Stratum IV (Byzantine period). Two phases of building remains were discerned in Stratum IV. The earlier phase comprised a solid northeast–southwest oriented wall, whose two ends were not uncovered (W320; over 3 m exposed length; Fig. 2). The wall was built of medium- and small-sized fieldstones bonded with white mortar mixed with shells, on a foundation layer of small fieldstones; the base of the wall was not exposed. The wall was found covered over by a pile of pottery fragments, including a large quantity of Gaza ware jar sherds. West of W320, and at a similar elevation, the tops of stones exposed (not visible in the aerial photograph in Fig. 2) were possibly the remains of another wall belonging to the same structure. A kiln (L353, see below) was built above these stone tops.
The remains of a building consisting of two rooms, northern and southern, (Fig. 3) were built at a higher elevation than the walls of the earlier phase, and were therefore attributed to the later phase. The walls (0.5 m wide) of this structure, preserved to a height of one course only, had two faces, one built of a row of large, partially worked stones, and the other of small stones. The foundations of the walls consisted of small fieldstones. Remains of stone flooring were discovered in the southern room. Above the stone floor, a layer of red soil was found, different from the natural ḥamra at the site and possibly a raw material of some sort. The western wall of the building had been robbed or cancelled by the construction of a later kiln (L305, see below). It is not clear whether the entire building went out of use when the kilns were constructed, or whether part of the building continued in use in the subsequent Early Islamic period. Also attributed to the later phase of Stratum IV, were two walls uncovered east of the building, whose elevations and construction techniques resembled those of the structure; no stratigraphic connection, however, was found between them.
Stratum III (Early Islamic period). Three pottery kilns were uncovered (L293, L305, L353; see Fig. 2) dating to the Umayyad period. The kilns originally comprised a firebox dug into the ground, an overlying firing chamber floor installed with spaces for the transfer of heat, on which the vessels were set to be fired, and a domed roof. Most of the firing chamber floors were built at the ground level. All the components of the kilns were built and lined with mud-bricks, the outer surfaces of which were exposed to heat, and were therefore intensively burnt during the firing process. Kilns 293 and 353 were completely excavated, while Kiln 305 was only partially excavated. Three other kilns were identified in the excavation area, but not excavated. One (L303) was situated between Kiln 293 and Kiln 353 (see Fig. 2), and the other two were found in the northern part of the excavation. It is reasonable to assume that the fireboxes of Kilns 293, 353 and 303 could be accessed from the so far unexcavated area. Additional pottery kilns from the Umayyad period were excavated in 2010 west of Tel Yavne (License No. A-5612).
Kiln 293 was better preserved than the others (Fig. 4). It was ovoid (2.0 × 2.5 m), and both the firebox and the firing chamber floor were extant, mainly in the western part of the kiln. The firebox opening was on the western side of the kiln. A channel (0.6 m wide, 2.0 m deep), in which to place the fuel, was dug in the firebox. Above the channel, three pairs of columns were built to form arches that supported the firing chamber floor; the gaps for the heat transfer were located in the floor above the spaces between the columns. In the firebox and throughout the kiln, all the burnt mud-bricks had hardened and turned white, while the interior of the brick was red and friable. After the kiln fell out of use, industrial waste, comprising burnt ash and pottery fragments, including cooking pot sherds, was discarded here. Later within the Early Islamic period, the kiln was used as a refuse pit.
The construction and dimensions of Kiln 353 were similar to those of Kiln 293, although only the firebox was extant. The opening of the firebox was on its eastern side, opposite the opening of Kiln 293. Here too, industrial waste was discarded, including burnt deposits and pottery sherds, mainly of bag-shaped storage jars dating to the Umayyad period. Sometime later in the Early Islamic period, this kiln was also used as a refuse pit.
Kiln 305, partially excavated, was round (c. 2.0 m diam), and it cut the western wall of the Byzantine, Stratum IV later phase building. The firebox, only partially uncovered, revealed the remains of a fallen arch built of mud-bricks; this may have been an arch formed by two columns to support the firing chamber floor. In the northwestern part of the kiln, part of the firing chamber floor was preserved, with two small, round holes (c. 0.15 m diam), whereby the heat from the firebox passed into the firing chamber. The firing chamber floor is c. 0.5 m lower than the firing chamber floors in the other kilns, and therefore the occupation level here may have been lower. Part of the mud-brick dome that roofed the firing chamber was preserved. The upper part of the kiln was full of fallen mud-bricks, apparently from the collapsed roof. The mud-bricks in this kiln were redder in color than in the other two kilns, perhaps because it was used to fire more delicate vessels, and therefore the fire was hotter here. This kiln also apparently served as a refuse pit after it went out of use.
Stratum II (the Crusader period?). Six pit graves were found, of which only one was excavated. The grave revealed the articulated skeleton of a male about 30 years of age, lying supine on an east–west axis, with hands resting on pelvis. No finds were discovered in the tomb, and the position of the deceased indicates that this was not a Muslim grave. A wall was uncovered near the grave; it is unclear whether this wall was associated with the grave, or whether it was an earlier wall that was disturbed when the grave was dug. The graves are situated between Strata IV and III from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, and Stratum I, the latest stratum at the site, and therefore they may date to the Crusader period. During the Crusader period there was a settlement at Yavne, and a number of battles were fought in the vicinity. Methodical excavation of the area is necessary in order to confirm this suggestion.
Stratum I (the Ottoman period). The remains of a building, built in a general east–west direction, and featuring at least two construction phases, were unearthed (Fig. 5). Two rooms (1, 2), whose foundations were built of medium and small kurkar fieldstones and were mostly preserved for one course, were attributed to the earlier phase. Two other rooms (3, 4), built parallel to and north of Rooms 1 and 2, were attributed to the later phase. Room 3 was built of ashlars in secondary use and plastered with a yellowish plaster, and Room 4 was built of small fieldstones. The different construction methods evident in these two rooms apparently attests that the builders used whatever materials were at hand, either fieldstones, or stones dismantled from a nearby structure. Sherds were found around the building, the latest of which date to the Ottoman period. The Stratum I building sealed the Stratum III Early Islamic-period kilns, and the later builders may not have been aware of the kilns. They were certainly not aware of the Stratum IV Byzantine-period remains, as the southern wall of the Stratum I structure was built over a c. 0.5 m thick layer of soil that had accumulated above the northern wall of the Byzantine-period building (Fig. 6).
The earliest remains in the present excavation date to the Byzantine period. At this point, it is not clear whether the Byzantine-period buildings continued in use during the Umayyad period, and were part of the pottery industry complex at the site. Extensive excavations conducted in the past north of the current dig, uncovered remains of buildings, including mosaics, from the Byzantine period, as well as a large complex of pottery kilns, which according to the excavator may have been destroyed in an earthquake in 659 CE (Yannai 2013; Yannai 2014). The Byzantine-period building uncovered in the current excavation, and in the excavation to the northwest, may have been part of the same building complex. It is possible that the kilns exposed in the present excavation, were part of a new industrial zone built after the earthquake, slightly southeast of the earlier one. The Stratum I structure, which overlay and sealed the Stratum III kiln complex, apparently dates to the Ottoman period.