Three areas totaling c. 1 dunam were opened (Figs. 2, 3, 6; Area A—c. 625 sq m, Area B —c. 225 sq m, Area C—c. 16 sq m), and architectural remains and finds, mainly from five periods, were exposed: the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and British Mandate periods. Other antiquities discovered include fragments of a jar from the Iron Age or the early Persian period (L136; Fig. 4:1), a coin (see Bijovsky, below; Table 1:7), several pottery sherds (not drawn) from the Ayyubid period, and rifle cartridges (see A. Peretz, below) and coins from the modern era.
 
Hellenistic Period (Stratum 5). Pottery vessels exposed in Areas A and B were the only artifacts from this period that were uncovered. In the eastern part of Area A (Fig. 3), several kurkar surfaces (L129, L136) were exposed in which there were depressions containing intact pottery, including vessels placed upside down and vessels lying on their side (Fig. 5). These were apparently funerary offerings. A bag-shaped jar found in Area B (Fig. 6) contained the bones of a fetus (L323; Fig. 7).
The pottery vessels included serving wares and various types of storage vessels: plain bowls (Fig. 4:2, 3), fish plates (Fig. 4:4), amphoras (Fig. 4:5, 6), jars (Figs. 4:7; 7; 8:1–3), jugs (Fig. 8:4, 5) and an intact unguentarium (Fig. 8:6). Two of the amphoras are imported: one (Fig. 4:5) from the island of Kos and the other (Fig. 4:6) from the city of Cosa in Italy. The amphoras date to the first century BCE.
 
Roman Period: First Century–First Half of Fourth Century CE (Stratum 4). Remains ascribed to this period were discovered only in Area A: a built funerary structure (T1; to be published separately; Figs. 3, 9) and a tomb (T2; Fig. 3). Two cells (L710, L711) aligned north–south survived in the funerary structure. Articulated human bones were found nearby, possibly an indication of two additional cells (L709, L714) that were not preserved. Two or even three levels of deceased were identified in Cells 710 and 711, placed on top of each other. Thirty-one deceased were found; twenty-six were adults (more than 15 years of age), two were children (5–15 years of age) and three were fetuses. The sex of seven of the skeletons was identified—five males and two females.
Fragments of pottery vessels discovered in the burial cells included a cooking pot (Fig. 10:2) and a Beit Nattif-type figurine (Fig. 11). Additionally, the tomb yielded glass bottles (see Winter below); gold jewelry (Fig. 12); and metal objects (Fig. 13), including a bronze handle decorated on one end with the head of a satyr, possibly Dionysus, and on the other end with a panther—a symbol associated with Dionysus (Fig. 13:1). In addition, a Roman coin was found, dating to the second half of the third century CE (see Bijovsky, below; Table 1:1).
 
Another tomb (T2) in the eastern part of the area should probably also be attributed to the Roman period. A jar (L170; Fig. 14) buried near the tomb contained the bones of an adult individual. A fragment of an Eastern Terra Sigillata bowl dating to the first century CE (Fig. 10:1) was also found. A marble fragment bearing a Greek inscription, of which several letters survived, should probably also be dated to this period (Fig. 15:1); the script indicates that it predates the Byzantine period. Another marble fragment was found (Fig. 15:2). Neither were discovered in a clear architectural context.
  
