Stratum II (Hellenistic period)
A layer of light brown sandy soil containing fragments of pottery vessels from the Hellenistic period was exposed in the northeastern part of the excavation area (L161, L175, L176; Figs. 2–4). The layer of soil accumulated on the kurkar bedrock, which sloped gently toward to the southeast. The pottery assemblage dates to the third–second centuries BCE and includes mainly locally produced vessels and a few imported vessels. Many fishplates (Fig. 5:1–4) were discovered, among them one that is an import judging by its fabric (4); several fragments of cooking vessels, including a casserole (Fig. 5:5); imported amphorae (Fig. 5:6, 7), probably from Chios and Rhodes; jars (Fig. 5:8, 9); a jug (Fig. 5:10); fusiform bottles (Fig. 5:11–13); and a lamp (Fig. 5:14).
Stratum I (Late Ottoman period and the British Mandate)
Phase IB. A refuse pit (L166; diam. 1.8 m; Figs. 2, 3, 6) belonged to the early phase. Ash, charcoal and pottery sherds were found in the pit, among them a porcelain vessel (see Appendix I), fragments of glass vessels (see Appendix II) and animal bones (Agha, below).
Phase IA. The southern wing of a building (c. 5 × 22 m; Figs. 3, 7) was constructed in a general east–west direction. The wing included an opening and an impressive vestibule that led to steps (Figs. 8–11) and four rooms (1–4; c. 4 × 5 m). Part of a room (5) that probably belonged to a northern wing of the building was exposed north of Room 4. The walls of the structure were built of kurkar, bonded with mortar containing earth, crushed seashells and white clay. The building’s foundations were dug into the kurkar bedrock and were built of particularly strong debesh. The outer walls (W120, W126, W127) were wider than the inner walls (W113, W124, W136, W137). The outer surfaces of the walls were treated with white plaster that had incised interstices (width 0.5 cm) rendering them the appearance of ashlar stones. The inner face of the walls were coated with pale blue-greenish plaster. Another layer of plaster was noted on some of the walls, indicating the house was maintained over the years.
A hard gray plaster floor (concrete? L182) was exposed in the front of the building. Two elongated limestone steps led to the opening. On either side of these steps was a cast-iron scraper for cleaning shoes before entering the building. The vestibule was paved with colored concrete floor tiles decorated with geometric and floral patterns (L179, L180); the predominant colors were green, black and red. The floor tiles were laid on a thick bedding of mortar that included kurkar gravel and crushed seashells. Fragments of floor tiles bearing a variety of patterns were discovered in the accumulations above the building’s foundations (Fig. 12:1–4). A staircase was fixed in the northwestern part of the vestibule, and two of its steps were preserved in situ. Other parts of the staircase were discovered in the collapse in the northwestern part of the vestibule. The remains of the staircase indicate that the structure was more than one story high. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Late Ottoman period were discovered in the accumulations above and alongside the walls of the building (see Appendix I). Pit 166 of Phase IB was found under the vestibule floor. On the basis of the stratigraphy at the site, the refuse pit predated the structure, and might have been used by the builders. Meager remains of a plaster floor that was incorporated in the foundation of the southern wall of Room 3 (W120) were discovered; these might have been part of a floor of a storage pit. A wall (W138) built in the center of Room 4 divided the room in two. A wooden track was also discovered in Room 4. It was aligned in an east–west direction, suggesting there might have been a sliding door there.
Three coins were discovered in the excavation, of which only one was identified: an Abbasid fals (ninth century CE; IAA 143890) that was found in an area that was disturbed as a result of modern construction. Metal objects were also found in Stratum II, in the accumulation above the building and on the surface, among them a set of pliers (Fig. 13:1), a ‘tensioner’ for cables (Fig. 13:2), an upper part of a railing (Fig. 13:3), a round, closed item, maybe part of a lamp (Fig. 13:4) and a 0.303 caliber bullet of a British Lee-Enfield rifle (Fig. 13:5), a type that was used in both World Wars and in the War of Independence.
