The tomb (preserved length 1.6 m, internal width 0.4 m, preserved height 0.7 m; Fig. 3) was built on a level area inside a pit, through an upper layer of clay and into a lower layer of sandy kurkar. The tomb, oriented east–west, was rectangular; based on the bones of the interred individual (below), its original length was at least 2.7 m.
The tomb’s west and south walls (W2 and W1, respectively) were built against the walls of the pit, on bases of debesh made of densely packed small–medium fieldstones that were bonded with clay (Fig. 4). The upper courses, which supported the vault, were constructed of dressed kurkar stones. Dressed building stones were also incorporated in the north end of W2, where it met the north wall (W3). Only the north face of W1 incorporated courses of dressed stones. The north face of W3 was destroyed. The stones in the southern face of W3 were arranged as headers and stretchers (Figs. 5, 6). The width of the wall was determined by the length of the headers. The cells that formed between the stretchers in this wall were filled with unworked kurkar stones. The gaps between the stones along with the large amount of soil indicate that stones were either added as fill or poured into the wall, unlike the meticulous arrangement of the fieldstones visible in the south wall. The walls were 0.4–0.5 m wide. The vault was barrel-shaped with no keystones (Figs. 7, 8), and was built of roughly hewn kurkar stones, rectangular in shape and trapezoidal in section. The walls of the tomb and its vault were built of dry construction without bonding material. The tomb did not have a built floor; the deceased was placed directly on a surface of tamped soil.
The anthropological finds comprised only postcranial bones, since the skull had been damaged as a result of modern activity. The anatomical articulation of the bones attests to a primary burial. The individual was placed in a supine position along a general east–west axis with the head in the east and the arms were folded over the chest (Fig. 9). Although the state of preservation was poor, it was possible to determine that the interred was a male individual aged 20 or older (the study methods appear in the archive report).
The bones were left in the tomb, although a femur fragment was taken for radiocarbon dating. The dating, conducted by E. Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute, indicates that the individual died during the Hellenistic period, probably in the first half of the third century BCE.
No grave goods were found. The lower part of the tomb was filled with clayey soil. The soil washed into the grave yielded potsherds dated to the Iron Age III. Similar finds were recovered from the fill around the tomb.
The seventh-century BCE pottery consists of thin-walled rounded bowls with a simple rim (Fig. 10:1, 2); bowls with thickened, everted rims, some burnished and red-slipped (Fig. 10:3–5); bowls with an everted, out-turned rim and a globular body (Fig. 10:6, 7); kraters and holemouth jars with an outward-thickened rim (Fig. 10:8–10); neck-less jars (Fig. 10:11, 12); jars or amphorae with a thickened, drawn-out rim (Fig. 10:13, 14); and part of a kernos (Fig. 10:15). This multi-cultural assemblage resembles the seventh century BCE assemblage at Tel Ashqelon (Stager, Master and Schloen 2011:71–96): it falls within the Philistine tradition of the southern coastal plain but is accompanied by Phoenician and Greek ware. The kraters (Fig. 10:6, 7) are similar to Phoenician bowls, whereas the jars (Fig. 10:13, 14) resemble the Greek amphorae recovered from Tel Ashqelon.
The skeletal remains date the tomb to the Hellenistic period, when several funerary traditions were practiced, including burial structures built above or below ground. Burial structures appear relatively infrequently and exhibit no uniform plan or method of construction. The walls of a burial structure excavated in Yafo (Tal 2006:230) were constructed using headers and stretchers like the Giv‘ati Pumping Station tomb. Two adjacent burial chambers with a barrel vault similar to that found in the current excavation were unearthed at Miqve Israel, Holon (Tal 2006:231). In the burial structures, the deceased was usually placed in a wooden or stone coffin and accompanied by a few grave goods (Tal 2006:217–269). The Giv‘ati pumping station yielded no evidence of a coffin and no grave goods were found. Nevertheless, the position of the interred is consistent with the burial practices of the Hellenistic period: supine position in an east–west axis, with his head in the east.
During the Hellenistic period, most burials lay near settlements (Tal 2006:249). The settlement to which the Giv‘ati pumping station tomb belongs is yet to be located. The nearest Hellenistic sites are at Masu’ot Yitzhak (4 km to the south; Fuks 2001), at Tel Ashdod, in Ashdod’s southern neighborhoods (c. 4 km to the northwest; Varga 2012; Nahshoni 2008) and in Ashqelon. In Ashqelon (Peretz 2017), c. 10 km to the southwest, a well with a barrel vault similar to that of the Giv‘ati pumping station tomb was unearthed. The well and settlement remains there date from the second century BCE.
The ceramic finds in the tomb fill and around it, which dates from Iron Age III, attest to a nearby late Iron Age settlement. The archaeological survey of the Be’er Tuviya map identified two Iron Age potsherd scatterings approximately 1 km from the current excavation (O. Sion and L. Barda, pers. Comm.). The rich pottery assemblage from the excavation is not consistent with random finds that were rolled or swept there, indicating that another Iron Age site was probably located in the immediate vicinity. The site’s proximity to the coastline and the pottery discovered in the excavation attest to cultural and trade relations with other countries in the Mediterranean Basin.