Late Roman and Byzantine Periods: Fourth–Seventh Centuries CE (Stratum 3). Remains attributed to this period were found in Areas A and B. The funerary structure (T1) in Area A continued to be used for interments in the Late Roman and Byzantine periods (L708, L137, L174, L190; Figs. 3, 16). The burial cells (L710, L711) also contained a level dating to the Late Roman and Byzantine periods in which the deceased were placed on top of each in different directions. One of the burials (L708) consisted of four adults and three young individuals (a child, an infant and a fetus). This burial from the Late Roman–Byzantine period yielded two glass vessels (see Winter below) and a coin dating to the first half of the fourth century CE (see Bijovsky, below; Table 1:2). Most of the deceased were interred in Gaza jars (Fig. 10:11, 12). Other artifacts included imported LRC Form 10 bowls (Fig. 10:3) and ERS bowls (Fig. 10:4), as well as a coin from the sixth century CE (see Bijovsky, below; Table 1:5).
Accumulations of plaster lumps and small stones (L156, L158, L179, L189), a fragment of painted plaster (Fig. 15:3) and numerous pottery vessels from the Byzantine period were found in the eastern part of Area A that may be burial remains. Among the pottery vessels were fragments of Gaza jars (not drawn), red-slipped bowls (Fig. 10:5, 7), a body piece of an ARS or LRC bowl bearing a stamped cross (Fig. 10:6) and bag-shaped jars (10:8–10). In addition, fragments of glassware (see Winter below) and two coins from the fourth–fifth centuries CE were found (see Bijovsky, below; Table 1:3, 4).
In Area B (Fig. 6), remains of a vaulted tomb (T3; L380; Fig. 17), a cistern (L378), a refuse pit (L367) and a kurkar outcrop with depressions in it (L359, L360, L373) were exposed. The vaulted tomb was square and built inside a kurkar rock-cutting (length 3.7 m, width 3 m). It was apparently entered from the west, in a section that collapsed after some of the tomb’s stones were robbed. The lower part of the southern (W416) and northern (W414) walls were built of roughly hewn stones that survived to a height of five courses, and their upper part consisted of small stones bonded with gray cement, inside and out. The eastern (W417) and western (W418) walls were built of unworked kurkar stones bonded with cement. The space between the built walls and the kurkar bedrock was filled with gray mortar. Most of the tomb’s stones and the artifacts in it were plundered and very few bones remained.
The meager assemblage (L379, L380) from the tomb contained a few fragments of pottery vessels, a bronze ring and a fragment of an iron cross. Most of the pottery vessels likely originated from the debris that was discarded or penetrated the tomb after its ceiling was destroyed. Among the pottery vessels were LRC Ware bowls (Fig. 18:1, 2), a CRS Form 7 bowl decorated with a rouletted pattern (Fig. 18:5), a red-slipped bowl rim (Fig. 18:6), a locally produced bowl (Fig. 18:7), a krater (Fig. 18:8) and Gaza Ware jars (Fig. 18:12, 13).
 
A plastered cistern hewn in kurkar (L378; inner diam. 2.45 m, depth c. 2.4 m; Fig. 19) was exposed c. 20 m southeast of the vaulted tomb (T3). The sides of the cistern (W415) were built of small and medium-sized kurkar stones bonded with gray mortar. The inside of the cistern was treated with plaster that contained a small amount of pottery sherds. Its floor foundation, which was partially exposed, was built of small kurkar stones bonded with light gray mortar. Pieces of fired bricks and fragments of numerous pottery vessels from the Byzantine period were found in the accumulation inside the cistern (L374, L378); these vessels included a CRS bowl (Fig. 18:4) and amphoras (Fig. 18:9, 10) dating to the fourth–sixth centuries CE that apparently came from North Africa.
A refuse pit (L367) and a kurkar outcrop with depressions in it (L359, L360, L373) were also found in Area B. The depressions contained pottery vessels, some dating to the Late Roman–Byzantine period, but most were from the Late Byzantine period. A Byzanto-Arab coin (see Bijovsky, below; Table 1:6) was found on the surface.
 
Ottoman Period(?) (Stratum 2). Remains of a road that linked El-Majdal with El-Jura (R218; width c. 4 m; Figs. 2, 20, 21) were found in Area A. The road is not described by Guérin, but his description of the route he took when he traveled from El-Majdal (Migdal) to El-Jura, apparently where the road turns to the southwest (Guérin 1869:134), not far from the sabil today located next to Ashqelon Academic College, seems to provide information. The road was built of small and medium-sized stones (0.10–0.25 m), marble fragments and pottery sherds (L184). Its foundation (L186) consisted of sand mixed with fragments of pottery vessels, mainly from the Byzantine period, except for an abraded glazed sherd (not drawn) that may indicate the road was constructed no earlier than the Islamic period.
Remains of a building (1; W407, W408, W409, W413) whose construction had damaged antiquities from the earlier periods were exposed in Area B, northwest of Cistern 378 (Fig. 6). The building consisted of two or possibly three rooms. The walls were preserved to a height of c. 0.5 m and were constructed of small and medium-sized kurkar stones bonded with black clay mortar. Pottery sherds from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods were incorporated in the clay mortar in one of the walls (L408). The floors were not exposed because of damage sustained in the modern era that resulted in a heap of stones left there (L343).
 
