Stratum IV (Sqs C4 and C6) comprises a quay and city wall. The quay (L166; Sq C4; minimum width 1.1 m, 9 cm asl; Fig. 2) consisted of a smoothed kurkar rock outcrop. In the few spots where there were depressions in the rock, the quay was repaired with appropriately fitted kurkar stones. The quay extended in a north–south direction along the western face of a wall (W165), and probably continues westward, beyond the limits of the excavation. As a result of the extensive use of the quay, the color of the rock blackened. Even today, the quay is submerged when the tide is high.
Wall 165 runs east of the quay and separates it from the slope of the tell. Only one course of the wall was preserved. It is dry-built of haphazardly dressed medium and large kurkar stones (maximum length 0.5 m). Over the years numerous shells have adhered to the rocks and between them. The width of the wall was not ascertained; it protruded westward as much as 0.7 m beneath a later wall (W155; Stratum III).
Based on the ceramic finds recovered from the fill overlying the quay and the wall, we can state that neither of these elements postdate the Byzantine period.
Stratum III (Sqs B1, B6, C1, C4, C6, C7 and D7). A wall (W155), built of ashlars (maximum length 0.5 m) and gray mortar, was exposed. The wall, preserved to a height of six to seven courses (height 1.2–1.3 m; width c. 1.5 m), was unearthed along more than 20 m and extends northward and southward along the waterfront. In Sq C4 the wall founded directly on the earlier wall (W165), but in Sq C6 a fill (more than 0.4 m thick) separated the two; it seems that W165 was destroyed and partially covered with fill when W155 was constructed. Quay 166 was no longer in use and was covered with a layer of gray fill and shells. The western face of W155 bore obvious signs of the effects of the seawater, as it was probably exposed to the waves. The pottery found in fill (thickness 0.6 m) that abutted the lower course of the wall, which was slightly wider than the other courses an obviously served as its foundation, the wall was most likely built no later than the Crusader period. A similar wall discovered in the Armenian Monastery was dated by its excavators to the Early Islamic period at the latest. A path (L121; over 1.2 m wide) constructed of gray mortar (up to 0.2 m thick) placed on the soil with no bedding, ran east and parallel to the wall.
The southeastern corner of a tower was excavated in Sqs C6, C7 and D7 (L200; minimum length from east to west 3.5 m, more than 2.4 m wide from north to south, preserved height 1.2 m; Fig. 3). It was built in a similar manner as W155 and bonded to its western face. The stepped base of the tower, comprising four courses, carried the ground floor. The latter had a thin floor made of gray mortar that covered well-dressed kurkar stones. The tower walls survived to a height of one-two courses above the floor. It was impossible to determine the dimensions and shape of the tower because most of the structure lie outside the limits of the excavation; however, it is obviously was by far larger than the exposed section. A curve to the north in the base of the tower suggests that it was probably round. The tower was located where a bedrock tongue juts out into the sea. This topographic feature formed a northern entrance to the inner anchorage of Yafo harbor, between the bedrock tongue and the rocky crags across from the harbor, known as Andromeda Rock. Thus, the tower protected the entrance to the port where the ancient inner anchorage began. Interestingly, the harbors of the Ottoman and Mandatory periods also had a tongue based of same basis rock.
A well (L183; diameter 0.9 m, depth 2.2 m; Fig. 4) and a water channel (L190) discovered in Sq B6 should be ascribed to this stratum. The well is built of ashlars, in a similar manner to W155 and Tower 200. Two rows of vertical footholds, an eastern one and a western one, were set into its lining. The well is very similar to wells of the Crusader period, such as the one recently discovered in the vicinity of the flea market (Permit No. A-5463); although it continued to be used in the Ottoman period, it is unlike wells of that period, such as those excavated south of Yafo harbor (HA-ESI 123). Channel 190 apparently also belongs to this stratum, since it runs at a lower elevation than channels dated to the Early Ottoman period and was severed by a wall (W201) that dates to the Early Ottoman period. On the other hand, it might have been built after the Crusader period for the temporarily inhabitants the ruined city.
