In April–May 2002, an excavation was conducted at Tel Afeq-Antipatris (Permit No. B-248/2002; map ref. 19385–400/66810–20). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Afeq Research Project at the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University and funded by the National Parks and Nature Authority, was directed by Y. Tepper (photography), with the assistance of G. Avivi (administration), G. Kobo and D. Porotsky (surveying), Y. Dekel (plans), I. Katlav (mollusks), M. Sade (archaeozoology), A. Yadin, Y. Gadot, E. Sadot, A. Horowitz and T. Tsuk (scientific consultation).
Extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at Tel Afeq-Antipatris in the past, uncovering finds and remains that date from the Chalcolithic to the Early Islamic and the Ottoman periods (Itach 2017
, and see bibliography there).
A longitudinal section of five half-squares was excavated on the northeast slope of the tell. The section followed the contours of modern infrastructures to the north and the ran along an east–west road that climbs up the tell. The remains of three strata were detected. Three architectural phases were identified in the earliest stratum: kilns in the earlier phase, which could not be dates but are probably from the Middle Bronze Age; MB IIA dwelling complexes in the in the interim phase; and finally, MB IIB burial remains. The second stratum produced remains of a Roman oven, and the third stratum contained remnants of a modern road bedding.
Middle Bronze Age. Remains of dwellings and installations were partially excavated. The earliest phase contained the tops of brick walls belonging to kilns, possibly pottery kilns; the lack of diagnostic finds and the curtailment of the excavation for technical reasons prevented their dating. The remains of the interim phase, built over these walls, comprised foundations of stone walls flanked by a collapse of stones and burnt bricks, as well as a courtyard floor with an oven and a hearth—probably part of an open courtyard beside a dwelling. The pottery retrieved from the floor and beneath it was dated to the MB IIA. The latest phase, which was destroyed and probably swept away, yielded a group of intact vessels: two bowls, a jar, two jugs and an oil lamp dating from the MB IIB. A few bones found between the vessels indicate that these vessels belonged to an infant burial.
Roman Period. An oven lined with small stones was documented on the west side of the section, above the remains of the previous stratum. It was dated to the Roman period on the basis of several potsherds.
Modern Era. The upper stratum, on the south side of the excavated section, contained a bedding of small stones covering a layer of sand, probably the remains of the shoulder of a modern road that led up the tell. The poor state of preservation and the lack of diagnostic finds prevented more accurate dating.
This part of the fringes of the site was probably first used for pottery manufacture, but during the MB IIA, with the expansion of the built-up area, dwellings were built over the kilns. The dwelling complex, dated to the MB IIB, was evidently part of a residential area within the city walls. Thus, the excavation provides an indication of the extent of settlement on the tell during these periods.