of earth and stone fill (L101), uncovered to the north of the wall, was similar to the floor bedding discovered in the eastern square (see below). Fill 101 was apparently as the bedding for the building’s earlier floor, but it was probably removed when the modern building was constructed.
Eastern Room. The northern face of an ancient wall (W202; excavated length c. 2.5 m; Fig. 4), unearthed along the room’s southern wall, was built on an east–west alignment and preserved to a height of one course; it was constructed on top of a four-course-high foundation (0.8 m). The wall’s southern face continued beneath the wall of the building. The wall was abutted on the north by a floor bedding layer composed of soil and a large quantity of small and medium-sized stones (L102, L104, L105). The earlier floor appears to have been laid over this bedding, but it was probably removed when the building was constructed. Remains of a rectangular wall stub (W203; c. 1.0 × 2.1 m), built of two courses of roughly dressed, large and medium-sized stones, was uncovered in the center of the room (Fig. 5). Some of the wall’s stones were removed during construction work at the site. The wall was probably a foundation for a structure or installation. To the north of wall W203, the southwest part of a circular cesspit was discovered (L103; c. 0.4 m deep) underlying the floor of the building and extending under its walls (Figs. 5–8). The eastern and southern walls of the cesspit were lined with small, flat stones. The pit contained numerous plaster fragments, pieces of a tabun, potsherds, stone artifacts and glass vessels.
The abundant ceramic finds retrieved from the floor bedding (L102, L104, L105) and the cesspit (L103) date from the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE). The pottery finds comprise bowls (Fig. 9:1–10), basins (Fig. 9:11–15), cooking ware, including lids (Fig. 10:1–3), casseroles (Fig. 10:4, 5), cooking pots (Fig. 10:6, 7), storage jars (Fig. 10:8–12), a jug stopper (Fig. 10:13), as well as jugs and juglets (Fig. 10:14–17). The rim of one of the basins (Fig. 9:15) retrieved in Cesspit 103 is incised with a figure of a clawed animal, probably a lion, accompanied by four Greek letters ‘ΚΙΙΔ’ and a symbol; the meaning of the inscription and the symbol is not clear. A carved bone fragment (Fig. 11) discovered in the bedding layer (L104) appears to be a knife handle. Cesspit 103 yielded four oil lamps (Storchan, below), two (Fig. 12:1, 2) from the Early Islamic period, and two steatite lamps (Fig. 12:3, 4) from the tenth–fourteenth centuries CE. The excavation recovered glass fragments (Fig. 13; Winter, below), mostly from the cesspit, dating from the late eighth–tenth centuries CE.
The Abbasid-period finds discovered in the floor bedding and in Cesspit 103 attest to the probable presence of an earlier building from the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE). The steatite lamps indicate that the building’s occupants may have been affluent, and the Greek inscription on the casserole shows that they spoke Greek and were probably Christian. Wall 201 in the western room may belong to an earlier undated phase.
The excavations revealed an interesting assemblage of four oil lamps found together in Cesspit 103. Two of the lamps were made of clay (Fig 12:1, 2), and the other two were fashioned from gray-colored steatite (‘soapstone’; Fig 12:3, 4).
One of the clay lamps was mold-made, the other wheel-made. A large portion of the mold-made lamp’s upper body was preserved (Fig 12:1). This lamp is pear-shaped, and it features a central, elongated and decorated channel on the nozzle, connecting the fill hole with the wick hole (missing), and a ‘tongue’-shaped handle at its rear. The shoulder is decorated with a vegetal decoration, and traces of soot are visible on the lamp’s outer surface. This lamp accords with Hadad’s Type 37 (Hadad 2002
:95–106), dated from the end of the eighth century to the eleventh century CE. An identical lamp, perhaps from the same mold, was acquired from the Dominican Monastery Collection and was published in the Schloessinger Collection catalogue (Rosenthal and Sivan 1978
: No. 551). However, while the filling hole of our lamp was completely hollowed out, the central filling hole of the lamp in the Schloessinger Collection was pierced with small circles. The wheel-made lamp (Fig 12:2) was found nearly complete, apart from a small break in the nozzle. This lamp was formed of two separate wheel-made parts, subsequently joined together. The lamp features a strap handle attached from the outer surface of the lower part of the lamp to the rim of the fill hole. The lamp belongs to Hadad’s Type 40 (Hadad 2002
:106), dated at Bet She’an to the ninth–eleventh centuries CE. A similar lamp was uncovered in the excavations at the Knights’ Palace Hotel in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem (Weksler-Bdolah and Avissar 2015
: Fig. 22:1).
