Iron Age and Persian Period
Several fragments of pottery vessels from the Iron Age and Persian period were found; these were probably eroded and it seems that the excavated area was not inhabited in these periods. Yet, in an excavation conducted on 3762 Street (Permit No. A-5715), c. 20 m west of Area B’s southern part, an installation, attributed by the excavator to the Iron Age, was identified. There might have been limited activity in the region during this period.
Fragments of pottery vessels from this period were found throughout the excavation squares; however, architectural remains were only preserved in Area B. Due to safety precautions and disturbances by modern infrastructures, only a limited area was excavated, which precluded the full understanding of the remains. Remains of floors and walls were exposed, including a wall (min. length c. 17 m; Fig. 3) that was definitely part of a large complex, possibly a farm, and likely enclosed it. Architectural remains from the Hellenistic period were discovered in excavations conducted on Ben-Shetah
Street (HA-ESI 124
), c. 30 m west of Area B; the finds in the two excavations might be related to each other.
The time between the Roman and the Crusader periods is represented in our excavation only by ceramic finds. Most of the potsherds from these periods were very worn, probably a result of having been eroded. It seems that the region northeast of the tell was not occupied in these periods.
Most of the architectural remains in the excavation dated to the Ottoman period. A road, a drainage system, two cesspits and remains of buildings dating to at least two phases of the period, were revealed.
Remains of the road were exposed in Area A. The road, aligned east–west, is paved of crushed and tamped kurkar that was leveled and very smooth (Fig. 4). It was exposed beneath a soling road that was paved during the British Mandate. The road was dated to the late Ottoman period, on the basis of ceramic and numismatic finds, as well as Marseilles roof tiles that were found in the roadbed. A marble plaque affixed to the wall of the house located at 11 Razi’el Street, on which the original street name and the year 1886 are engraved, shows that this is a section of Butrus Street that was paved in the 1880s, and that some of the houses built at that time have survived to date. The road was built along the route that began at the city’s northeastern gate and led to Nablus and ‘Akko.
The drainage systems and cesspits were discovered along the entire length of the eastern part of Area A. The cesspits were preserved in their entirety, from foundations to ceilings (Fig. 5). The construction method employed in building the cesspits, their uniform level and their location in the street show that they belong to the same phase and were built according to the same plan.
Architectural remains were discovered in Areas B and C. The foundations of six rooms of a large building were exposed in Area B, including the structure’s drainage system. Some of the rooms were not fully uncovered because of damage caused by modern infrastructures, safety concerns and the limitations of the excavation area; hence, their reconstructed dimensions can only be approximated. Foundations of other buildings were discovered in Area C. The buildings were probably used as dwellings. The massive foundations of the buildings’ walls (Fig. 6) suggest the structures rose to a height of several stories.
The British Mandate Era
The repairs to Jerusalem Boulevard and Razi’el Street in the 1930s, implemented at the initiative of the British Mandate government, included the replacement of the drainage systems and covering the road from the Ottoman period with a soling road. However, apart from minor changes, the route of the road remained the same in the British Mandate era.
The finds that recovered from the excavation represent the development of the city of Yafo outside the city’s ancient nucleus. The excavated area had no signs of settlement that can be ascribed to the Iron Age and the Persian period, save for limited activity that might have occurred in the Iron Age. Hellenistic-period remains were found for the first time at such a great distance northeast of the tell. During this period, the city served as a port city, maintained extensive commercial ties and was of regional importance. The economic prosperity in this period is reflected by the expansion of the city and the settlement of areas located outside the tell.
The pottery assemblage from the Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Crusader periods was scarce and worn and no architectural remains were exposed, suggesting that the ewxcavation area was located outside of the city limits during these periods.
During the Late Ottoman period, the government in Yafo was strong and stable and went to great lengths to erect new mosques and governmental buildings, install infrastructures and pave roads. The remains of the road and buildings in the excavation indicate a significant development of the region in this period. The quality of the planning and the construction of the infrastructure systems show that most of the planning was a national/urban initiative rather than a private enterprise.
Future research and comparisons of the excavation results with those of other excavations conducted on Jerusalem Boulevard and in the surrounding area will assist in fully understand the archaeological finds and their relationship to historical events.