During February–March 2001 an excavation was conducted at the Newe Efrayim neighborhood in Yehud (Permit No. A-3379*; map ref. NIG 18800–22/66000–8; OIG 13800–22/16000–8). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Meqorot Water Company, was directed by G. Birman, with the assistance of V. Shlomi (Area A supervision), Y. Dangur, R. Abu Khalaf, Y. Rahamim and A. Lavi (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography), E. Kamaisky (pottery restoration), R. Vinitsky (metallurgical laboratory), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and H. Tsion-Cinamon (GPS). E. Yannai and R. Kletter assisted in dating the ceramic finds.
Five areas (A–E) were opened across 200 m on the southern side of Highway 461 (Fig. 1), in places where ancient remains had been exposed during an antiquities inspection. Modern disturbances were discerned on the northern and southern sides of all the areas. Other disturbances were noted in the middle of the trial trench in Areas D and E, caused by infrastructures for the installation of electricity, lighting, telephone and cable television wires. Two agricultural installations and a single industrial installation, dating to the Byzantine period, were exposed in Areas A–C. Walls and floors that could not be dated were exposed in Area D, as well as finds from the Persian, Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. Remains from the Early Islamic period were uncovered in Area E, which was quite disturbed. The site had previously been excavated by B. Isserlin (Permit No. &-14/1958).
Area A. Two collecting vats of a winepress were exposed 10 m apart, in an area of very soft, sandy soil. The southern half of a square collecting vat (1.3 m long; Fig. 2) was revealed at a depth of just 0.2–0.3 m below surface. The vat’s southern, eastern and western walls (W1, W2, W4) were built of medium-sized stones bonded with mortar and their exterior face consisted of a row of small stones. The walls were preserved 0.85 m high and plaster was applied to their interior surface. The exterior face of W2 was adjoined by a wall (W3) built of large fieldstones that were dressed on the side that abutted W2. The latter may have been a retaining wall that was meant to prevent the collapse of the installation, which was built on soft and sandy soil. Two plastered steps descended from a treading floor, which extended to the west and was not preserved, to the collecting vat. The bottom of the vat was paved with white tesserae characteristic of industrial installations, and a circular, plastered settling pit was installed in its center.
The ceramic finds recovered from the collecting vat included open bowls (Fig. 3:1), jars (Fig. 3:2) and the body fragments of cooking pots and jugs, dating to the end of the Byzantine period.
The second circular collecting vat (Fig. 4) had been damaged on its northern and southern sides by modern activity. The curved wall (height 0.35 m) that enclosed the vat was built of small stones bonded with mortar and coated with a layer of plaster (thickness 1.5–2.0 cm) on both sides. The bottom of the vat (diam. 1.5 m) was paved with 24 concentric circles of white tesserae, characteristic of industrial installations; a settling pit (diam. 0.6 m, depth 0.27 m) in its center was also paved with a white mosaic. A few fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Byzantine period were retrieved from the collecting vat.
Area B. An elliptical plastered installation (1.5 × 2.5 m; Fig. 5) was exposed in soft sandy soil, 20 m southeast of the circular collecting vat in Area A. The sides of the installation were preserved 0.1–0.2 m high, except for the northern side that had been destroyed by modern activity. The installation was built on a layer of medium-sized fieldstones coated with a layer of plaster. A round, hewn pit (diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.4 m) in the middle of the installation, intended to convey liquid to a plastered channel, was also coated with plaster. The installation may have been used for soaking cloth or washing skins.
The installation contained fragments of kraters (Fig. 6:1), jars (Fig. 6:2, 3) and cooking pots (Fig. 6:4), as well as bowl rims and potsherds that dated to the Byzantine period. Other finds included the base of a glass bottle; numerous shells that were worked along their edges, perhaps for use as inlays (such finds are known from Byzantine-period workshops); a coin dating to the fourth–fifth centuries CE (IAA No. 92556) and a small lump of metal. A glass drop, probably from glass production debris, was found outside the installation.
Area C. A half square that was opened 60 m east of Area B consisted of a refuse pit in soft, sandy earth, which contained a large quantity of potsherds mixed with gray soil. The ceramic assemblage, dating to the Byzantine period, included Late Roman C bowls (Fig. 7:1–3), a bowl, (Fig. 7:4) and a lamp (Fig. 7:5), as well as fragments of glass vessels, including rims of bowls, wine glasses with hollowed ring bases, oil lamps with hollowed stems and bottles, dating to the Byzantine period. A small chunk of raw green glass that evidenced glass production in the area was also found.
Area D. Seven squares were opened in a trial trench (width 2.5 m; Fig. 8) dug in brown soil and extending for 40 m adjacent to the highway. The entire area had previously been disturbed by modern activity but some architectural remains were preserved, including two identified building phases. At the western end of the trench were building remains attributed to the first phase that consisted of Walls 2 and 3, oriented southeast–northwest and Wall 1 that was perpendicular to them and delineated two spaces (Loci 602, 603). The walls were built of medium-sized fieldstones, reinforced with small stones without bonding material (width 0.6 m, preserved height 0.3–0.4 m). A stone socket was discerned in W1. Two circular clay ovens with traces of soot inside them were placed above the small-stone floor of the eastern space (L603). Above the earthen floor in the western space (L602) were fragments of pottery vessels, remains of a tabun (oven) and charcoal.
Three other walls (W4, W6, W7; width 0.4 m, height 0.5 m) that enclosed a room, had a similar orientation as Walls 1 and 2 and were built of medium-sized fieldstones, reinforced with small stones. Remains of a tabun and traces of soot were discerned on a tamped-earthen floor that abutted W6 on the west.
A building in the eastern side of the trench is ascribed to the second phase of construction. A floor (L606) of large flagstones, overlaid with pottery vessels and metal artifacts, was exposed.
The ceramic finds from Area D are presented as a mixed assemblage. All the squares in this area were cut by modern trenches that did not leave any finds in situ or in a clear stratigraphic context. The Persian, Byzantine, Early Islamic and Mamluk periods appear in this assemblage. A base and rim of a mortaria (Fig. 9:1, 2) and a base of an Attic juglet that is black slipped on the interior and exterior (Fig. 9:3) are attributed to the Persian period. The vessels dating to the Byzantine period include bowls, kraters and cooking pots (Fig. 9:4–6), as well as fragments of jars, jugs and juglets. The Early Islamic-period ceramics consists of kraters (Fig. 9:8–10), holemouth jars (Fig. 9:11), jars with a short neck (Fig. 9:12) and buff-ware vessels, namely a bowl, a jar rim and a juglet (Fig. 9:7, 13, 14) and also fragments of bowls, jars and cooking pots. The Mamluk-period pottery includes bowls painted white on the exterior and glazed bright green, dark green and brown on the interior and exterior (Fig. 9:15–20).
Three coins were recovered from this area; two are dated to the Umayyad period (IAA 92558, 92559) and one to the Mamluk period. The scant glass artifacts include a chunk of raw bluish-green glass that may point to the occurrence of glass production in the region. The metal artifacts consist of nine nails and a fragment of an earring.
Area E. A single square, completely disturbed, was excavated east of Area D. Scattered collapse stones were found in the brown soil and ceramic finds dating to the Early Islamic period, including open bowls (Fig.10:1, 2, 4), a glazed bowl (Fig. 10:3) and a jar rim (Fig. 10:5).