British Mandate until the Early 1960s (Stratum 1). Remains of a road (Fig. 2, 20, 21) and a well (Fig. 3) were exposed in Area A, and remains of four buildings were found in Area B (Fig. 6).
Area A: During the British Mandate, probably in the 1930s, the old Ottoman road was renovated and a soling road was paved above it (L168; width c. 3.4 m; Figs. 20, 21: Section 1–1). The roadbed was made of different-sized chalk stones (0.05 × 0.35 m; 0.15 × 0.20 m) that were densely bonded and was delimited by medium-sized and large curbstones (0.2 × 0.3 m). Fragments of chalk stones were found next to the road, proof that the stones were dressed in situ. The road was covered with asphalt at some point, either during the British Mandate period or when modern Ashqelon was established.
During the period between the British conquest of Palestine (1917) and 1931 a well-house was constructed adjacent to the road, and a large orchard was planted. Their date is based on a comparison of maps showing the route from el-Majdal to el-Jura. On the map of the British survey from the second half of the nineteenth century (Conder and Kitchener 1878, Palestine Exploration Fund Map: Ashdod, Sheet XVI; IAA Scientific Archives) and on a German map from 1918 (SH. 77. C.5. 77. Dschūlis. 1:50,000, The Map Library, Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and a British Mandate map (Mejdael A.I. 1:40,000; The Map Library, Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), in which the locations of wells and buildings along the road were carefully marked, there are no indications of a building or well. On the other hand, on a British Mandate map from 1931 (Ashqelon, Sheet 10-11. 1:20,000; The Map Library, Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Fig. 22) the building is documented, as it is on a survey map of El-Jura village from 1946 (EL-JŪRA Serial No. T/51/8 [Ascalon I, SRF_11 (45/234]: Village Development Survey El-Jūra, 1:2500; IAA Scientific Archives). The well house, the road from el-Majdal to el-Jura and the orchard, still appear on a map of Ashqelon from the beginning of the 1960s (Sasson 2001).
The well-house consisted of a well, a pool and a building. The construction of the well (L165; Figs. 3, 20, 23) in the northwestern corner of the well-house apparently partially damaged burials from the Roman and Byzantine periods (T1). The well (diam. c. 4.2 m, min. depth 34 m) was built of roughly hewn kurkar stones of various sizes. Two iron ladders (Fig. 23) and an iron pipe used for pumping water were affixed to the side of the well, which was plastered with gray cement. Inside the upper northeastern part of the well was a channel that led to a pumping installation (L147) east of the well which, in a later phase, was blocked with stones. A partition (W230) and a channel (L195) delimited the installation from the west. An iron pipe was placed north of the channel; it is not known when it was incorporated in the water pump.
A pool (L145; 3 × 3 m; Fig. 24) that was intended to store the water pumped from the well that was conveyed to irrigation channels was exposed in the northeastern corner of the well-house. Its walls were built of various sized, unevenly hewn kurkar stones. Two iron pipes that were inserted into the walls (W201, W208) conveyed the water into the irrigation channels. An iron item that may be one of two irrigation pipes was found in the pool (Fig. 25:2).
In the second phase, a concrete floor was apparently laid between the well and the pool, above Channel 195. A pump was installed on the floor and was run with fuel that flowed to it from a tank (L144; Fig. 26), fixed to the south, possibly through a pipe that did not survive in the channel (L228). Concrete was also applied to the inner surfaces of the pool, to the walls of the well and in the building (below). Other concrete walls and brick walls, the latter possibly made of silicate, were added to the pool (W203, W216). Such bricks were first used in the 1930s (Sasson 2001). Lumps of lime (LP215, LP222; Figs. 3; 27) that were found east of the building are probably related to the construction of the well-house.
The building (c. 8.7 × 16.0 m; Fig. 3) southeast of the well and south of the pool was not uniformly constructed. The western (W205, W206, W213) and northern (W212) walls were built of different sized unworked kurkar stones whereas the eastern (W200) and southern (W202) walls were constructed of kurkar stone foundations on which concrete strips were laid, above which several courses of roughly hewn kurkar stones were placed. The roof of the building was probably covered with Marseilles roof tiles (Fig. 25:1). The finds were meager; the ceramics include part of a broken coffee cup (Fig. 8:8–11), black Gaza Ware jugs (Fig. 28:11) and a tobacco pipe (Fig. 28:14). Other finds included metal items related to the operation of the well and two German Mauser rifle cartridges (Fig. 25:3, 4) from the War of Independence that were used by both the IDF and the Arab armies (see Peretz, below), and modern coins.
 
