During August 2009, an excavation was conducted at Ramat Ha-Hayyal in Tel Aviv (Khirbat el-Hadra; Permit No. A-5724; map ref. 184539–91/668377–432; Fig. 1), after ancient remains were uncovered in probe trenches. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Bouchenino, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), V. Eshed (physical anthropology), E. Jakoel (preliminary inspections), M. Kipnis (drafting of plans), M. Avissar (ceramic consultation) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
Ancient remains that dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age, and the Hellenistic, Late Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were uncovered in Ramat Ha-H
ayyal. The site is one of the largest from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods ever discovered in the Yarkon River basin. The remains that had been exposed in salvage excavations conducted at the site include refuse pits for potsherds from the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods (HA-ESI 117
); building remains from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (ESI
109:97*; S. Yankelewich
, A Salvage Excavation at Ramat Ha-H
ayyal, Tel Aviv, Contract Archaeology Reports [University of Haifa, Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies]; HA-ESI 116
); winepresses from the Roman and Byzantine periods (HA-ESI 117
); a mausoleum from the Late Roman period that was converted into a workshop for glass production in the Early Islamic period (Permit No. A-225); and burial caves from the Intermediate Bronze Age (HA-ESI
109:54*) and the Byzantine period (J. Kaplan. 1950. An Ancient Jewish Burial Cave near Tel Aviv. BIES
Two squares were excavated (1, 2; Fig. 2). A wall of an industrial installation, a tomb and a cave hewn in kurkar bedrock were exposed.
A single course of a wall (W25; length 5.3 m, width 0.70–0.75 m, height c. 0.45 m; Fig. 2), built of roughly hewn kurkar blocks, founded on bedrock and coated with white plaster, was discovered. The wall, aligned northwest-southeast, was probably part of an industrial installation, possibly a winepress. This supposition is based on the presence of plaster on the interior face of the wall and on several white tesserae (4×4 cm), characteristic of industrial installations, which were found near the wall. A residential dwelling was built above the wall after 1948, which caused severe damage to the antiquities. A pit grave (T30; 0.8×2.0 m; Figs. 2, 3), oriented northwest-southeast, was exposed close to the eastern corner of the square. The deceased was placed in a shallow depression in the kurkar bedrock and was covered with sandy hamra. Medium-sized kurkar stones were placed on top of the grave for the purpose of marking its location (Fig. 3). The grave contained small bone fragments of a single individual and several funerary offerings, including a body fragment of a ribbed jar (Byzantine or Early Islamic) and a small piece of a Fine Byzantine Ware bowl. The poor preservation of the bones made it impossible to define the gender or age of the deceased.
A cave (L502) that was coarsely hewn in the kurkar bedrock (2.0×2.5 m; Fig. 2) was exposed c. 2.4 m below surface. The cave was probably intended for a tomb, but its quarrying was incomplete, possibly due to the friableness of bedrock. A burnished krater with a folded rim, dating to Iron Age IIA (tenth–ninth centuries BCE; Fig. 4:1) and characteristic of the coastal plain, as well as a glazed bowl from the Crusader period (thirteenth century CE; Fig. 4:5), were recovered from the soil accumulation inside the cave. A bowl from the Early Islamic period (Fig. 4:2), a jar with an everted rim and a long neck dating to the same period (Fig. 4:3), and a glazed bowl adorned with a sgraffito decoration dating to the Crusader period (thirteenth century CE; Fig. 4:4) were found in an outcrop of kurkar bedrock (L501).
Three architectural elements, a very small wall section (W25) that was probably part of an industrial installation, a pit grave (T30) and a rock-hewn cave (L502), were exposed in the excavation.
It is not possible to date the site by the meager ceramic finds that were scattered around; however, based on the proximity and similarity of the finds—an industrial installation, possibly a winepress, and a rock-cutting in the kurkar that was meant for a tomb—to the adjacent excavation finds from the Byzantine period, it was probably connected to the Samaritan settlement at the site during the Byzantine period, which was exposed in J. Kaplan’s excavations. The origin of the late finds is probably associated with the later quarrying for building stones, industrial installations and tombs at the site.