During September–November 2002 salvage excavations were conducted at Holot Yavne (Permit Nos. A-3731, A-3858; map ref. NIG 17222–5/6399–402; OIG 12222–5/1399–402), following the discovery of antiquities during the course of infrastructure work carried out by the Meqorot Water Company. The excavations, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by Meqorot, which provided considerable assistance, were directed by A, Gorzalczany and D. Barkan, with the assistance of L. Yihye and L. Zak (area supervision), R. Abu Halaf and Y. Dangor (administration), V. Essman, V. Pirsky and D. Porotzky (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), M. Fischer and G. Finkielsztejn (epigraphy) and M. Molokondov (antiquities inspection and general assistance).
The site was discovered by P. Fogel during antiquities inspection in an area that was covered with sand dunes. Removing the dunes exposed a layer of hamra and clay soil, pockets of kurkar and beachrock. The ancient remains were scattered extensively in a layer between the sand and the hamra. Remains were discovered in five of the six opened areas (A–E, S).
Two squares were opened; occupation levels, containing ash, animal bones and potsherds ascribed to the Persian and Hellenistic periods, were exposed. Mud-brick material was discerned but no distinct walls were found. A pumice fragment that probably originated from the Aegean Sea area was found.
Two whole and two half excavation squares, revealing several walls that may belong to one building, were opened. The walls, built of indigenous fieldstones, were preserved several courses high. The building was abutted on the east by a bedding of small round fieldstones, which was all that survived of a floor that was overlaid with potsherds from the Persian and Hellenistic periods. Remains of another floor’s bedding were composed of different-sized kurkar stones (Fig. 1). Numerous potsherds from the Persian period, including jars, a mortarium and an imported Attic oil lamp, were found on that floor.
An occupation level to the west of the building contained two well-preserved clay ovens (diam. 0.4–0.5 m, wall thickness 4–6 cm; Fig. 2), as well as ash, animal bones and potsherds dating to the Persian period. A coin (IAA No. 96836) struck in the mint of Sidon and dating to the years 370–350 BCE, was retrieved from the fill that covered the ovens. Occupation levels and other ovens were exposed in the western part of the area, which also yielded a bronze coin struck in Alexandria (IAA No. 96834) and dating to Ptolemy II (285–246 BCE), two similar coins (IAA Nos. 96932, 96835) and another coin that was probably minted in Cyprus and is dated to the fourth–third centuries BCE (IAA No. 96833).
Three squares were opened and several probes were conducted. A trial sounding that was dug by mechanical equipment revealed a kurkar–built installation whose purpose is unclear. Two construction phases were discerned in the adjacent square, dating to the Early Islamic period, based on the ceramic finds. The pottery finds included bowls, fragments of heavy kraters decorated with combing, jars, juglets and lamps decorated in relief. The other finds consisted of fragments of glass vessels, cosmetic paraphernalia, a fibula and a bronze chain, iron arrowhead and a bronze funnel (IAA No. 2204/2005; Fig. 3) in an excellent state of preservation that was used for filling lamps with oil. Fragments of grindstones and millstones attest to the domestic nature of the area.
A later pit that contained much ash and potsherds dating to the Mamluk period was discerned in the southern part of the square.
Several hearths and refuse pits were found. The finds were quite meager and consisted of potsherds from the Mamluk period.
The remains of unarticulated bones were exposed inside a layer of sand. Their deteriorated condition precluded ascertaining the age or gender of the deceased. Beachrock slabs were discerned nearby and next to them was a basalt grindstone. Two well preserved bronze bowls from the Persian period were discovered on surface. One of the bowls is fluted (IAA No. 2203/2005; Fig. 4) and the other is shallow, with incising on its rim, which may possibly be traces of writing. A circular well, lined with stones, was noted next to and outside the area slated for development; it was not excavated. Two loom weights, bracelets, earrings, cosmetic spatulas, a fibula, bronze chain and the stamped handle of a Rhodian jar were found in its environs.