In Area B, sections of four buildings (1–4) were uncovered. Some of them were erected in the Ottoman period, such as Building 1, which was modified during that period (Fig. 6). Above the southern section of W409 were built walls (W412, W419) that were probably intended to partition the southern room in the early building into two small rooms. Wall 412 was partly built of kurkar stones above W409, and above W412 was concrete, as was the case for W419, incorporated in it from the west. Building 2 (L312) was east of the Byzantine tomb (T3); its walls were constructed of small kurkar stones overlain with poured concrete, and iron was added to the concrete in the southern wall (W404). The walls of Building 3 (L313, L321) were exposed to the southeast and a northwestern corner of Building 4 (L341) was exposed slightly to the east. The walls of the buildings are constructed of small kurkar stones, with poured concrete above them, which was sometimes mixed with iron and even shells. A section of a room’s floor (L341) survived only in Building 4. It was built of small stones bonded in concrete that were covered with a thin layer of light red plaster.
Because of the destruction resulting from the construction of modern Ashqelon, very few artifacts dating to this period were discovered. Most of the finds consisted of black Gaza Ware, including bowls (Fig. 28:5), kraters (Fig. 28:6), jars similar to those found in Area A (Fig. 28:11) and jug spouts (Fig. 28:13).
 
Only two half-squares were opened in Area C, south of Area A. Refuse pits revealed there yielded pottery, lumps of cement, small stones and bones. The ceramic assemblage is composed of bowls, one of which is red-slipped (Fig. 18:3), kraters (not drawn), Gaza Ware jars (not drawn) and amphoras, one of them a LR1 Form amphora (Fig. 18:11) that dates from the early fifth to the mid-seventh century CE.
 
Glass
Tamar Winter
 
Glass artifacts were discovered in Areas A and B. Area A yielded 32 small glass fragments of which 21 are diagnostic pieces. The finds, which date mostly from the Late Roman and Byzantine periods, include a wineglass with a hollow ring base, and bottles or jugs with a rim that is folded either in or out (not drawn). Several fragments (L109, L120, L124, L127, L162; not drawn) date to the modern era.
The most important glass finds are 15 bottles, of which 14 are complete (Fig. 29), that were unearthed in the western cell of Tomb T1 (11 in L704 and the remainder in L709). These bottles bear characteristics typical of the first–second centuries CE (a detailed discussion will be published separately).
Glass vessels that were found above Tomb T1 (L706 and L708) indicate that burial in this area continued in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods, as also implied by a coin (L708; see Bijovsky, below; Table 1:2) that dates from 341–346 CE.
Two glass tubes, one colorless (Fig. 30:1) and the other yellowish green (Fig. 30:2) are probably parts of vessels that were common in the region in the third–fourth centuries CE. Tube vessels of this type, one complete and one broken, were discovered in a burial cave dating to the second half of the third century or the early fourth century CE in the Rafidiya neighborhood of Nablus (Hizmi 1997:125–128, Fig. 6:1, 2).
 
Area B yielded 11 small fragments, of which several are diagnostic pieces, including a handle and base (L301, L379; not drawn) dating to the fourth–fifth centuries CE, and a base and body fragment (L362, L364; not drawn) from the modern era.
 
