The kitchen of the House of Rabbi Abun, seen on our cover, can be understood as a microcosm of the painstaking effort that went into the reconstruction of the whole house. The small domed oven at center stands within a mudbrick chimney. Excavated remains of this indoor oven—employed both for heating the house and for cooking in bad weather, when outdoor cooking was difficult—indicated the size and shape of the oven, a type still used by the Druze (a Moslem sect residing in the area). A portion of the chimney exits the roof in the corner, behind the period pottery on the chimney’s mantle, and rises high enough above the roof to create a draw that effectively pulls smoke out of the house. No remains of the original chimney were found, but the reconstruction was built, as was the rest the house, by Druze workmen using traditional styles and methods. Experiments have shown that this chimney works well.

Composed of unworked and roughly worked basalt, the kitchen floor contains the stones found in the excavation, replaced in their original positions after having been removed during the dig. In ancient times the floor would not have been as hard to clean as it looks. Mud plaster would have covered it to form a smooth surface. The floor, left uncovered here to display its construction, is covered with mud plaster in other parts of the house to demonstrate its finished form.

Typical grinding implements, baskets filled with fuel (the remnants of pressed olives) and bowls with local foods from the period lie on the floor to the left of the chimney. Out of reach of rodents and household animals, garlic hangs from the ceiling, which was built of wooden beams and reeds laid crosswise.

The doorway connecting the storage room and the kitchen reveals an interesting detail of the original house’s history. The excavation uncovered the doorway’s finely worked rectagular stones, called ashlars, and discovered that the doorway had been blocked. Ashlar construction typically indicates an outside entrance to a house, so it appears that this kitchen was added to the house, at which time the old entrance was blocked. The two holes in the right doorpost, in the second stone from the floor, probably accommodated a deadbolt lock, although one hole is the usual number for such a lock.