The animal bones that were found in the Ottoman-period refuse pit (L166) were examined. The bones were collected manually, in accordance with the protocol practiced by the IAA and described in previous publications (Agha 2014
). Due to their fine state of preservation, they were washed with tap water only. The assemblage comprised 94 bones, 85 of which (c. 90%) were identified according to their species or genus classification. The bones were very well-preserved, indicating that they were exposed on the ground for only a short time before being buried. Gnawing marks caused by rodents were identified on 20 of the bones (c. 23%). The bones in the assemblage belong mainly to livestock: sheep/goat, chicken, pigeon and a medium-sized fowl (on the order of a duck). The skull of a mole was also discovered—further evidence of the rodent activity after the deposition of the assemblage.
Sheep/goat are the most frequent species in the assemblage (NISP=62; c. 73%). The remains of sheep/goat include bones from the axial skeleton, forelimbs and hindlimbs and feet. The remains represent two sheep and a goat, that is to say, a minimum of three individuals more than one year old. The remains of the sheep/goat represent mainly consumption waste, such as limb bones that are rich in meat, but also butchering waste such as feet, although the cranial bones are missing. Many bones (NISP=35; c. 56% of the sheep/goat bones) bear cut-marks that were caused in all stages of the animal’s treatment. On five of the vertebrae that were discovered, the body of the vertebra was divided in two, an indication of hanging the animal and butchering it into two parts along the spine by means of an axe; after this initial dismemberment, the parts of the animal were cut into smaller chunks. Cut-marks were discerned on twelve of the ribs, probably a matter of pot-sizing (Seetah 2006
:135). In addition, there were marks indicating the breaking of limb joints, marks from butchering and removing meat by means of a knife.
The chicken is the second most frequent species in the assemblage (NISP = 20; 24%). The remains of the chicken also include consumption waste together with slaughtering waste. The consumption waste consists mainly of wings and a very small part of the breast (one coracoid bone). The slaughtering waste included seven leg bones, five of which were whole, and according to their shape they belonged to females; one of them bore cut-marks. Other poultry included in the assemblage are a pigeon, represented by one leg bone, and a medium-sized fowl about the size of a duck, represented by a humerus bearing cut-marks.
Unlike other contemporary assemblages in Yafo, this one is completely devoid of cattle remains. The reason for this may be the size of the assemblage or that the assemblage is from a single refuse pit in a residential building. The assemblage might represent remains of several meals that did not include cattle but rather a preference for sheep/goat and chicken.
Stratum II yielded pottery sherds from the Hellenistic period, and the remains of a residential building from the Late Ottoman period and the British Mandate were revealed in Stratum I. Tombs from the Hellenistic period, which were part of a large necropolis discovered on Andromeda Hill, were found north of the site, on Yehuda Ha-Yammit Street. So far, no evidence has been found of the continuation of the cemetery south of Yehuda Ha-Yammit Street and the finds from Stratum II might somehow be related to the city’s cemetery from the Hellenistic period. The ceramic finds from the Hellenistic period in Stratum II are characterized by local vessels, and they may be indicative of a nearby contemporary residential building or farmhouse that has not yet been exposed. It seems that the building from Stratum I was part of the Ajami neighborhood that was constructed south of the city wall after the latter was dismantled in the 1870s (Avitsur 1972
:14–15; Kark 2003
:27). Judging by the building’s architectural style, it probably belonged to a wealthy family. Various documents were found in the Building Files of Tel Aviv-Yafo archive showing repairs and changes that were made to the building since 1936 (Tel Aviv–Yafo Archive of Building Files
; Block 7022
, Lot 71, File No. 30420020). According to the testimony of long-time residents in the neighborhood, the building originally belonged to the Beiruti family and later became the property of Francis Jalad. The building was subsequently used as a school until it was demolished in the mid-1970s.