During November 2002, a salvage excavation was conducted in Ashqelon, Barne‘a, along the route of Road 6 (Permit No. A-3768*; map ref. NIG 16000/62182; OIG 11000/12182). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by O. Sion, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography), I. Berin (drafting), A. Pikovski (pottery drawing) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
The excavation was conducted on the southeastern side of the Ashqelon-Afridar and Barne‘a site, in the middle of the route of the planned road (Fig. 1). A previous extensive excavation at the site had been conducted in 2003 (Permit No. A-3850). The current excavation revealed a wall (Area A), remains of a large building and the edge of a tomb, which was not excavated (Area B).
Area A. Six squares were opened. The foundation of a wall (W1; length 10.5 m, preserved height 5–13 cm; Fig. 2) was exposed. It was oriented east–west and its construction indicates it had almost certainly two phases. The eastern part was built of two rows of rectangular mud bricks and a core of square mud bricks (0.4 × 0.4 m); its western part consisted of two rows of different-sized mud bricks (0.20 × 0.35–0.35 × 0.65 m). The pottery finds near the foundation of the wall (Loci 51, 54, 62) included bowls (Fig. 3:1–5), jugs (Fig. 3:7, 8) and a fragment of a Megarian bowl (Fig. 3:9), which dated the remains to the second century BCE.
Area B is located c. 100 m south of Area A; kurkar bedrock was exposed at a depth of 0.2 m below surface. The edge of a rock-hewn pit grave, which was not excavated, was revealed next to the eastern side of the eastern square (Fig. 4).
The pottery finds along the fringes of the grave (L56) were also from the second century BCE and included bowls (Fig. 5:1–4, 6), a fish plate (Fig. 5:5), cooking pots (Fig. 5:7, 8), jars (Fig. 5:9–12) and an amphoriskos (Fig. 5:13). Two coins from the time of Antiochus IV (below) were also dated to this period. The destruction and the later quarrying explain the presence of coins that dated to the fourth and sixth centuries CE.
Donald T. Ariel
Four bronze coins were discovered in the excavation, none in relevant contexts. Two are Byzantine in date: Theodosius I, 383–395 CE (IAA 97930) and a half follis of Maurice from Constantinople, 597/98 CE (IAA 97931). The other two coins are dated to the second century BCE, possibly to the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BCE). One is the most commonly found coin of that king in the region, struck in the ‘Akko-Ptolemais mint (IAA 97929). The other is a very rare Ascalonian municipal issue, referring to “the people of Ascalon” (Figs. 6, 7). One known coin of this type was struck within the reign of Antiochus IV (Yashin C. 2007. From Ascalon to Raphia: City-Coins of the Southern Palestinian Coast. N.P.:19) and others are dated somewhat later (BMC Pal.:G.F. Hill, Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Palestine [Galilee, Samaria and Judea]. London 1914:liv–lv). Unfortunately, the date on this coin is not preserved.