During July–September 2005 excavations were conducted in Yehud (Permit No. A-4533*; map ref. NIG 18992–19000/65995–66000; OIG 13992–14000/15995–16000). The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Maslavi Construction Company, was directed by I. Milevski, with the participation of E. Bachar and Y. Ohayon (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), C. Hersch (pottery and glass drawing), O. Marder (flint implements), L. Zeiger (flint drawing), N. Katsnelson (glass), L. Horwitz and H. Mienis (archaeozoology), Y. Nagar (anthropology), A. Re’em, T. Kanias and A. Dekel (Central Region).
The excavations (80 × 100 m) were located in the center of Yehud (Zvi Yishay and Yoseftal Streets), c. 200 m northeast of Tel Yehud. The northern part of the area was previously examined (‘Atiqot 42:25–34). Four excavation areas (A–D; Fig. 1) were opened and four probe trenches (T1–T4) were dug.
In Area A three squares were opened (I–III from north to south; 35.9 m above sea level; to a depth of 0.5 m; Fig. 2) in which an undulating layer of clay soil (thickness c. 0.2–0.3 m) was discovered that contained a large number of potsherds, several animal bones, flint implements and fragments of basalt bowls from the Chalcolithic period (end of the fifth millennium BCE). A number of medium-sized stones were also discovered that may be indicative of building remains.
In Square I a level of potsherds and wadi cobbles (L107) was identified; below it, at a depth of c. 0.3 m, a layer of clayey soil was exposed that contained carbonates and was devoid of artifacts. The layer of finds (L106) in Square III was thicker (c. 0.4 m). A modern septic pit (L104) was also discovered in the square.
Trench T1 (2.0 × 0.6 × 2.0 m) was located east of Area A. No archaeological remains were discovered in it.
A square was opened in the southeastern corner of Area B. Finds were revealed in the clayey soil layer (35.75 m above sea level). The thin nature of the stratum (c. 0.05 m) is unclear; it contained a large quantity of potsherds from the Chalcolithic period, a few from the Intermediate Bronze Age and copious amounts of mud-brick material. The eastern side of the square had been disturbed by a modern trench.
In Area C, on the eastern side of the site (between Areas A and B), two squares (I–II) were opened. Artifacts were discovered in a brown undulating layer of clayey soil (thickness 0.6 m; 36.0 m above sea level); included were a very large quantity of potsherds from the Chalcolithic period, animal bones, a few flint implements, stone objects (Fig. 3), mud-brick fragments and river pebbles. The northern side of Square II was damaged by a modern trench.
Trench T2 (3.0 × 0.6 × 2.5 m) was located south of Area C. No remains were discovered.
In Area D two squares were opened in the southwestern corner of the site, in an area where a concentration of human bones was discerned that had been damaged at the beginning of the construction work (Fig. 4). In Square IV, in the northwestern part of the area, two adjacent rectangular cist tombs were exposed (Loci 404, 405; 2.0 × 2.5 m; Fig. 4:I). They were aligned along an east-west axis and were built of different sized dressed stones. The southern tomb (L404) contained a tamped dark brown soil (thickness c. 0.3 m) fill with a scatter of human bones representing at least nine individuals, together with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman period potsherds, glass vessels from the Byzantine period and modern roof tiles. The southern side of the tomb had been damaged during the course of earthmoving work. The northern tomb (L405) contained masonry stone collapse (thickness c. 0.2 m), scattered human bones representing at least two individuals, potsherds of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods and a number of pieces of metal and stone jewelry. Fragments of ceramic pipes, plastered sherds and glass industrial debris from the Byzantine period were found in the fill that covered the tombs (L403), indicating that a settlement might have existed there.
In the square to the south of the tombs (II) a single stone and a number of potsherds from the Chalcolithic and Byzantine periods and modern era were discovered. A layer of clayey soil (L402; 37.2 m above sea level) was discovered that was devoid of finds and contained carbonates to a depth of c. 2 m below the surface level.
Trench T3 (2. 0 × 0.6 × 2.0 m) was located north of Area D. No remains were discovered.
Trench T4 (2.0 × 0.6 × 2.0 m) was located east of Area D. A few potsherds were discovered in the upper 5 cm, whereas the clayey soil below was devoid of finds.
The following picture is derived from the documentation of Section S1 (Fig. 5) at the eastern end of the site (opposite Area C) and the cores that were drilled to the foundations of the buildings and their comparison with the excavation results. The archaeological stratum that is located between 2.5–3.0 m below the surface level is composed of brown clayey soil. In Section S1, Byzantine potsherds were identified in the upper part of the layer and Chalcolithic potsherds were in its bottom part. Below this stratum there is a layer of clayey soil that is devoid of finds which reaches a depth of 7 m. The layers of hamra and sand begin below the clay.