The two other lamps are unique, as they are carved of steatite. Lamp 3 is complete (Fig 12:3) and has a shovel-shaped body with two triangular nozzles, and an undefined convex base. The lamp was probably fashioned from a rectangular-shaped stone block. The lamp sides are undecorated, and its handle is decorated with rough chisel marks. The other steatite lamp is represented only by a small handle fragment (Fig 12:4), whose upper surface is decorated with numerous carved grooves. The form and size of the handle of Lamp 4 is similar to that of Lamp 3. These steatite lamps were imported from the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, where they were manufactured; they were thus items of value and prestige. According to Whitcomb
:25), the production of such lamps began in the tenth century and continued into the fourteenth century CE. A similar lamp, from an unknown provenience, is found in the Schloessinger Collection (Rosenthal and Sivan 1978
: No. 680). Other similar steatite lamp nozzle fragments were uncovered at Kh. Ka‘kul, near Jerusalem (Boas 2006
: Fig. 21:152) and at Marcus St. in Ramla (Toueg 2006
: Fig. 4:17); both were dated to the tenth–eleventh centuries CE. Two multi-nozzled steatite lamps were found in ‘Aqaba, Jordan (Whitcomb 1988
:25: A, C, D). Steatite was used in the Early Islamic period as a raw material for lamps and for other vessels, including cooking pots (Erickson-Gini 2013
: Fig. 12:11) and incense burners (Elisha 2009
: Fig. 3).
The excavation yielded about twenty glass fragments. A single fragment was found in the structure foundations (L104) and dates from the Byzantine period (Fig. 13:1); it belongs to a bottle whose neck is adorned with a wound trail, the most customary decoration on Byzantine-period bottles.
Most of the fragments from the excavation were found in Cesspit 103 and date from the late eighth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 13:2–7).
Among these finds were a small jar (Fig. 13:2) and two fragments of pointed, pushed-in bases (Fig. 13:3, 4), one of which may have supported the jar. Similar jars and bases were discovered, for example, in Abbasid-period contexts at Ramla (Gorin-Rosen 2010
:239−241, Pls. 10.6:24, 25; 10.7:1).
Also found in the cesspit was a cylindrical beaker (Fig. 13:5), whose lower end is adorned with a wheel-cut horizontal groove. Beakers adorned with a cut decoration were widespread in the Abbasid period. A base of a similar beaker was recovered at the Giv‘ati Parking Lot (Permit No. A-3835). Similar vessels were unearthed in contexts dated to the ninth–tenth centuries CE, for example, in the foundations of a floor on Marcus Street in Ramla (Pollak 2007
:111–113, Fig. 6:37), and in Stratum VI at Caesarea Maritima (Pollak 2003
:167–169, Fig. 3:47, 48).
Other vessels from the cesspit include a tooled lamp-stem (Fig. 13:6), and a long spout of an alembic (Fig. 13:7). Alembics were introduced during the Umayyad period, and were widespread in the Abbasid period. Several alembic fragments were recorded nearby, on Misgav La-Dakh Street in the Jewish Quarter (Permit Nos. A-5741 and A-5836), and a complete example was discovered in an excavation on the northwestern part of the City of David spur (Crowfoot and FitzGerald 1929
: Pl. XXI:18). Alembics were also recovered, for example, at Caesarea Maritima, in Stratum VIII, dated to 640–750 CE (Pollak 2003
:165, Fig. 1:17); at Ramla, in contexts dated to the eighth century CE (e.g., Gorin-Rosen 2010
:227, Pl. 10.2:18–21); and at Bet She’an, in contexts dated to the Umayyad and Abbasid–Fatimid periods (Hadad 2005
:29, 47–48, Pls. 23:453–455; 46:979–981).