A square was excavated inside a modern building and a cellar of a single-period structure was exposed. Several changes were made to the structure during its existence, particularly additions of walls and steps. Close to the time when the building was abandoned, it filled down to the bedrock level with soil and large quantities of modern refuse.
Phase I. Soft sloping calcareous bedrock, covered with a thin layer of ash and charred remains (L102; Figs. 1, 2), was exposed at a depth of 1.3 m. Numerous potsherds, fragments of blue plaster and several pieces of glass that probably originated from the building’s windows were found. The foundations of a wall’s pilasters (W10; preserved height c. 1.5 m) were set on top of the bedrock. The wall, well-built of roughly hewn small and medium stones and preserved seven courses high, was aligned northeast–southwest. It was not possible to determine the width of the wall because only one of its sides was exposed. The section preserved in the northern part of the wall is in excess of 1 m wide and it can be assumed that the building had a second story. The pilasters of the wall were probably part of a doorway or a vault that led to the cellar.
The potsherds dated the construction of the building to the end of the Ottoman period or the time of the British Mandate (see pottery).
Phase II. In this later phase an opening in W10 was sealed with fieldstones and a staircase (L103) of three steps that connected the bottom of the cellar (bedrock) to the top of W10 was added. It was presumably in this phase that Walls 11 and 12 were also added. Wall 11 was built of three courses of small and medium fieldstones, aligned northwest–southeast; it abutted W10. Wall 12, aligned southwest–northeast, was built of small stones and had a foundation of small stones resembling wadi pebbles; It was preserved to a maximum of three courses high (c. 0.2 m).
Walls 11 and 12 were built on soil fill (L101; thickness c. 0.5 m; Fig. 3) above the bedrock; the fill contained numerous stones, pieces of plaster, glass, metal and animal bones. Walls 11 and 12 reduced the area of the cellar, assuming that the bedrock level was wider or even beyond the building. The finds from this phase also date to the time of the British Mandate (see pottery).
The building was covered over for a final time with probably an intentional fill after it was demolished in the 1960s. A large amount of potsherds, roof tiles, building debris and stones was found.
Most of the pottery is Rashaya el-Fukhar ware that originated in Lebanon and was used mainly in northern Israel until 1948; the vessels were clearly domestic and used primarily for storage, cooking and serving. The vessels were decorated in a variety of ways, such as brushed designs in shades of red, black, brown and white and striped and looped patterns. The assemblage included serving bowls decorated in red and brown on white (Fig. 4:1, 2), small plain bowls without a decoration (Fig. 4:3, 4), kraters with dark glaze on the interior (Fig. 4:5, 6), a fry pan handle (Fig. 4:7), an amphoriskos with handles, slipped black (Fig. 4:8), an amphoriskos without handles (Fig. 4:9), fragment of a small unslipped jug (Fig. 4:10) and a juglet with two handles adorned in red and brown (‘Abriq Ahmar’; Fig. 4:11). In addition, fragments of a large habiya-type jar (Fig. 4:12) for storing oil or water, which was very common in Israel for domestic use until 1948, were found.
Two finds recovered from the excavation indicate the domestic nature of the building. They are fragments of ceramic mineral water bottles bearing the seal of a lion and the inscription ‘Knoll & Mattoini’ (Fig. 4:13) that come from Karlsbad (in the Czech Republic), a famous mineral site and spa from the fourteenth century CE. Bottles with this seal were produced from 1844 to 1861. The bottle might have been used for several generations and in that way reached the layer of fill in the building. The second find is a ceramic stopper belonging to a bottle or a jug (Fig. 4:14); it was in use in antiquity and continued to be used until the modern era.
Fragments of Marseilles roof tiles (not drawn) were also found.
The fragments of Marseilles roof tiles and glass date to the early twentieth century CE. According to E.J. Stern the building should be dated to after World War I because no tobacco pipes were found; these were common prior to WW I and gradually disappeared with the invention of the cigarette, which gained in popularity in the 1920s. In addition, no evidence of the earthquake that destroyed Zefat in 1837 was found and no finds from the the Mamluk and Early Ottoman periods prior to the earthquake were discovered. The excavation finds date the building to the time following World War I and its destruction to probably the 1960s.