Activity east of the historic tell is known from the Bronze and Iron Ages to the Ottoman period (Peilstöcker and Burke 2011
), and the area was used intensively in the Early Hellenistic, Byzantine, Crusader and Late Ottoman periods. The remains exposed in the excavations of the Greek Market date primarily to the Crusader, Mamluk–Early Ottoman and Late Ottoman periods, but pottery sherds from the Hellenistic, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were also discovered. The remains included parts of buildings, some of them vaulted, irrigation and drainage channels, wells, cesspits, lime pits and tombs. Pottery vessels, porcelain, glassware, coins, arrowheads, musket balls, fragments of cannonballs and copper and glass jewelry were uncovered.
The current excavations were carried out in the compound bordered in the west by Clock-Tower Square, in the north by Marzuk and ʽAzar Street, in the south by Beit Eshel Street in the Flea Market and in the east by Shimon Ha-Tzadik Street. Eight areas were opened: Area A on Pinchas Ben Yair Street, Area B on 3341 Street, Area C on Avtalyon Street, Areas D and G on Yoʽazar Ish Ha-Birah Street, Area E on Ha-Gymnasia Ha-ʽIvrit Street, Area F on Joshua ben Perahiah Street and Area H on 3338 Street. The size and depth of the squares (1–3 m below the surface) were determined in accordance with development plans, safety and the location of the infrastructures.
Stratum III—Crusader Period (twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE)
In Area C, a section of a relatively wide wall was exposed that exceeded the dimensions of the conventional surviving construction in Yafo from this period; arrowheads and Crusader pottery relating to this wall were discovered. A similar wall with an opening was also found in Area B (Fig. 4). The wall in Area B formed a perpendicular corner with another wall, facing north; during the Ottoman period, the wall served as a foundation for an irrigation channel. The walls may have been part of public buildings, villas or large warehouses. Part of a vault was exposed at the southern end of Area A. To its south were architectural remains that included a marble column base (Fig. 5). Two bases of vaults, sections of walls and floors were exposed at the western end of Area F, next to Clock Tower Square (Fig. 6). A section of another wall, parallel and north of Area F, was exposed in Area H. It was impossible to reconstruct clear plans of the buildings based on these wall sections.
Stratum II—Mamluk–Early Ottoman Periods (fourteenth-seventeenth centuries CE)
Eleven pit graves, aligned east–west, were exposed at the western end of Area F; seven of them were excavated. The graves were covered with slabs of beachrock and kurkar
. Some of the individuals were lying on their side, facing south, and others were in a supine position with just their face turned south (Figs. 7, 8). No funerary offerings were placed in the graves. These characteristics and the alignment of the graves are consistent with Muslim burials. All seven individuals were males 20–40 years of age. The stratigraphic location of the graves—between the Crusader architectural remains on one side and the irrigation channel and the Late Ottoman period structures on the other—date them to the Mamluk or Early Ottoman periods, similar to graves from this period found on neighboring Beit Eshel Street (Nagar 2011
). Based on many historical sources, the deceased are thought to have been the Mamluk guards stationed in Yafo for the purpose of supervising the harbor after the destruction of the Crusader city.
Stratum Ib—Late Ottoman Period, Phase I (nineteenth century CE)
In Areas A, B, D, E and F, sections of plastered irrigation channels belonging to agricultural plots were discovered, upon which the Greek Market was subsequently constructed. Junctions replete with terracotta pipes, which were used to regulate water flow, were found in some of the channels (Fig. 9). A well was exposed at the northern end of Area A that was probably blocked with the construction of the Greek Market (Fig. 10). Another well was located at the junction between Areas A and B. The route of the channels indicates the high probability that other wells remain sealed beneath the market compound. Modest structures that also belonged to the agricultural area (Areas B and F) were exposed. They were built of kurkar bonded with mud, a construction method characteristic of the Late Ottoman period in Yafo. Remains of a large building from the Late Ottoman period were found in Area G. The structure’s southern wall (length 9.5 m) and a short section of its eastern wall were exposed; after its upper courses were dismantled, the wall served as a foundation for one of the buildings of the Greek Market (Fig. 11). These walls (thickness 1 m) were made of well-dressed limestone bonded with cement. The remains probably belong to a building that appears on a late-nineteenth century map as the ‘Turkish postal warehouse’. Three bonded walls of another stone building from this period were discovered at the northern end of Area E; a doorway was fixed in one of its walls. The finds include a variety of pottery sherds from the Late Ottoman period, mostly dating to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries CE.
Stratum Ia—Late Ottoman Period, Phase II (late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries CE)
This phase represents the beginning of the Greek Market. Several lime pits attributed to the construction of the market were discovered in the southern part of Area A and in the junction between Areas E and G (Fig. 12). Foundation arches characteristic of large stone structures from this period were exposed in Area B (Fig. 13). Cesspits equipped with drainage channels leading to them were found at the northern ends of Areas A and E, and on neighboring Shemaiah Street. One of the channels damaged an earlier Ottoman structure that was situated at the end of Area E and covered the remains of the walls (Fig. 14). Refuse pits containing a variety of finds from this period were discovered at locations at the site. Dozens of items, some of them almost complete, were found in a refuse pit in Area D. These included Codd soda bottles equipped with a special sealing mechanism that was quite common at the time. On the sides of the bottles is the trademark of the British Foster and Barnett Company, a glass bottle factory that operated in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries CE. In a second pit, at the northern end of Area A, were hundreds of fragments of plain identical porcelain plates, with an identical seal on the bottom. Intact or nearly intact glass bottles for wine or soda, as well as a concentration of tiny porcelain cups were found in a third refuse pit at the junction of Areas E and F. In a fourth pit, in Area H, iron fragments and bottles were found, including part of a wine bottle that bore the seal of the Chateau Lafite winery in Bordeaux. An extraordinary artifact that consists of a lead seal with part of an inscription preserved on it is probably related to the Lafarge Company of France, which participated in the Suez Canal project and is now an international conglomerate for building materials.
The excavations in the Greek Market contributed new information about the history of Yafo in the l
ast thousand years. The Crusader building remains were primarily discovered along the western and southern edges of the Greek Market. Together with the absence of architectural remains from this period in other parts of the site, they help to outline the boundaries of Crusader Yafo’s expansion to the northeast. The men’s graves from the Mamluk or Early Ottoman periods uncovered in the excavations of the Greek Market, in addition to the graves on nearby Beit Eshel Street, reinforce the hypothesis that they were used for the burial of members of a garrison that was stationed in the towers overlooking the harbor
at a time when the city was uninhabited. Such a garrison is mentioned in written sources and appears in many illustrations from these periods (Tolkowsky 1924
:130–135; Ze’evi 1985
With the renewal of cultivation in the areas east of the tell, interments were halted in this area, no later than the mid-eighteenth century CE. The channels and wells found throughout the market, as well as the many fragments of saqiye vessels, attest to this development.
The excavations have contributed information regarding the elimination of the agricultural plots with the establishment of the Greek Market, the building techniques that were employed, as well as information about some of the goods sold in its stores in its early years during a transition period to the city we know today.