During January 2008, a trial excavation was conducted at Ge’alya (Kh. el-‘Ajjuri and Kh. ed-Duheisha; Permit No. A-5354; map ref. 178536–69/643652–85), after ancient remains were damaged while widening Highway 410 (Kefar Gevirol–Yavne junction). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Aronson Company, was directed by J. Marcus, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), L. Yihye and H. Ben-Ari (GPS), T. Sagiv (field photography), P. Gendelman (pottery reading) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
The center of the site is located on a low hill where orchards are planted today, east of Highway 410, while the cemeteries are to the west of the road. Previous excavations at the site revealed cemeteries that dated to Middle Bronze II, the Roman–Byzantine periods, the Middle Ages and from the end of the Mamluk or the beginning of the Ottoman periods. In addition, a habitation level that dated to the Roman–Byzantine periods and residential and agricultural zones from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods were discovered (ESI 4:119; 16:89–90; HA-ESI 121). The survey of the Map of Yavne , which was conducted in 2002 (HA-ESI 118), established that the center of the ancient settlement from Middle Bronze II until the Umayyad period was situated on the hill and during the Crusader period the center of the settlement shifted north to an alluvial plain and remained there until the Ottoman period.
One square was opened west of Highway 410 and remains of a wall and a floor were exposed (Fig. 1). Olive trees are planted north of the square and a citrus orchard is located to its south; the tree roots damaged the ancient remains.
A wall (W10; length c. 1.8 m, width c. 0.3 m; Fig. 2) built of dressed kurkar stones and generally oriented east–west was uncovered in the middle of the square; it was preserved a single course high. Three sections of a stone floor that shared the same elevation (Loci 107, 112, 113; Fig. 3) were discovered north and east of the wall; Floor 112 probably abutted W10 originally, although the connection was not entirely clear due to poor preservation.
The floor along the square’s eastern balk was cut by a channel that had been dug during previous works at the site. A few potsherds, some of which dated to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods and others that were non-diagnostic, animal bones, a single metal artifact and two coins from the Mamluk period (IAA Nos. 115266, 115267) were discovered on the floor. Stone collapse (L106; see Fig. 2) was exposed southwest of W10. The excavation in the southern part of the square reached a stratum of sterile sand.
The exposed remains probably belong to a building from the Mamluk period, based on the coins that were discovered on the floor. It is assumed that the building was associated with the residential region from this period that had previously been discovered nearby.