The Tomb (Figs. 3, 4). Prior to the excavation, a narrow rock-cut opening was discovered on the southern boundary of the site. The opening led to a tunnel (Fig. 2a), and at the end of the tunnel the top of a vertical shaft was visible, probably the entrance to a burial cave (L12). The poor state of preservation, and the fact that much of the accumulated earth was left in place due to safety conerns, made it impossible to draw a full plan of the cave. Partial excavation near the opening and along 2 m to its northwest, exposed mainly parts of the southwestern and northwestern walls. The bedrock floor of the cave was only exposed at the western end.
A dense concentration of non-articulated human bones covered the floor in the northwestern part of the cave. Many bones were found also in the soil accumulation that remained in the center. Other parts of the cave where concentrations of bones were identified could not be excavated, but the assemblage that was retrieved can be considered representative of the interred population. Five individuals were identified: an infant less than one year of age, a child 4–5 years old, two adults 20–30 and 25–40 years old and another individual more than 40 years old. The adults included at least one male and one female. The range of ages and sexes in the small sample reflects a heterogeneous civilian population. Several body sherds of pottery vessels that can be dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods were found in the cave. In addition, a coin (IAA 139244) dating to the fourth century CE (383–395 CE) and a tiny glass pendant bearing the image of an animal (Gorin-Rosen below) were discovered. These artifacts date the cave to the Late Roman period.
The Wells (L10, L11). Wells were hewn in the kurkar bedrock, and unlike other wells in Yafo, they were not lined inside. The excavation of Well 10 (diam. 1.3 m, excavated depth 2.2 m; Fig. 5) was suspended because of safety concerns. The fill from the well contained a large quantity of modern construction debris, similar to that retrieved from other the wells in the street, outside the excavation area.
Prior to preparing the area for excavation it was possible to see c. 3.5 m down the southern well (L11). During the preparation, the well was blocked with earth, and the excavation exposed its elliptical-shaped top (c. 1.2 × 1.4 m; Fig. 6), whose northern edge was reinforced with stones. While cleaning around the top of the well, several body sherds of Ottoman-period pottery vessels were found. These included a fragment of a gray Gaza jug (ibriq) with a decorative band of orange slip and a fragment of a European pseudo-porcelain plate of a type imported in large quantities to Yafo during this period (not illustrated).
Previous excavation of one of the wells along Yehuda Ha-Yamit Street reached the water table c. 6 m below the surface, and this is presumably the depth of the wells in the current excavation.
When the earth that accumulated at the height to which the wells were preserved was cleared, a Cypriot roof tile (Fig. 7) was found. Buildings with tiled roofs, especially public buildings and large private structures, were a common phenomenon in Yafo in the last three decades of the nineteenth century and continued until the 1920s. The vast majority of roof tiles were imported to Israel from factories in Marseilles, France. Presumably this roof tile was imported during the British Mandate, when Israel and Cyprus were both under British control. Cypriot roof tiles were used with French ones in other sites. Cypriot roof tiles were incorporated, for example, in buildings in the Ben Shemen Youth Village, which was founded in 1927.
Glass Pendant
Yael Gorin-Rosen
A small pendant (max. length 2.5 cm) of yellowish brown glass, covered with silver iridescent weathering and some sandy encrustation, was found in the excavation (Fig. 8:1). The pendant is nearly complete. A single flaw on the edge is covered with weathering, and must have happened in antiquity. The pendant is circular disc, with a rounded suspension tab pierced with a hole sideways added at the top, to thread a chain through (Fig. 8:2). The pendant has impressed decoration on the front and a flat back. The central image is of a prancing lion facing left, his raised tail curling upward. Above the animal and to the left, are a very small star and moon (Fig. 8:3). The details of the lion’s body stand out in relief. The front of the body is in higher relief, drawing attention to the center of gravity over the front legs; the hindquarters are small and lower, and the emphasis in this part is on the tail. The line of the mane is prominent in the front, and the eye and open mouth are accentuated in the face. The legs are thin, and the relief shallow in comparison with the body.
Glass pendants adorned with animals and divinities, and a variety of symbols were very common in Syria-Palestine at the end of the Late Roman period (fourth century CE) and magical properties were attributed to them. Many of the pendants which were found in archaeological excavations and published to date, were discovered in Israel (see: Entwistle and Corby Finney 2013:139–141 for an extensive review of the subject, including a discussion of the chronology and distribution, with a general map showing all the pendants and a detailed map of the distribution in Israel). Most of the pendants in Israel were in funerary assemblages, and only a few were found in settlements, as for example a pendant with a lion that was discovered in an excavation at Migdal (Abu 'Uqsa 2005, Fig. 5).
Most of the published pendants are held in museums or private collections. The most common motif is the lion, alone or with a moon and a star. There are several examples of such lions, and they differ in their design: only some have a mane, they face in different directions, and some have other symbols. The Israel Museum has a large collection of pendants with a variety of symbols, including a selection of lions and various combinations of motifs (see Barag 2001:173–176, Cat. Nos. 355–405; a concise discussion of the group and of lion pendants is cited therein). The British Museum has a large diverse group of about 90 pendants, including a very large selection of lion pendants that differ in small details (Entwistle and Corby Finney 2013:156–160, Cat. Nos. 44–77 and many other references cited therein). The pendant from Yafo is dated to the fourth century CE. Presumably it was placed in the tomb as a funerary offering because of the significance, magical or otherwise, attributed to these pendants.
The wells and the burial cave are consistent with the overall archaeological picture of the area adjacent to Tel Yafo on the south, which was used for burial in certain periods and at others for agriculture. The cave is part of the funerary complex that extended across Givʽat Andromeda and its slopes, and which included among the burial types rock-hewn caves from the Late Roman period. It seems that the two wells belonged to houses in the residential quarter that developed as the city expanded to the south in the late nineteenth century CE. Contemporary sources describe numerous such wells in the courtyards. A well in the courtyard of a house that probably stood on the site is marked on a Mandatory map from the 1930s and it may be one of the two wells that were exposed in the excavation. Although not unique, the site has contributed significantly to the overall archaeological picture related to the history of the city in the periods.