During January–February 2006, a survey was conducted in an active military firing range (Permit No. A-4615; map ref. 1738–62/6532–62; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The survey, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y. Dagan (field photography) and O. Marder, with the participation of L. Yihye (surveying), E. Eisenberg and U. ‘Ad and with the assistance of the base commander and his deputy.
The survey area is covered with recent sand dunes that probably postdated the sixth century CE. Beneath them, especially on the eastern side, are hamra strata of the Netanya Formation, lying horizontally on ancient hills of “Dor kurkar”. The sand was removed in several locations, mainly in the west, as a result of modern activity that exposed the kurkar. The vegetation on the dunes decreases the farther one moves away from the shoreline (Fig. 2). South of the area, near ‘Ain Malha on the northern bank of Nahal Soreq, are Epi-Paleolithic and Neolithic sites that N. Goring-Morris had excavated in the mid 1970s (Geoarchaeology 1:62–81).
A meticulous survey on foot was conducted in those areas that were not damaged by development activity; not all of the area was surveyed due to the presence of unexploded ammunition and security restrictions. Twelve sites that consisted of built remains and concentrations of potsherds and flints, dating to various periods, were discovered.
Sites 1 and 2 (Tel Yona; map ref. 17487/65595). The tell (1; c. 35 dunams, c. 40 m above the surrounding area) is located on the beach and a military installation is set on top of it (Fig. 3). Remains of walls, a plaster floor and shallow pits are visible on the slopes; sections of mosaic floors (Fig. 4) and an industrial installation were exposed along the eastern slope (2) as a result antiquities looting. Potsherds dating to the Persian (?), Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were gathered from the slopes of the tell.
Sites 3–5, 9–12 (map ref. 17495/65540). Young layers of kurkar were exposed beneath the sand in an area (c. 20 dunams) of low dunes and hamra patches. Archaeological finds atop these layers included mainly flint implements of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, as well as potsherds from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods.
Sites 6 and 7 (map ref. 17545/65444). The hamra layers were cut by extensive digging (Fig. 5) outside the base fence in the eastern part of the area; a number of flint implements were collected from the outcrops, including Canaanean sickle blades and flint debitage.
Site 8 (map ref. 17489/65517). Potsherds from the Hellenistic and Roman periods were found on the western slope of a kurkar hill that was leveled during the course of development work (Fig. 6). These fragments were apparently brought over by the earthmoving work and are not in situ.
The recent sand dunes cover ancient sites, the earliest of which are dated to prehistoric times. The remains at Sites 3–5 and 9–12 point to ancient occupation along the kurkar hills, near the beach; they join others, which were designated as antiquities sites by the Department of Antiquities in the 1970s and may possibly have been damaged when the firing range was prepared.