Coins
Gabriela Bijovsky
 
Twenty-four abraded bronze coins were discovered in the excavation, sixteen of which could not be identified and one that is modern (L106, Basket 1020). The coins date from the second half of the third century CE to the Ayyubid period.
Coin 1 was discovered in the main cell of Tomb T1. The coin is worn but can be dated to the third quarter of the third century CE. Coin 2 is a VOTA type and its details are abraded; the coin dates to 341–346 CE and was discovered in Tomb T1 at a level corresponding to the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. Coin 3 is the type known as a ‘falling horseman’ (FEL TEMP REPARATIO). Coin 4 is an imitation that dates to the first half of the fifth century CE and is decorated with a cross pattern. Both Nos. 3 and 4 were discovered in a lime pit (L179). Coin 5 is a local imitation of a five nummi denomination, Christogram-type Chi Rho Byzantine coin. Judging by the number of coins of this type found near Greater Ashqelon, it can be assumed that these crude imitations were minted in Ashqelon and were intended for use as small change in the sixth century CE. Coin 6 was discovered in Area B and belongs to the Byzanto-Arab group—a transitional period in the second half of the seventh century CE. Coin 7, the latest coin, is a fals that was found on the surface. It dates to the Ayyubid period, to the reign of Al-Kamil I Mahmad Abu al-Ma’ali Abu-Ma‘ali Nasser al-Din. The inscription on that coin also mentions Caliph Al-Mustansir (1218–1242 CE).
 
Table 1. Identified bronze coins
No.
Basket
Locus
Identification (all dates are CE)
IAA No.
 
1
1361
710
Roman imperial, second half of third century, antoninianus 
146621
2
1349
708
341–346
146620
3
1237
179
Constantius II, Constantinople, 346–350
146618
4
1233
179
First half of fifth century, imitation cross pattern, nummus
146617
5
1119
150
Byzantine imitation, Ashqelon? C. 522–540, 5 nummi
146616
6
3201
354
Byzanto-Arab 1, 647–670
146619
7
3202
Surface
Ayyubid, Al-Kamil I Mahmad Abu al-Ma’ali Abu-Ma‘ali Nasser al-Din (with the caliph Al-Mustansir) c. 1218–1242, fals
146622
 
 
Ammunition
Assaf Peretz
 
A bullet and a cartridge (Fig. 25:3) of a Mauser rifle (caliper 7.92 × 57 mm) were found in the excavation. The bullet bears a headstamp marked with PS/19/47/V, and was manufactured in the Povázské Strojárne factory in Povázská Bystrica, Czechoslovakia (in what is today Slovakia) in May 1947 (Defense Intelligence Agency 1984). This is apparently ammunition that was supplied to the IDF as part of the Czech deal.
Another cartridge (Fig. 25:4) bears a headstamp marked with P163/S*/10/39. During the Third Reich, the manufacturers’ codes that were stamped on the edges (usually a few letters or a monogram) were replaced by new codes bearing the letter P and a number beside it. The cartridge that bears the code P163 was manufactured by the Metallwarenfabrik Treuenbritzen GmbH, Werk Selterhof (White and Munchall 1963) in October 1939. The abbreviation S* indicates that the cartridge was made of copper. The ammunition was probably German spoils that fell into the hands of the British army on the North African front during the Second World War. The spoils were concentrated in Egypt and smuggled or bought by both sides (Israeli and Arab). This ammunition could have been used by either Jews or Arabs in 1948.
 
The finds from the excavation supplement our knowledge regarding the history of the site and add to the corpus of information about Ashqelon el-Jura from the Iron Age until the modern era. The few Iron Age pottery sherds retrieved in the excavation and the bowl discovered by Kogan-Zehavi (2011) are indications of a human presence at the site already during this period. The use of the area for burial from the Hellenistic to the end of the Byzantine periods apparently dictated the northerly expansion of the city on the tell—Ashqelon Mayumas (today’s Afridar and Barnea‘ neighborhoods), especially at the end of the Roman period and during the Byzantine period. The burial in this area might be related to an ancient road that has not yet been exposed. Such a connection was suggested regarding the Roman-period cemeteries in Yafo (Jakoel 2013). An ancient road might be situated beneath the route of a later road (R218) but the limited scope of the excavation and the state of preservation impeded its discovery. Remains of other roads, including Ottoman–British (soling) roads, were identified in a visit to the ruins of el-Jura village, southwest of the excavation and near the tell. However, there is also evidence of a stone-built road that was traversed by the road that connects el-Majdal to el-Jura (Fig. 31). For the first time, a road dating to the British Mandate (which was paved alongside an Ottoman road) and a well-house were documented in this area, attesting to the urban and economic development between el-Majdal and el-Jura during British Mandatory rule.