During July 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Lily Sharon Park north of Tel ‘Akko (Permit No. A-4410; map ref. NIG 208530–670/758662–80; OIG 158530–670/258662–80), in the wake of damage caused to antiquities during development works. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Yefe Nof Company on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation, was directed by H. Abu ‘Uqsa, with the assistance of A. Shapiro (GPS), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology), L. Porat (pottery restoration), H. Smithline (studio photography) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
Extensive excavations were conducted between 2003 and 2007 along Highway 85, connecting ‘Akko to Karmi’el, in preparation of moving the road to an underground route further east. The excavation in the Lily Sharon Park was part of this project, designated as Area H. Seven other areas were opened (A–G; Fig. 1). Areas A, C, D and E, located west of Tel ‘Akko and east of the railroad track, yielded a large cemetery that dated to the Roman period; a few tombs were found in Area G, northwest of the tell. Area H was subdivided into two secondary areas: the eastern car park (Area H1), where eight tombs were exposed and the western car park (Area H2), where several tombs from different periods were damaged.
Area H1 consisted of a single built tomb and seven simple pit graves, whose contents were not excavated. Remains of at least seven individuals were discerned in the pit graves; five were male adults whose exact ages are unclear. The interred were laid on the back, aligned east–west, with their head at the western end. The hands of two individuals were placed alongside the body, but it was impossible to determine the position of the hands of the other deceased. Since no other artifacts were recovered from the graves it is impossible to date them.
Area H2 was damaged prior to the excavation, which made it impossible to establish how many graves it contained. Pottery vessels from different periods were collected from this area, including a bowl decorated with red bands from the Late Bronze II (Fig. 2:1); a Base-Ring I Bilbil from Late Bronze I–II (Fig. 2:2); a northern type chalice from Iron II (Fig. 2:3); a jar with a straight shoulder from the Persian period (Fig. 2:4); three spindle bottles (Fig. 2:5–7), one of which (No. 5) is slipped red, from the Hellenistic period; and a Kefar Hananya Type 1B bowl (Fig. 2:8), dating from the end of the first or beginning of second century until the middle of the fourth century CE. Two glass candlestick bottles (Fig. 2:9, 10), which are frequently found in tombs from the first–second centuries CE and even the third century CE, were also found. Other artifacts in this area included fragments of ceramic coffins and coffin lids (Fig. 3), one of which is decorated with reddish patterns (Fig. 4). Similar coffins were discovered in the northern cemetery of ‘Akko, dating to the Roman period (first–second centuries CE) and at ‘Uza, where they dated to the second–third centuries CE.
In light of these finds, it appears that the hill north of Tel ‘Akko, where the park is located, was used as the cemetery of the settlement on the tell for a prolonged period—from the Late Bronze Age until the Roman period.