|The Old City of Akko (Acre)|
|The Hospitaller Center|
|Conservation work in Halls 7, 8, 2003|
|Orderer||Old Akko Development Company, Ltd.|
|Address||Block: 18009, Lot: 2|
Halls 7 and 8 are located in the northern part of the fortress, toward the Knights’ Hall. Their southern façade delineates the northern side of the fortress’s courtyard. The objective of the conservation work was to carry out an initial stabilization of the finds.
The halls were three stories high, of which only the first two were preserved. The bottom floor was used as a water reservoir and the upper floor served as a storehouse that contained various objects used in the production of sugar. The second floor was apparently covered with a barrel vault, the upper part of which collapsed at some unknown point in time. The remains of the vault were found collapsed on a layer of fill more than 3 m thick from which we can conclude the collapse occurred quite some time after the Hospitallers abandoned the structure in 1291 CE. A staircase that led to the third floor was preserved in Hall 8.
During the Ottoman period a prison was built on top of the ruins of the Hospitaller fortress. The halls were filled with soil, like the other parts of the fortress and the entire building served as a foundation. The floor of the prison was built at a level lower than the presumed elevation of the second story vault. A number of new architectural components were also added to the building but they only marginally affected the overall plan of the structure (Stern E. 2000, The Center of the Hospitaller Order in Akko. Qadmoniot 119: 4-12).
The main engineering problem in these halls is the lack of stability resulting from the collapse of the second story vault and the construction of the prison level. Other problems include missing masonry stones, weathered stones, masonry joints that need to be pointed up and the destabilized cores of walls.
In recent years a number of steps have been taken for the initial stabilization of retaining walls. In 1999 the interior arch connecting the two halls was restored. The removal of the soil fill was begun, but due to the presence of different finds and the remains of painted Crusader plaster inside the collapse layer, the work was halted.
The stabilization of the halls was carried out by the Old Akko Development Company, Ltd. The work included the insertion of metal beams beneath the prison rooms (“Death Row”) and below the visitors’ room and the placement of “supporting beams” on the wall separating the halls.
At this stage of the work Hall 7 is carefully being exposed under archaeological supervision. We wanted to uncover a stable course of stonework in the partition wall that can be used as a base for reconstructing the arch (from the side of Hall 7).
The future conservation treatment of the halls will be determined within the framework of an overall conservation program that addresses all of the problems at the site, as well as the manner in which the fortress will be presented to the public.
To view the figures, click on the figure caption