In August 2020, a trial excavation was carried out near the Gan Yavne Industrial Zone (Permit No. A-8787; map ref. 631583–750/171858–2022; Fig. 1), prior to development work. The excavation, conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Arim Urban Development Company Ltd., was directed by I. Radashkovsky (field photography, metal detection), with the assistance of Y. Amrani and Z. Lotan (administration), D. Golan, I. Shapira, M. Viesel and K. Serezo (preliminary probing), V. Shustin (area supervision), I. Rosenthal (scientific guidance), I. Jonish (field photography, surveying and photogrammetry), M. Abu (plans), A. Dagot (location map and GPS), A. Bouchenino (pottery), L. Perry Gal (archaeozoology), R. Hofien (beads), L. Rauchberger (clay tobacco pipe), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), A. Glick (military artifact), D. Gazit (studio photography) and D. Barkan, Y. Tepper, Y. Arbel, and T. Harpak (scientific consultation). Students from the ‘Mishlama for Yafo’ program and laborers from a manpower company participated in the excavation.
The excavation area extended along the southeastern margin of Gan Yavne, where the Arab village of Barqa was located until 1948. Surveys and excavations conducted in the area in the past uncovered finds from the Persian, Roman–Early Islamic and Ottoman periods (Ben-Ari 2012; Barda and Zbenovich 2012: Site 63). Most of the archaeological remains exposed at the site, including remains of walls, a bathhouse, a church, caves and workshop debris, dated to the Byzantine period.
Ten excavation squares opened in three areas (Figs. 2, 3) uncovered Ottoman-period settlement remains (Area A), a rock-hewn pit (Area B) and a dug pit that was probably a hearth (Area C). The finds, including mostly Ottoman-period pottery, an early twentieth-century army uniform button, Ottoman-period glass bottles and beads, metal tools, and animal bones, provide evidence of settlement in the Ottoman period.
Five squares were excavated in two areas located c. 10 m apart (A1, A2: each 75 sq. m; Fig. 4); the remains probably belonged to the same complex.
. A thin layer of small fieldstones and roots (L27, L31) contained mixed finds including glass and metal artifacts, animal bones and an army uniform button (Fig. 5). An underlying habitation layer, composed of tamped earth and crushed kurkar
stones, yielded in situ
Ottoman-period pottery (L34, L35; 13.5 ×
13.5 m; Fig. 6); this layer probably extended over a larger area. Two round metal ovens with flat bases (L42, L44) lay in the hamra
next to the western balk (L40). Oven 42 (diam. 0.7 m, depth 0.8 m; Fig. 7) was full of stones and ash, and an upturned metal pot (Figs. 8, 9) covering over a set of metal coffee vessels, lay on its base. The coffee set included two jugs (B1106, B1107; Fig. 10:1, 2 respectively), a long-handled flat-based ladle (B1110; Fig. 10:3) and a portable primus stove (B1108; Fig. 10:4). The jugs (mibhara
) had a flat-based piriform-shaped body with a large handle and a spout. They were used to brew coffee with cardamom; maybe jug no. 1, with a decorative domed lid was also used to serve the coffee (Brosh 2002). The long-handled ladle was used for roasting the coffee beans (Radashkovsky 2016
). Smaller Oven 44 (diam. 0.55 m, depth 0.8 m) was poorly preserved and was mostly observed in the section; it was filled with soil mixed with ash and stones containing a few Ottoman potsherds.
Area A2. A thin layer of stones mixed with a few roots (L33) yielded two Ottoman-period glass bottles. One screw-top bottle made of brown glass (B1080; Fig. 11:1) had a number on its base, a feature found on the earliest industrially produced medicine bottles to the present day. The other bottle made of yellowish-tinged colorless glass (B1040; Fig. 11:2) was also industrially produced. The bottle’s special contour with two flattened sides and a small opening suggests that it may have been a bottle for perfume or ethereal oils; it probably originally had a label specifying the product and the manufacturer. In the center of the area, an elliptical shaped feature composed of at least three stone courses (L36; 0.75 × 0.85 m; Fig. 12), overlay the sterile hamra soil (L37). The simple structure—upper course built of large and medium-sized stones (0.20 × 0.25 × 0.45 m; 0.1 × 0.2 × 0.3 m), lower courses built of small stones—may have supported the pole of a pitched tent. Area A2 yielded four glass beads, animal bones and Ottoman-period pottery.
An elongated pit hewn in the kurkar rock containing packed brownish gray soil (L10; 0.50–1.00 × 1.85 m, depth 0.38 m; Fig. 13) may originally have been a natural depression subsequently enlarged by hewing. The pit yielded a few Ottoman-period potsherds.
The remains of a round pit dug into the ground were identified in one square (L15; diam. 1.9 m, depth 1.5 m; Fig. 14); the three other squares were devoid of finds. The upper part of the pit (L19) contained ash, large stones and animal bones, suggesting that it may have been a hearth. The accumulated soil in the pit yielded a few Ottoman-period sherds, and a fragment of a reddish brown slipped and burnished clay tobacco pipe bowl with a rouletted and incised decoration, dated to the second half of the nineteenth century CE (chibouk; L19, B1013; Fig. 15). The packed soil at the bottom of the pit was devoid of finds.
