During March 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted at the site of the Eden Hotel in Yafo (Permit No. A-6093; map ref. 176777–824/662205–45), following the discovery of archaeological remains while exposing the kurkar bedrock prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by LLC Yefet 36, was directed by Y. Levy and A. Dayan, with the assistance of F. Volynsky, D. Barkan, M. Ajami, M, Mulokandov, L. Talmi, L. Drezner, T. Greenwald, A. Dagot, A. Buchennino, H. Ben-Ari, S. Sushilov, Y. Arbel, R. Forestani, K. Sa‘id, M. Masarwa, D. Golan, A. Glick, L. Rauchberger, I. Kornfeld, A. Masarwa, P. Spivak, P. Gendelman, L. Nadav-Ziv, R. Assis, L. Golan, A. Shadman, A. Yaroshevitz, E. Oren, R. Toueg, I. Tahan, R. Lupu, E. Yannai, A.A. Sa‘id, H. Torge, E. Jakoel, A. ‘Azab, Y. Elisha, Z. Rosenblit and O. Danziger (area supervision), H. Ashkenazi and N. Bashukevitz (registration), Y. Lavan, R. Abu Halaf, E. Bachar and Y. Amrani (administration), V. Essman, M. Kahan, M. Kunin and Y. Shmidov (surveying), A. Peretz (field photography), A. Gorzalczany and B. Ajami (safety), Y. Zahavi (safety officer), Y. Nagar and V. Eshed (physical anthropology), and L. Di Segni (inscription translation). Additional assistance was rendered by B. Antin, S. Ashkenazi, D. Na‘amni and Y. Rahamim.
The Persian period (sixth–fifth centuries BCE). Fourteen burial caves (2.0×3.0–2.5×4.0 m) hewn in kurkar bedrock and accessed by a vertical shaft were exposed. The ceilings of several caves collapsed when mechanical equipment was used to expose the surface level. The interior of the caves contained fill of kurkar sand and fragments of kurkar rock. Potsherds and intact vessels, mostly juglets and lamps (Fig. 2), were found at the bottom of the caves.
The Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE). Jar burials were exposed within a rock-cutting in the kurkar. The jars were found crushed, with animal bones alongside them (probably camels or cows). These might have been animals that were placed there as an offering or were put in the tomb in a later phase.
The Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE). A burial cave hewn in kurkar bedrock was discovered. The cave was accessed via a rectilinear antechamber (c. 1.8 sq m). A large stone engraved with a cross, which sealed the opening of the cave, was placed in the southern side of the entrance. Fragments of pottery vessels, intact lamps, animal bones and glass vessels were found in the antechamber.
A mosaic pavement was exposed c. 11 m north of the burial cave. An inscription on the mosaic pavement addressed visitors to the cemetery: “Be brave all those that are here [seeing] these things” (Fig. 3). The inscription dates to the Byzantine period (the seventh century CE).
The Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE). A rock-hewn cist grave (c. 0.5 × 1.7 m) in the kurkar bedrock was discovered. The tomb was blocked by different size kurkar stones. The fill in the tomb contained fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Abbasid period. Wall stumps built of kurkar ashlars, which were probably part of the burial complex or installations, were also exposed. The installations were probably cesspits, which were subsequently converted for use as refuse pits.
The Crusader period (eleventh–thirteenth centuries CE). A burial complex hewn in the kurkar bedrock was exposed. It included three burial troughs (outer dimensions c. 2.5 sq m, depth c. 0.8 m) and coated with plaster that contained ground shells. The troughs were filled with numerous crushed human bones that could not be identified. It seems that the burial complex was hewn in the Byzantine period, but during the Crusader period—when the fortifications were built—bones from graves damaged by the construction work were removed into the complex.
Various types of tombs, built installations and installations hewn in kurkar bedrock, dating from the Persian period (sixth century BCE) to the modern era, were exposed in the excavation.