Stratum II. No clear evidence indicates activity at the site between the destruction of Yafo at the end of the Crusader period and the seventeenth century CE. During this period, when Yafo lay in ruin, the lower courses of W155 and Tower 200 could still be discerned to a height of about 1 m above the surface. In the middle of seventeenth century, with the renewal of the settlement in Yafo, extensive filling and leveling took place, as the surface was brought up to the wall tops of W155 and Tower 200. The layers of fill comprise mainly shells and small amounts of gray soil, probably material taken from the nearby seashore. They contained fragments of Ottoman pottery as well as sherds from earlier periods. A building complex, comprising two rows of rooms (a1–a5 in the east, c1–c5 in the west), was constructed above the layers of fill. The rooms had massive walls (width 1.0–1.2 m) built of two rows of ashlars with a debesh core in between. The open space between the two rows of rooms served as a large courtyard or a street (more than 20 m long, up to 7.5 m wide). A stone plaque engraved with an Armenian inscription that dates the construction of the complex to 1651 was discovered on one of the walls of the contemporary building (Fig. 5 and see Fig. 1).
The rooms exhibit several phases of construction. Along the eastern row of rooms, only part of Room a1 (Sq A1) was excavated. Beneath the modern concrete floor was a floor made of crushed kurkar that lay on the bedrock, indicating that the room was hewn. Although no pottery was found beneath the kurkar floor, which hampered our efforts to date the initial construction phases, we can state with certainty that the eastern row of rooms already existed during the Early Ottoman period, along with the open space and the western row of rooms. Although the western rooms were erected on top of fill that leveled the remains of the Stratum II fortifications, these remains were extensively utilized as foundations: the wall delimiting the row of rooms on the east was founded on W155; the eastern edge of early floors in these rooms, made of gray mortar on a bedding of small stones, rest on W155 as well; and Tower 200 served as the base for the building’s northern wall (W192), as well as for the southern wall of the neighboring Greek Orthodox monastery (St. Michael’s Church; see Fig. 1). In the second phase, the rooms were paved with rectangular flagstones (maximum length 0.5 m) on a bedding of gray mortar; in Rooms c2–c4 the flagstones were gray and in Room c5 they were white (Room c1 lies beyond the limits of the excavation). This phase included the opening of doorways between Rooms c1–c3. These doorways were blocked in the third phase, toward the end of the eighteenth century CE.
The two rows of rooms were separated by an open space (L203). No walls were found that delineated the open space on the north and south; it is thus unclear whether it served as a courtyard or a street that ran parallel to the sea. Well 183, which is ascribed to Stratum III, was incorporated into the northeastern part of the open space. It continued to be in use following some renovations: two courses were added to it, creating an elliptical opening, and the joints in between the ashlars were probably sealed at this time with brown mortar. Water channels led from the well southward, through the open space. Two phases of channels were discerned: all that survived of the first phase was a section of a channel (L132) built of pebbles and coated with gray mortar. The channel ascribed to the pater phase (L130) was incorporated into a pavement of river pebbles (L129). Channel 130 was built of small and medium-sized dressed kurkar (maximum length 0.4 m) and was coated with gray mortar. Five cannonballs were found in the structure, among them two Perrier cannonballs (see below) found inside Pavement 129.
Stratum I. The upper stratum dates to the Late Ottoman period, and it continued to be in use into the twentieth century CE. The Napoleonic conquest at the end of the eighteenth century and other wars in the early nineteenth century CE evidently resulted in the partial destruction of the building complex, the western part of which was exposed to attacks from the sea and was not supported by the slope of the tell. An indication of this can be seen in the cannonballs found in Stratum II. Stratum I comprises the rebuilding and several later changes that took place in the building. Whereas the southern part of the building remained unchanged, the northwestern rooms were rebuilt, but their number did not change. The new walls sat atop the walls of Stratum II, although those of Stratum II deviated considerably from those of Stratum I. This seems to have resulted from the need to align the new walls with the southern wall of the Greek Orthodox monastery; a narrow passageway that separated the building and the monastery was canceled and the area was included within the new rooms. The open space between the two rows of rooms was converted into an inner courtyard, with arches that connected the two wings of the building. A second floor was added to the structure. All these changes were completed prior to the sixties–seventies of the 19th century, as indicated by a drawing dating to these years (Fig. 6) that shows the building.
