During February 2001, a salvage excavation was conducted in the ‘Ad Halom Industrial Zone (Permit No. A-3373*; map ref. NIG 16742–54/62956–66; OIG 11742–54/12956–66), prior to the construction of a factory. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by P. Nahshoni (field photography), with the assistance of H. Lavi and E. Lavi (administration), A. Hajian and V. Pirsky (surveying), S. Lavi (pottery restoration), I. Dudin (find drawing) and D. Varga.
The site is located on the western fringes of Tel Ashdod, along the border of the sand dunes, c. 300 m west of Area G (M. Dothan, The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land
. Vol. 1:93), c. 100 m southwest of the ‘Persian wheel’ (saqiye
) installation (HA-ESI
110:86) and c. 350 m southwest of the Assyrian palace (HA-ESI 118
: Fig. 1).
Nineteen cist tombs were exposed in the area (65 sq m); the tombs were not excavated (Fig. 2). They were dug into a layer of refuse that contained pottery vessels, ranging from the Late Bronze Age: a cooking pot (Fig. 3:1) and a juglet (Fig. 3:2) to the Roman period: a bowl (Fig. 4:2), a cooking pot (Fig. 4:3), an amphora (Fig. 4:4) and the Byzantine period: a krater (Fig. 4:5) and a jar (Fig. 4:6). A bell-shaped bowl dating to Iron I (Fig. 3:3) was found, but most of the potsherds were from Iron II: a bowl (Fig. 3:4), a krater (Fig. 3:5), jars (Fig. 3:6, 7) and a lamp (Fig. 3:8) and the Persian period: a bowl (Fig. 3:9), an Attic krater (Fig. 3:10), jars (Fig. 3:11,12) and an amphora (Fig.3:13), as well as an Hellenistic flask (Fig. 4:1). The date of the tombs was not ascertained; however, it seems they were from the Byzantine period based on the few Byzantine potsherds (Fig. 4:5, 6), which were the latest artifacts in the fill of the tombs.
The refuse layer (thickness 0.8–1.2 m) had a dark brown color and contained ash, potsherds and bones. The refuse was piled on top of the kurkar bedrock where no other remains of ancient activity were observed, except for ancient quarrying marks on natural bedrock in the southeastern corner of the area. The pottery from the Late Bronze and Iron Ages denote the beginning of activity at the site, but its use as a refuse site is dated to Iron II and the Persian period until the Hellenistic and Roman periods, based on the potsherds.
The tombs (length 1.5–2.4 m, width 0.6–0.8 m; Figs. 2, 5) were dug uniformly in an east–west direction. The rectangular pits were lined with stone slabs, which were covered on top with flat stones, some of which bore traces of plaster, indicating they were masonry stones in secondary use. A section of a marble column that was split lengthwise was used as a covering stone in Tomb 13 (Fig. 6). The absence of some covering stones indicated that the tombs had been plundered in antiquity. One tomb (L109) was completely looted and only its stone lining had survived.
The remains of an infant’s bones were discovered south of and next to Tomb 5, in a shallow grave without a stone lining or covering.
The main use of the place as a refuse site occurred in the Iron Age and the Persian period, continuing into the Hellenistic and Roman periods. During the Byzantine period the place was used as a burial site. The location of the site along the edge of the tell, the absence of any architectural remains and its use as a refuse site and later as a cemetery, attests to the fact that throughout all periods, it was situated beyond the limits of the city of Ashdod.