In January and February 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Mar Ya‘aqub neighborhood in Yafi‘a (Permit No. A-4696; map ref. 2260/7326; Fig. 1), following damage to ancient remains during development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by M. Cohen (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘akobi (administration), A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS), N. Getzov (pottery) and workers from Kefar Manda.
The excavation took place on the northwestern slope of Mar Ya‘aqub, the hill on which the village nucleus grew up, c. 70 m from the hilltop, after a trench dug in the course of development work revealed rock-hewn cavities that had previously been damaged by modern quarrying —a bell-shaped pit, a rectangular cavity and the remains of a cave. Pottery sherds from the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and the Roman, Byzantine, Early Islamic and Ottoman periods were retrieved on the surface and in the disturbed soil. A single excavation square opened three meters east of the trench, revealed four building phases (4–1; Figs. 2, 3) including construction remains and soil accumulations.
Phase 4. A crushed chalk living surface lay above a natural soil layer that had accumulated on the uneven bedrock, levelling it out. An accumulation layer (L20) on the surface (Fig. 2: Section 1–1) yielded a few animal bones and Late Bronze Age pottery sherds (not drawn).
Phase 3. The foundation trench (L23) of a large wall (W11) cut the crushed chalk living surface. The foundations of W11 were built of alternating fieldstones and ashlars, without mortar, interspersed with small stone wedges. Three mudbricks found in a collapsed heap next to and east of the wall foundations indicate that a mudbrick wall apparently overlay the stone foundations (Fig. 4). A living surface made of a well-compacted crushed chalk layer (L15) overlay soil layer L20 (Fig. 2: Section 1–1), probably abutted the western face of W11. A thin ash layer (thickness c. 0.2 m) accumulated on the living surface, probably also abutting W11. In the northern part of the square, a silo, lined with fieldstones (L25), was built into the occupation level and was contemporaneous with it.
Phase 2. The Phase 3 ash layer was overlain by a thin floor layer of crushed chalk mixed with ash (L13), which was cut by a robber trench of W11. Two small hearths were set on Floor 13, and a depression that was dug into the floor, contained jar sherds. Sherds dating from the Late Bronze or Early Iron Age were found in the accumulation layer overlying Floor 13 (not drawn).
Phase 1. In the final phase, an accumulation layer of soil and small stones overlay the earlier remains. The sherds in these layers dated from the Late Bronze Age to the Ottoman period (not drawn).
The finds in the small excavation support the existence of a settlement at Yafi‘a in the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. The carefully built foundations of Wall 11, attest to a high standard of construction. The consecutive floors associated with the wall, apparently disrupted by burnt levels, may reflect continuity of settlement, rather than the abandonment of the site within this period.