Area A (Fig. 2) is located in an area of sand dunes overlying hard, dark clayey soil. The ancient remains, which were poorly preserved, were discovered in the clay layer, which was covered with sand dunes. The remains consisted of layers of kurkar stones, probably the collapsed walls of destroyed buildings (L100, L101, L105, L108–L111, L113, L120, L125, L127, L130), and a pit dug in the sand (L121). Pottery and stone vessels dating from the Early Roman period were recovered, including bowls (Fig. 3:1, 2), a Terra Sigillata bowl (Fig. 3:3), cooking pots (Fig. 3:4–8), a Herodian lamp (Fig. 3:9), jars (Fig. 4:1–5), a Terra Sigillata jug (Fig. 4:6) and limestone cups (‘measuring cups’; Fig. 4:7, 8). Nails (Fig. 5), fragments of grinding tools (not drawn) and coins (Bijovsky, below) were also found.
It was evident from the remains that the site had been completely destroyed. However, the domestic finds attest to the presence of a nearby Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple.
Area B, c. 300 m east of Area A, yielded a layer containing several small kurkar stones and a few worn potsherds of the same date as those retrieved from Area A.
Area C (Fig. 6) was opened c. 400 m northeast of Area B, where the land had been farmed, and the clayey soil, like in Areas A and B, was dark and hard but was not covered by the dune. A poorly preserved wall foundation (W313; Figs. 6, 7) built of small kurkar stones was unearthed. Traces of collapsed ashlar stones (L307, L310; average stone size 0.2 × 0.4 m; Fig. 8) and pieces of plaster were also recorded. Several Byzantine jar fragments were found (not drawn).
Gabriela Bijovsky
Six bronze coins were retrieved, all of which were identified. The earliest coin is a prutah of Agrippa I from Jerusalem, minted in 41/42 CE (IAA 162920). Another coin is from the rule of Festus, procurator of Judea under the emperor Nero (IAA 162918). Three of the coins are Roman provincial coins: one minted under Domitian in Caesarea in 83 CE (IAA 162915); one of Trajan, from the city of Tiberias, minted in 99/100 CE (IAA 162919); and one of Hadrian, from the city of Bostra in Transjordan (IAA 162916). The latest coin is an Ayyubid fals from the thirteenth century CE (IAA 162917).
This was the first excavation to be conducted at the site of Dhahrat el-Kharab. The importance of the excavation lies in the small finds from Area A, which attest to a Jewish presence in the Early Roman period. There is also evidence of some type of industrial activity in Area C during the Byzantine period. The Jewish presence in the area of Yavne in the Early Roman period continued into the Byzantine era (Fischer and Taxel 2008:29). However, the growth of the Christian and Samaritan populations in Yavne at the time may have pushed the Jews out into surrounding settlements, such as Yavne Yam (Fischer and Taxel 2007:230–231).The meager finds and the problematic state of their preservation make it difficult to interpret the remains, but there may well have been a Jewish presence at sites along the road between Yavne and the southern coastal plain during these periods.