During March 2001 a salvage excavation was conducted at the Newe Herzog Yeshiva, northeast of Ashdod (Permit No. A-3387*; map ref. NIG 17052–7/63686–90; OIG 12052–7/13686–90) in the wake of damage caused to antiquities during the course of construction work. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by P. Fogel, with the assistance of A. Bouchenino (area supervision), H. Lavi (administration), V. Essman and P. Pirsky (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography). Y. Nagar (physical anthropology), N. Zak (drafting), E. Altmark (metallurgical laboratory), M. Ben-Gal (pottery restoration), M. Shuiskaya-Arnov (pottery drawing) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Nineteen cist graves (average dimensions 0.5 × 2.0 m, height 0.6 m, wall thickness 0.10–0.15; Fig. 1) were documented and 16 others were exposed during an antiquities inspection that was conducted at the site after the excavation.
The excavation was carried out inside pits that were dug by the building contractor (Fig. 1:A–H, J, K).
The tombs, discovered at a depth of c. 1.2 m below surface, were mostly oriented east–west and two were aligned north–south (T7, T19). Their walls were built of dressed rectangular slabs of beach rock (Figs. 2–5). Almost all the tombs were found plundered.
The finds from the tombs were meager, due to extensive destruction, including mostly jar body fragments from the Early Roman period. Two almost complete jars were found in Tomb T20 (Fig. 6:1) and near Tomb T19 (Fig. 6:2). Piriform bottles (Fig. 6:3) came from Tombs T2 and T7. A bronze coin of Agrippa I minted in Jerusalem in 42/43 CE (IAA 95610) was retrieved from Tomb T16. Fragments of bronze earrings (Fig. 7:2) and a piece of a bronze ring (Fig. 7:1) were uncovered in Tomb T2. A few fragments of long bones in Tombs T1 and T16 are of no value in establishing the gender or age of the deceased.
The ceramic and numismatic finds indicate that the cemetery should be dated to the Early Roman period. Preliminary probes performed by O. Segal exposed remains of a magnificent site that is dated to the Roman period and includes numerous architectural remains, such as mosaics and marble facades, as well as pottery vessels dating to the first century CE.