The site is located on the eastern slope of the coastal plain’s main kurkar
ridge, which runs parallel to the shoreline, c. 2 km east of the sea (Singer 2007
:25) and c. 400 m west of Nah
al Ayalon. A small portion of the site was first excavated in 1980 (Ritter-Kaplan 1982
; Fig. 1: A-391), exposing two bell-shaped pits hewn in the kurkar
bedrock, probably from the Chalcolithic period that continued to be used in the Early Bronze Age IA. According to Ritter-Kaplan, one of the pits was used as a shelter, and the other probably served as a granary. The pottery dated from the EB IA; sherds from the Chalcolithic period were found at the bottom of the pits. In 2008, two excavations were conducted at the site (Kanias 2011
; Fig. 1:A-5538, A-5539), yielding, for the first time, architectural remains from the EB IB, which apparently represent the latest phase of the proto-historic settlement at the site. In addition, eight shafts hewn in kurkar
bedrock, pottery sherds from EB IA–B, animal bones and flint artifacts were discovered. Other Early Bronze Age artifacts were uncovered in excavations in the area (Gophna 2009
:43–51), on Givʽat Bet Ha-Mitbah
ayim (EB IA–B), at the Exhibition Grounds (EB IA–B) and on Ha-Bashan Street (EB IB, EB II). EB IB burial sites were revealed in Givʽatayim, on Salama Street in Tel Aviv (Gophna 2009
:50) and at the Qirya in Tel Aviv (Braun and van den Brink 2005; Barkan 2008).
The excavation began by using mechanical equipment to remove accumulated soil mixed with modern debris (thickness 1–3 m) until the kurkar bedrock was exposed and prepared for an archaeological excavation. Five and a half dunams were excavated, unearthing two strata (II, I). Finds dating mainly from the EB IA and several pottery sherds from the Chalcolithic period and EB IB were discovered in Stratum II. Stratum I was dated to the Late Ottoman period.
Stratum II yielded 30 rock-hewn pits, which were classified into four types: cylindrical pits (diam. 1.3–3.0 m, depth 0.25–2.33 m) with straight walls; bell-shaped pits (diam. 0.77–2.70 m, depth 0.77–2.50 m) with walls curving upward; small niches (diam. 0.35–1.00 n, depth 0.15–0.20 m); and pits (diam. 2.10–2.47 m, depth 0.45–0.61 m; Fig. 3) whose quarrying was incomplete, as evident by their heavily pitted floors. The artifacts in all the pits were identical, including mainly finds from the EB IA period: pottery sherds, fragments of stone vessels, flint tools, shells and animal bones. Also found were a few pottery sherds and fragments of stone vessels from the Chalcolithic period, and several sherds from the EB IB.
In one of the pits (F1; Fig. 4) homogenous brown soil was mixed with pottery sherds—mainly from the EB IA (Fig. 5), but several were from the EB IB—animal bones, shells and several stone vessels. No stratigraphy was discerned in the accumulation. A copper dagger blade was discovered at a depth of 2.5 m below the surface, close to the bottom of the pit (at 21.15 m asl; a sample of charred material collected at a similar depth was sent to the Weizmann Institute for 14C analysis). The dagger is almost complete (length 18 cm, width 3 cm, thickness 0.05 cm; Fig. 6), and has two adjacent rivets that secured the blade to a handle, which did not survive. The dagger was sent for environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) for a chemical analysis of the metal (Wolfson Applied Materials Research Center at the Tel Aviv University).
In addition, occupation layers were discovered in three places; these were characterized by brown soil mixed with EB IB pottery sherds. One of the layers contained fragments of a basin used in the preparation of beer (Fig. 7); it probably originated in Egypt and is similar to those found at ʽEn Ha-Besor (Hayes 1953
:96–97, Fig. 54; Vandier 1964
:281, 293, Fig. 128; Gophna and Gazit 1985
:9–16, Fig. 3:2).
Stratum I yielded an irrigation complex dating from the Late Ottoman period (1880–early twentieth century CE), which provided water to an orchard in the compound owned by Hassan Arfa. The complex consisted of an impressive saqiye well, remains of service rooms and a built storage pool.
The excavation unearthed the continuation of the EB IA–IB settlement, part of which was excavated in the past. The finds indicate that the settlement probably had its beginnings in the Chalcolithic period and ended in the EB IB. The pottery points to when the pits were filled, not to when they were dug. It seems that the pits were initially used as silos, and were turned into refuse pits later, when the site was abandoned. The latest excavations show that the settlement is much larger than was previously known. A total of forty pits hewn in the kurkar were exposed in all of the excavations conducted at the site. Their function is unclear because of their density and depth; it is assumed that at least several of them were surrounded by buildings, but these did not survive. The site was reinhabited in the Late Ottoman period, when a complex comprising a saqiye well-house, storerooms and a built storage pool was constructed.
The wealth of artifacts and the multitude of pottery vessels, flint implements, stone vessels, zoological finds and the dagger blade attest to a dynamic and important settlement with extensive commercial relations. A study of the finds and future excavations will no doubt help in clarifying the conclusions and completing the picture of the settlement in Tel Aviv as well as along the coastal plain in general during these periods.