In June–December 2017, an archaeological excavation was conducted in the town of Jaljuliya (Permit No. A-8000; map ref. 1965/6730), prior to construction work. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and financed by the Israel Land Authority, was directed by M. Shemer, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), R. Barkai (scientific guidance), D. Masarwa (preliminary inspections), L. Brailovsky-Rokser (preliminary inspections and area supervision), A. Agam, Y. Parush-Glickman, N. Solodenko (area supervision), A. Assaf, B. Efrati, T. Ginker, G. Zaluda, T. Yefet (area supervision assistance), M. Kahan and M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), Y. Marmelstein (aerial photography, 3D modeling and finds photography in the field), N. Porat (OSL), R. Sa‘ar and Y. Ebert (palaeomagnetic laboratory), N. Greenbaum (geology and geomorphology), Y. Asscher (microarchaeology), A. ‘Azab and A. Glick. The excavation workforce included students and volunteers from Tel Aviv University.
The town of Jaljuliya is located in the southern Sharon, on the eastern margins of the central coastal plain, about 3 km east of Kefar Sava and about 18 km east of the current coastline. Jaljuliya is mainly known for the remains of the khan from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods located in the southwestern part of the town (Mettens 2002a
; Bouchenino 2010
; Rutgaizer 2013
Preliminary inspections conducted prior to the excavation on the eastern edge of the village encountered a rich archaeological layer (1.5–5.0 m below the surface) containing numerous flint items, the most predominant being handaxes, which are characteristic of the industries of the Acheulian culture (Lower Palaeolithic period; until c. 250,000 BP). Typological and technological features indicated that the site should be associated with a late phase of the Acheulian culture.
The site, estimated to cover more than 10 dunams, is exceptionally large compared with known contemporary sites. Its northern and southern boundaries are not clearly defined. In the north, preliminary inspections revealed that the depth of the archaeological layer varied according to the ancient topography, exceeding 5 m (max. inspection depth).
About a kilometer to the north of the Acheulian site, part of a well and a ruined structure were identified as the remains of a village that was destroyed in the twentieth century.
The excavation was conducted in six areas (A–E, G; c. 90 sq m in 1 × 1 m squares; Fig. 1), yielding a rich assemblage of flint tools and knapping debris. The flint items bear various degrees of weathering, but the vast majority are well preserved and exhibit only scant abrasions. The finds include hundreds of handaxes of various sizes, exhibiting the use of a range of raw materials and knapping techniques.In five of the excavation areas (A–D, G), the archaeological layer was deposited above an ancient conglomerate—remains of the floodplain of a river that flowed from the east.
Area A provides the most comprehensive picture of the sequence of the geological layers at the site, the uneven topography of the early conglomerate layer, and the overlying archaeological layers (about 2 m max. depth below surface; 11 excavation squares; Figs. 2, 3). The conglomerate layer exhibited a steep topography that was characteristic of an ancient stream channel. Recent interventions, such as plowing and infrastructure laying, had damaged the archaeological layer in the eastern part of the excavation area, where it apparently lay closer to the surface. A correlation was also found between the flint types in the conglomerate layer and the predominant raw materials of the flint assemblages in the archaeological layer. The geological profile indicated that there was a hamra layer below the conglomerate, on which the archaeological layer was deposited, and beneath it was another layer of conglomerate—attesting to environmental changes in ancient periods.
Area B. A rich archaeological layer encountered c. 3 m below the surface (six excavation squares; 0.3–0.4 m thick) contained flint items in an excellent state of preservation. Numerous flint chips (2 cm max. size) were also recovered. Their presence and their well-preserved condition indicate that erosion and post-sedimental processes had scarcely affected the archaeological layer in this area.
Area C. A rich archaeological layer unearthed 3.6 m below the surface (13 excavation squares; 5–10 cm thick; Fig. 4) yielded flint items that were significantly more abraded than those in the other areas. Post-sedimental processes in this area may have affected the find-spots of the items, and they may have been conveyed here from their original deposition site. This area probably marks the southwestern boundary of human activity at the site.
Area D. A rich archaeological layer encountered 4.2 m below the surface (16 excavation squares; 0.2–0.3 m thick) contained numerous handaxes. Fragments of animal bones that were recovered here are probably the remains of medium-sized to large mammals (Fig. 5). This was the only area that yielded faunal remains.
Area G (30 excavation squares; Fig. 6). Five archaeological layers, uncovered at a depth of c. 3.2 m, were separated from each other by orange-colored, sandy sediment layers containing high manganese concentrations. Preliminary observations in the field indicated substantial differences between the layers, in the prevalence of handaxes and prepared cores, as it appears that the prepared cores were more common in the upper layers, whereas the handaxes were more common in the lower layers. It was further observed that the worked flint artifacts were better preserved in the upper layers than in the lower layers (Fig. 7).
Area E. A thin archaeological layer was encountered 2.3 m below the surface (10 excavation squares; 5–10 cm thick). Unlike in the other areas, the archaeological layer in this area was deposited on a thick layer of hamra, possibly an ancient dune located on the fringes of the floodplain. The archaeological layer was not uniformly present in this area, and it appeared in three main concentrations (each c. 0.5 m diam.; Fig. 8). These concentrations contained flint tools, including handaxes and chopping tools, as well as cores and knapping debris characteristic of the Acheulian culture, along with a few unworked pebbles that may have been used as hammerstones or raw material for knapping.
The excavation at Jaljuliya unearthed an extensive prehistoric site from the Lower Palaeolithic Acheulian culture. Based on the geological sections of the site, the ancient environment can be reconstructed as the floodplain of an ancient river bordered by the sandy hills (dunes) of the coastal plain. It may have been an ancient streambed of the adjacent Nahal Qana. As the stream descended from the highlands east of the coastal plain and encountered the sandy hills indigenous to this region, it flowed at a slower pace, and its erosive power was diminished. The resulting environment contained plentiful water, encouraging the development of lush vegetation and providing an attractive habitat for wildlife. The river’s reduced flow and erosive capacity led to the sedimentation of pebbles of assorted sizes, on which human activity took place. These pebbles, the majority of which are flint, were probably the main source for the raw material used to form tools when the site was inhabited by humans. The technological and typological characteristics of the flint assemblages, as well as preliminary results from palaeomagnetic and OSL analysis, indicate that the site belongs to a late stage in the Acheulian culture, estimated at ~500,000–300,000 BP.
The site of Jaljuliya is located close to two other sites identified with the late Lower Palaeolithic period. One of these is Qesem Cave, c. 5 km south of Jaljuliya, which is associated with the Acheulo-Yabrudian culture (400,000–200,000 BP; Barkai et al. 2003; Barkai, Gopher and Shimelmitz 2005; Barkai et al. 2009; Gopher et al. 2010).
The second site is Eyal 23, about 5 km north of Jaljuliya, where three layers of finds from the Lower Palaeolithic Acheulian culture were identified. The upper layer (Ronen and Winter 1997
: Unit 1) was defined as representing a late phase of the Acheulian culture, and its finds included finely finished handaxes and cores with a primary reduction surface, resembling finds from the excavation at Jaljuliya.
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