In January 2018, a salvage excavation was conducted at Neve Yaraq in Lod (Permit No. A-8213; map ref. 190740/651884; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a residential building. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the landowner, was directed by Y. Agmon (photography), with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), P. Gendelman (guidance and ceramic consultation), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), R. Brin (final drafting), A. ʽAzab (IAA Central District Archaeologist), I. Korenfeld (IAA Ramla District Archaeologist) and I. Jonish (preliminary inspections and safety).
Tel Lod, an artificial hill in the north of the city of Lod, rises on the southern bank of Nahal Ayalon. It comprises archaeological remains from the Pottery Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze, Iron, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Early Islamic, Medieval and Ottoman periods (Segal 2012; Masarwa 2015).
A segment of a wall built of partially hewn stones and floor bedding dating from the late Byzantine period were discovered at the southeastern fringe of the tell (Fig. 2).
The wall segment (W101; Figs. 3–5), built in a general northeast–southwest alignment, was preserved to the height of a single course set on a foundation (length 1.85, width 0.65 m, height 0.75 m). The wall was built of large, roughly hewn stones (averaging 0.6 m) on its northwest face and debesh of small to medium-sized stones set in gray plaster on its southeastern face; this face had apparently been damaged and only part of it was preserved. The wall was laid on a foundation of small to medium-sized stones that was c. 0.15 m wider than the wall itself and was constructed of two courses (thickness 0.3 m). Where the course of the wall and the foundation met, traces of whitish-gray plaster were discerned; the plaster was probably used to seal the joins.
The floor bedding (L105; Fig. 5), composed of potsherds and small stones embedded in tamped, light-colored sandy soil, abutted the west face of the wall’s foundation. The bedding, which was as thick as the foundation, covered a layer of pale sandy soil devoid of finds (L106), probably a natural deposit.
The pottery (Fig. 6) represents several occupation periods in the nearby region. The various pottery types collected while cleaning the area and above the wall (L100, L102) included a Middle Bronze Age II jug/juglet (Fig. 6:1), an Iron Age holemouth jar (Fig. 6:2), a Persian bowl (Fig. 6:3) and a Hellenistic jar (Fig. 6:4). The finds collected while excavating the clayey soil accumulation between the highest part of the wall and the floor bedding (L103) was of a general Byzantine-period date (Not drawn). On Bedding 105 were potsherds dating to the Late Byzantine period were recovered (L104). The finds from the Byzantine level included bowls (Fig. 6:5–10), a cooking pot (Fig. 6:11), a casserole (Fig. 6:12) and a mortarium (Fig. 6:13). Large storage jars, some of which were bag-shaped type (Fig. 6:14, 15), were also discovered in the area.
The potsherds from the earlier periods (L100) may have been swept to the site from adjacent areas, possibly from those that were excavated in the past (Segal 2012). The Byzantine and late Byzantine pottery found in and above the floor bedding indicate the existence of trade relations, as shown, among others, by Phocaean bowls (Fig. 6:5–10) imported from the region of modern-day Turkey and the mortarium (Fig. 6:13) imported from northern Syria.
The excavation yielded traces of a building dating from the late Byzantine period and expands our understanding of the settlement’s extent during this period. The nature of the remains from the period—the well-built architecture and imported ware—hints at a rather affluent population. Settlement remains from earlier periods were not encountered in the excavated area, implying that the margins of the tell did not extend this far south during these periods.