Over the years, additional modifications took place in the building. The inner courtyard was gradually transformed into a series of separate rooms as arches were blocked by construction typical of the Ottoman period, consisting of stones and brown mortar, and the water channels in the yard were taken out of use. At some point, the building’s original façade was destroyed, and a new façade was affixed in its place. A picture from the Matson collection (Fig. 7) shows the building without its façade. The precise date of the photograph is unknown; however, the Ottoman customs house, built in 1894 and demolished before 1934–1936, can be seen in the picture and thus dates the replacement of the façade to the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century CE. New floors, made of gray lime, concrete and paving stones, were laid in the rooms, probably in the twentieth century CE. Walls and ceilings were also changed, and the upper story was demolished. Well 183 continued to be in use until it was blocked, apparently in the 1950s or 1960s. An Israeli ten pruta coin was recovered from the fill inside the well. In later floors around the well, water channels – one with an iron stopper – could still be discerned.
Fragments of pottery vessels dating from the Iron Age through the Ottoman period were discovered in the excavation. They include zoomorphic vessels (Fig. 8), imported pottery and vessels bearing stamped impressions and engraved decorations. Numerous pieces of marble were found, particularly near the foundation of W155. A number of fragments of basalt and glass vessels were also collected, as well as coins.
Five cannonballs were discovered. Two are made of iron and were shot from a twelve-pound cannon: a whole “common shell” cannonball, and a fragment of a “solid round shot” that probably broke as a result of hitting a hard target. Another “solid round shot” cannonball belonged to a six-pound cannon. The two other balls are made of marble; they are 360 mm in diameter and weigh c. 73 kg each (Fig. 9); both are broken on one side – an indication that they were fired and struck hard targets, such as a wall or building. The marble balls, the only ones of their type, belonged to a rare weapon: the Perrier cannon or heavy mortar, which was deployed for high trajectory shelling of fortified cities. The Perrier was no longer manufactured in Europe in the eighteenth century, after it became apparent that its effect was not much better than that of the smaller, less expensive 12–13 inch mortars, and it remained in use mostly in fortresses. Despite the rarity of this type of cannon, there is historical evidence indicating that Napoleon used it in the Near East: one of his soldiers, named Sangle-Ferriere, wrote that four Perrier cannons were used to arm the boat that used by Napoleon's forces in the eastern Mediterranean (Crowdy 2003:30–31).
The excavation yielded several important discoveries. For the first time, the topographic structure of Tel Yafo was ascertained in the area of the harbor. It became apparent that the kurkar ridge that descends toward the sea in the northern part of the excavation creates a natural breakwater that protected the northern entrance to the harbor. Prior this
excavation, our knowledge about the harbor before to the Ottoman period was very meager, and only Ottoman fortifications were found in the harbor, while earlier fortifications were known in the southern part of the tell and in the northern part of the harbor. Part of the eastern outline of the curved inner anchorage was identified, and we now know that it was in use from at least the classical periods until the beginning of the Ottoman period. Also, fortifications that date prior to the Ottoman period were found, including the tower that safeguarded the harbor entrance. In addition, it was proven that the Crusader fortifications were not demolished to ground level, although historical sources tell of the total destruction of the city following the Mamluk conquest. In addition to clarifying the stratigraphy of the Ottoman-period building complex, the finds in the structure advance our understanding of the settlement in the harbor in the Modern Era. The inscription that dates the foundation of the structure to 1651 indicates that the Casa Nova was not the first building erected with the renewed settlement in Yafo. Last, the excavation yielded for the first time in Israel Perrier cannonballs – an archeological indication for the use of this rare weapon in Yafo, probably by Napoleon. This information may aid us in the future to better understand the Napoleonic campaign in conquering Yafo.