From December 1997 to March 1998 an excavation was conducted on Yekutiel Adam Street in Ashqelon, c. 300 m from the coastline (Permit No. A-2784*; map ref. NIG 1590/6218; OIG 1090/1218), in the wake of development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Economic Corporation of Ashqelon, was directed by D. Varga, with the assistance of V. Essman (surveying), T. Kornfeld (drafting) and Y. Lavi (photography).
Two arcosolia tombs, dating to the Byzantine period, were exposed. The western tomb, located along the line of the development work, was excavated.
The tomb (4.0 × 5.3 m, height 2.75 m) comprised a vault with a single cell. It was built of dressed kurkar blocks (average size 0.2 × 0.3 × 0.5 m; Fig. 1) and the walls were coated on both faces with a single layer of light gray plaster. The ceiling was composed of cement mixed with various-sized kurkar stones and was also lined with light gray plaster.
Two plastered steps of dressed kurkar stones led to the tomb from the entrance in the south, which was accessed via a flagstone-paved vestibule (Fig. 2), enclosed with two retaining walls that prevented sand from spilling inside (W3, W4).
A stone slab that served as a door was set in the tomb’s entrance (Fig. 3). The door, which has a circular iron handle, was not affixed to hinges, indicating that the tomb had been breeched and plundered in the past.
The meager finds consisted of some poorly preserved bones due to water seeping in, as well as several Gaza-type jar fragments and a few body fragments of glass vessels. These probably did not originate in the tomb, but were apparently swept inside via the breach left after the looting of the tomb.
Based on the potsherds and the similarity to other tombs excavated in the region, the tomb is dated to the Byzantine period.