Pottery: The potsherds that were discovered were not worn and occurred in large concentrations; they attest to the existence of a site, the nature of which is not easily understood because of damage caused by earthmoving activity. The assemblages are similar in both Areas A and C; however, they are not identical. It is not possible to determine if the differences are indicative of a functional or chronological difference. The potsherds include various-sized open V-shaped bowls and a number of small bowls decorated with a red-painted stripe on the rim (Figs. 6:1–3; 7:1, 2), small, deep, carinated bowls (Fig. 7:3–5), and vessels with a pedestal such as bowls and/or chalices (Fig. 6:4, 5); most of the latter belong to the connection between the vessel and the pedestal. A large number of cornet bases were found, particularly in Area A (Figs. 6:6, 7; 7:6), as well as several lug handles (e.g. Fig. 7:13) that belong to small bowls or cornets. Other ceramic finds that were recovered included a large quantity of holemouth vessels (Figs. 6:8; 7:7), large neckless pithoi with molded rims (Figs. 6:9–11; 7:8, 9) and jars with long or short necks and everted rims (Figs. 6:12; 7:10, 11). Plastic ornamentations appear on the large pithoi and on the jars. Fragments of churns (Fig. 7:14) were also found in Area C.
Flint: Forty-one flint implements were found including primary flakes, flakes and a few blades-bladelets. Three cores and a few denticulated tools were recovered, including two blades and a flake. It should be mentioned that five items were found that had a pale yellow patina; these were knapped using the Levallois technique and are ascribed to the Lower Paleolithic period.
Stone Tools: A large number of stone tools were found, consisting mostly of pounders made of river pebbles which apparently came from nearby Nahal Yehud. Basalt millstones and bowls (Fig. 8:1, 2) and limestone bowls (Fig. 8:3) were also discovered. The basalt bowls belong to a group of pedestaled vessels that have patterns incisid on the rim. Similar potsherds previously found in the exploratory trenches probably belong to the same vessels (‘Atiqot 42:29).
Weights: Two weights were found, one a ceramic loomweight (Fig. 8:4), the other made of basalt (Fig. 8:5).
Faunal Remains and Shells: A number of animal bones (65) and two Mediterranean Sea shells (Glycymeris insubrica) were found. All of the bones were covered with lime encrustations; most of them (56) were found in Area C. The faunal remains represent cattle (Bos taurus, 74%), pig (Sus scrofa, 14%), goat (Capra hircus) and sheep (Ovis aries, together 12%). In addition an adult human tibia was found in Area A together with animal bones; the archaeological context of the tibia could not be ascertained. It was not possible to determine the age and sex of these bones except for a cow which was identified as young, and a goat (2–3 years of age). Despite the small number of bones and the partial sifting that was done, the species represented in the assemblage match faunal assemblages of the Chalcolithic period that were studied by C. Grigson.
Intermediate Bronze Age (EB IV)
A few potsherds found in Area A and B were identified as jars from the Intermediate Bronze Age. The type of jars and decorations (Fig. 9:1–3) is representative of the “Southern Group”. The original context of the artifacts is unclear; they may, however, have been connected to the tombs next to the tell (HA-ESI 116
Skeletal remains: Finds from the Byzantine period discovered in Area D included animal bones and a few glass fragments. In Area D poorly preserved human bones were found scattered in two tombs and in the fill that covered them (Loci 404, 405). The bones were examined in the field by Y. Nagar and were reinterred in their tombs. They represent at least nine individuals. The bones from L404 represent six individuals, among them a boy (c. 5 years old) and five adults (one 20–30, one 30–40, and three >15 years old). A male was identified among the adult individuals. The bones from Locus 405 represent at least three adult individuals (15–20, 30–40, and >15 years old); at least one female was identified among them. The tomb was not excavated in its entirety.
Pottery: Most of the potsherds discovered are body fragments of storage jars; also identified were rims and necks of jars dating to the sixth century CE (Fig. 9: 4, 5).
Glass: Fragments of two cosmetic vessels and bluish-green glass debris were found that are indicative of a glass industry in the region. The vessels are made of two parallel tubes used to hold kohl; they belong to vessels that were extremely common in the fourth–sixth centuries CE. Similar vessels have suspended handles and are decorated. One of the vessels (Fig. 9:6) is made of thick pale-green glass and is undecorated. Another vessel (Fig. 9:7) is made of greenish-blue mold-blown glass and is decorated with vertical ridges. Vessels with this decoration are rare in the country.
Three principal habitation periods were identified at the site: Chalcolithic (constituting most of the finds), Intermediate Bronze and Byzantine period. The Chalcolithic settlement probably extended across most of the area; however, it was not possible to determine the nature of it because its remains were removed during earthmoving work. The assemblages of pottery, flint, stone items and fauna are all consistent with Ghassulian assemblages. The Intermediate Bronze Age is represented by a few finds of unclear provenance, whereas in the Byzantine period the site was used as a cemetery of a settlement whose location has not been determined.