In December 2012, a trial excavation was conducted in a well at 4–6 Yefet Street in Yafo (License No. B-394/2012; map ref. 177082–96/662453–64). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, was directed by O. Tal and R. Vunsh, with the assistance of Y. Melzer (Survey of Israel), Y. Arbel, Y. Baram, D. Barkan, Y. Drey, Y. Levy, I. Milevski, M. Ajami and L. Rauchberger.
The well was discovered in an alcove beneath a staircase during the renovation of a building by the owner, Mr. Walid Abulafia. The well shaft was cleaned and pieces of metal dating to the early twentieth century were found in it. During the excavation, the bottom of the well was cleaned of modern debris. An iron retaining ring was exposed that was positioned on the outside of the bottom course of stones. The ring served as a foundation for a base around which the stone courses were built. It was probably meant to prevent a collapse during the construction phase and block sand as much as possible from passing into the well while pumping. Cleaning the well was done utilizing an electric winch hoisting sacks filled with excavated debris, after which the depth of the well was measured from the wellhead to the bottom course. The data was calibrated to the Israeli Datum by a team from the Survey of Israel.
The well was round (diam. c. 1.55 m; Figs. 1, 2) and built of 36 kurkar stone courses. The wellhead was situated at an elevation of 10.08 m above the mean sea level. The base of the bottom course was situated 8 cm above sea level. Although modern refuse was cleaned from the bottom of the shaft, the well is part of a building documented from the nineteenth or early twentieth century, thus suggesting that the well is c. 110 years old. The building where the well is located incorporates parts of the Jerusalem gatehouse in its walls (Arbel and Rauchberger 2011). This structure was erected in the first or second decade of the nineteenth century CE, when the city’s fortifications were rehabilitated by Mohammed Abu Nabot and the British following its conquest by Napoleon and his retreat. This gatehouse appears in its entirety in a photograph taken by Bonfils in the 1870s, in which the structure where the well is situated is missing. Since the well was apparently dug sometime after the building was erected, most probably between the 1880s or 1890s and the first decade of the twentieth century CE, that is the probable date of the well as well.