Stratum II. Two walls (W109 [Sqs B2, C2] and W131 [Sq A2]) were attributed to this layer. Although they were poorly preserved—only one course of stone and in some places just a foundation trench (see Fig. 2)—it was possible to discern that they were part of one long continuous wall (Sqs A2–D2) built of unworked kurkar stones (up to 0.3 m in size). The wall was dated to the Umayyad period based on ceramic finds discovered between the stones and inside the foundation trench, and a coin from this period (post-reform; IAA 138006) found between the stones. Apparently, this long but crooked wall was an enclosure wall of some sort of compound, possibly a farm.
Stratum I. A rectangular installation (L107; 0.7 × 1.2 m; Fig. 6)—two pools, one higher than the other (Fig. 3: Section 3–3)—was exposed in Sq A1. The installation was made of gray mortar mixed with shells and grains of stone. Liquid flowed from an opening in the wall of the upper pool into the lower pool. The fill in the lower pool contained much rust and several metal items. Based on the mortar used in the installation, it should be dated to the end of the Ottoman period (late nineteenth–early twentieth centuries CE). Two pottery sherds from this period were also found in the installation: a plate decorated with yellow stripes (Fig. 4:27) and a fragment of a tobacco pipe (not drawn).
In addition to these finds, a variety of artifacts were discovered—fragments of glass vessels, pieces of marble, a whetstone, nails, a flint core and animal bones—none of which can be attributed to a specific stratum at the site. An extremely rare find was a fragment of a portable ceramic altar (Fig. 7) dating to the Hellenistic or Roman periods. Clay altars have been found at other sites in Israel, such as Tel Dor (Erlich 2010:135) and Caesarea (Gendelman 2015:47–50). Other finds include an Iron Age bowl (Fig. 4:1); bowls (Fig. 4:10, 11), amphoras (Fig. 4:12) and jars (Fig. 4:13) from the Roman period; and imported bowls (Fig. 4:24–26) from the Crusader period.
Rhodian Handle
Gerald Finkielsztejn
The handle of a Rhodian amphora (L139 [not in plan]; B1048; Fig. 8) dating to the Hellenistic period was found on a habitation level in Stratum V. The handle was stamped with a rectangular seal impression bearing a Greek inscription: [Ἀ] γ̣αθοκλεῦς ̣, the name of the amphora’s fabricant, Agathokles II. This name usually appears on amphoras, while the vessel’s other handle bears the name of the person who served in the role of the annual eponym in Rhodes, the yearly priest of the god Helios, which allows the handle to be dated with a great deal of accuracy. The name of the potter appears next to the names of two eponyms, Φιλόδαμος II until Ἀγέστρατος II, and thus, the handle dates to 183–161 BCE.
Oren Ackerman
The geomorphological survey investigated the general sediment stratigraphy of the site, which is composed of a cross bedding of sandy clay soil laminae and dark gray to brown sandy sediments. A representative section was investigated in the northern edge of Square A1. Three main units were distinguished, detailed as follows, from top to bottom:
Unit 1. Dark gray (10YR 3/1), sandy clay sediment in grumic structure. This unit yielded sherds dated to the Byzantine and Umayyad periods. (Most of the unit was moved prior to the archaeological excavations).
Unit 2. Architectural remnants belonging to Byzantine-period Stratum III.
Unit 3. Clayey sediments interlacing with sandy laminae. The sandy portion, dark grayish brown (10YR 4/2), thickens to the west (0.3–0.9 m depth); it has a crumbly to soft crossed laminar layer. The clayey portion is brownish-dark gray (10YR 4/2) with a prismatic to semi-blocky structure of clay that is sub angular flat and smooth, secondary calcium carbonate sediment and traces of glay. The latter is evidence of alternating wet and dry conditions. In this unit, Hellenistic sherds were found.
It seems that the site underwent clay and sand accumulation processes. The clay may be evidence of swampy conditions, while the sand accumulation may be explained by the site’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea shore. The ceramic finds from the Hellenistic to the Umayyad periods reveal a that sediment layer of 1.3 m in 600 years (at least), accumulating at a rate of 0.22 m per 100 years. The upper clay unit is evidence of the natural accumulation of sediments after the site was abandoned.
The excavation exposed another part of Yafo’s suburbs. These findings contribute to our understanding of the array of neighborhoods that existed outside the city walls from the Hellenistic to the Early Islamic periods, and again in the Ottoman period. The remains in the Hellenistic-period layer (Stratum V) join the finds discovered in a nearby excavation on Jerusalem Boulevard (Jakoel and Marcus 2013), together revealing the existence of a large area outside the city walls during this period. The most significant among the finds were the remains of a large building from the Byzantine period, whose plan may have been apsidal, and remains from the Early Islamic period. The small finds feature a very rare item—a fragment of a portable altar from the Hellenistic or Roman periods. Another discovery of note, attributed to the Ottoman period, is an installation of a type that was not exposed until this excavation. The pottery sherds from the Iron Age and the Roman and Crusader periods indicate that some sort of activity occurred here during these periods. The results of the geomorphological analysis of the excavation area (Ackerman, above) show that this area was in a buffer zone situated between a stream or marsh in the east and the coastal area in the west. This singular location necessitated the protection of the buildings’ foundations from moisture, as can be seen in the thickened foundations of the large building in the layer dating to the Byzantine period (Stratum III).