The excavation yielded a single Byzantine-period Gaza jar sherd (Fig. 16:1) and a single Mamluk-period decorated body sherd (L29, B1066; Fig. 17). The late Ottoman-period pottery assemblage included various vessels, mostly Gaza Ware. The assemblage comprised ‘arabe kraters for kneading dough (Fig. 16:2) and masharat bowls for proving it (Fig. 16:3); serving bowls, including a kashkul (Fig. 16:4), zavdiya bowls for butter (Fig. 16:5–8) and carinated bowls (Fig. 16:9, 10); beurroniye- and samna-type pots for storing dairy products, such as leben and butter (Fig. 16:11, 12); vessels for storing and carrying water included bag-shaped jars (Fig. 18:2, 3), large zir jars for storing liquids (Fig. 18:4) and ibriq jugs for pouring water (Fig. 18:5, 6); and simple vessels made of red-orange clay included a basin (Fig. 18:1) and handmade cooking pots (Fig. 18:7, 8), one decorated on the outer wall (Fig. 18:7).
Area A2 yielded four glass beads (L30/B1082, L23/B1059; Figs. 19, 20 respectively). The opaque blue glass beads (diam. 8–10 mm, thickness 6 mm) were of the ‘short annular’ type, and they were produced by trailing melted glass around a mandrel (Spaer 2001:45–46). Three beads exhibited sharp spikes that formed near the rims as a result of the molten glass trailing around the mandrel and catching on it while it rotated and cooled. Circular linear weathering, characteristic of glass beads, was visible on one bead (Griffiths 1980; Newton and Davison 1997). The bead holes were smooth and clean, probably as the result of using good-quality bead release, consisting of a plant ash mixture that may have contained dry animal dung and clay. This mixture was coated on the metal mandrel on which the glass was melted, to prevent it from sticking to the hot metal, and after cooling the bead was released from the mandrel and thoroughly cleaned; a coarse bead-release mixture would have left marks and even dry particles inside the hole.
Glass beads were produced and traded throughout the Ottoman empire and beyond, the origin of the raw material and the place of manufacture only identifiable by chemical analysis.
The beads retrieved in the excavation were probably part of a jewelry item or an amulet; similar beads are also often found in Ottoman-period burials, for example, at Zarnuqa, Rehovot (Ajami 2007
). Nomadic cultures in the Middle East, from the Early Islamic period until today, traditionally wear beads in different ways, and opaque blue glass beads were very common as a means of protection against the evil eye, diseases, snake venom, poisoning and death. They were mostly worn by children and women, who were believed to have a greater need for protection than men (Dubin 2015:97; Spaer 2001:33).
The iron finds, mostly coming from the upper stone layer (L31) in Area A1, included three pegs or nails of various sizes (Fig. 21:1–3), three horseshoes (Fig. 21:4–6), a sickle (Fig. 21:7) and probably a can opener (Fig. 21:8). All the finds were attributed to the Ottoman period.
A brass button (diam. 22.9 mm), bearing the USA coat of arms, was found (Fig. 22).
This button type, designated a Great Seal button as it depicts the official seal of the United States, was used on the dress uniform of United States Army general service units soldiers (excluding the engineering units) from 1902 until today (Rosignoli 1986:78, Nos. 31, 32). The buttons were produced in many sizes and forms (Johnson 1948:65–69, Pls. 255–281) by different manufacturers whose marks usually appeared on the back of the button. This button has no manufacturer’s mark and is therefore difficult to date. The front of the button has a finely lined background and the decoration is rather archaic, supporting a production date in the first half of the twentieth century CE. The improvised copper/brass wire ring in the button’s shank suggests that it may have been a pendant or a souvenir.
Lee Perry Gal
A few animal bones were retrieved from undisturbed loci in the habitation levels in Areas A1 and A2, and in the pit in Area C; all the loci were dated to the Ottoman period or later. The bones were identified using as reference the comparative collection of the archaeozoological laboratory of the University of Haifa. The identified bones were classified according to Davis (1992) and examined for signs of butchering (Seetah 2006), pathologies (Bartosiewicz 2008), predator gnawing marks (Fisher 1995) and burning (Stiner et al. 1995). The degree of epiphyseal fusion of the mammals’ bones was determined according to Haber (2001; 2007). Taphonomic phenomena caused by environmental conditions were categorized according to Behrensmeyer (1978).
Five bones were identified and basic taphonomic indices were taken (see Appendix [Hebrew]). The three bones from Area C (L15, L19) comprised two toe bones of Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) and one bone of a large mammal, probably a distal femur, that was too friable to identify the species. One deer toe was burnt to a degree characteristic of cooking directly on an open fire, such as roasting, and the other one had two consecutive knife-cut marks that are often evidence of animal-skinning. In Area A (L32), part of an anterior lower jaw with primary teeth was probably of a young gazelle, and a rib bone belonged to a medium-sized herbivore, whose species was not identified. These bones bore no signs of pathologies or marks made by predators or rodents.
The small bone assemblage, including a Persian fallow deer, a gazelle and wild herbivores, showed that these animals were common in this area in the Ottoman period, and were hunted and eaten.
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