The excavation was conducted in the city center of Yehud and formed the continuation of two large excavations conducted immediately to the west of the present one (Jakoel 2015 [Fig. 1: A-6854]; Permit No. A-8283). These and other excavations in the area exposed many remains and finds from the late Chalcolithic through to the Ottoman periods (Jakoel 2019 [Fig. 1: A-8111]; Itach 2023, and see further references therein).
In the present excavation, 32 squares were opened, exposing a lower stratum (III) of light-colored sandy soil, directly overlain with potsherds, mostly dating from the fourth–eighth centuries CE; a middle stratum (II) of hamra, containing graves from the Early Islamic period; and an upper stratum (I) of dark clayey soil, containing mostly infrastructure of modern buildings (not detailed below). The excavation further yielded a small number of potsherds from the late Chalcolithic period, the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze Ages and from the Roman period. The remains, particularly the graves, were damaged by the foundations of a modern building that penetrated the ancient layers.
Stratum III
The stratum comprises a layer of pottery at the interface between the light-colored sandy soil and the hamra. At some places the layer is shallow and at others it splits into two layers separated by sandy soil. The layer contained small stones and worn potsherds, mostly dating from the fourth–eighth centuries CE, as well as some sherds from the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze Ages and from the Roman–Early Islamic periods (below). The worn state of the sherds and their long chronological span indicate that they are not in situ but were washed here, probably from a nearby site.
Stratum II
Forty-one pit graves (Figs. 2–5), dug into the hamra and the sandy soil, were exposed over the entire excavation area. The graves contained at least 44 individuals in primary burial (below); the bones were examined on site and reburied.
Contrary to the situation in nearby cemeteries (Jakoel 2015), very few burial goods were recovered next to the deceased. Finds were recovered only in four graves (T111, T117, T157, T182): Near the head of the individual in Grave 111 was a metal knife (13 cm; Fig. 6), probably of iron, which had a hilt made of wood or some other organic material that was not preserved; next to the head of the individual in Grave 117, identified as a male over 40 years old, was a glass bottle dating from the Early Islamic period (Winter, below); next to the ankle of the individual in Grave 157, identified as an infant aged 0.5–1.0 years, were pieces of a metal artifact (Fig. 7:1; B1143), probably an iron bracelet or anklet; and near the fingers of the individual in Grave 182 was a metal ring (Fig. 7:2; B1173) probably of copper alloy.
Due to the penetration of several graves into Stratum III, the pottery found in Stratum II was similar to that of Stratum III. However, the count of Early Islamic pottery in Stratum II was higher, with most potsherds dating from the Umayyad period (seventh–eighth centuries CE; below).
The Anthropological Finds. The state of preservation of the bones in the graves was very poor; most disintegrated. Most of the graves held a single individual; only in a few were two or three individuals, one on top of the other. All the deceased were laid on their right side, in a general east–west orientation, head to west and facing south—a position characteristic of a Muslim population (Gorzalczany 2007; 2009)—apart from a single grave (T112), in which three individuals were placed in a supine position, slightly to the right. Age and sex determination is based on cranial and dental indices (Hillson 1986:176–201; Bass 2005).
The bones represent at least 44 individuals (Table 1), including an infant, children and adults of both sexes—a typical demographic cross section of a rural civil population. Although only one infant was identified (T157), his presence proves that infants were also buried in the cemetery. The poor state of preservation of the bones and the fact that these are pit graves without any marker, such as a tombstone or tumulus, are a likely explanation for the absence of more infant graves. Among the adults, there were at least five males, three individuals possibly identified as males and three females.
Table 1. The anthropological finds
Age Group (years)
Adults of Unknown Age
Unknown Age
The poor state of preservation of most bones prevented a thorough survey of pathologies. However, a single adult (T162), identified as a 40–50 years old male, was documented with a dental pathology in the lower jaw. A considerable accumulation of calculus was observed on the front teeth, along with a hole on the right side of the first molar, caused by caries at the juncture of the crown and root (CEJ; Fig. 8). The infection generated pus that broke through the alveolar bone.
The Early Islamic pottery (seventh–eighth centuries CE) was found in context of the pit graves, but the rest of the pottery (from the Mamluk and later periods) was washed into the sand and clay layers or was found on the surface. Therefore, the pottery will be presented chronologically.
The late Chalcolithic Period and the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. The few non-indicative body sherds from these periods (not drawn) included fragments of a churn and a bowl from the late Chalcolithic period, as well as fragments of jars, bowls and an open lamp from the Middle and Late Bronze Ages.
The Roman Period. The few sherds from this period include cooking pots (Fig. 9:1, 2) with outturned rims, either with or without a ridge, an upright neck and a handle extending from the rim, as well as a jar (Fig. 9:3) with an exterior ridge on the rim and an upright neck.
The Byzantine Period. The assemblage includes local bowls (Fig. 9:4) with a thickened, infolded rim, Cypriot bowls (CRSW Form 9; Fig. 9:5) and Phocaean bowls of PRSW Form 3F (Fig. 9:6) and PRSW Form 10A (Fig. 9:7), all with a molded rim with plastic decoration; a cooking pot (Fig. 9:8) with a thickened, outturned rim, a neckless globular body and a single-ridged, wide handle extending from the rim; a cooking-vessel lid (Fig. 9:9) with an outturned, notched rim and a convex body with shallow ribbing; a casserole (Fig. 9:10) with a thickened, grooved and outturned rim and a shallow, wide body with shallow ribbing; local jars (Fig. 9:11) with a thickened, round and outturned rim and a conical neck; Gaza jars (Fig. 9:12) with an upright, thickened low rim, no neck and a wide, coarsely formed shoulder; bag-shaped jars (Fig. 9:13) with an upright, round and thickened rim and a ribbed shoulder; and southern bag-shaped jars (Fig. 9:14, 15) with a thin rim, a thickened low neck and a shallow-ribbed shoulder.
The Early Islamic Period. Most of the few sherds from the period were found in the pit graves. All sherds are of storage vessels dating from the Umayyad period (seventh–eighth centuries CE), including bag-shaped jars (Fig. 9:16) with a thin rim and an upright neck and zir jars (Fig. 9:17, 18) with a thin rim and a thick neck and body.
The Mamluk, Ottoman and Modern Periods. Pottery found in the upper, clayey soil (Stratum I) includes the fragment of a Mamluk-period cooking vessel with perforations near the rim and plastic decoration, as well as fragments of dark gray–black Gaza Ware and Marseille roof tiles (not drawn).
The Glass
Tamar Winter
The excavation yielded a small complete glass bottle (T117, B1046), as well as a bottle neck (L143, B1119; not illustrated) and a small body fragment (L157, B1144; not illustrated). The complete bottle (7 cm tall; Fig. 10) was made of light-green glass and has a rounded rim (diam. 2.6–2.7 cm), a funnel-shaped neck, a pear-shaped body and a concave bottom with a pontil scar on its underside. At about mid-height of the body’s interior is an irregular, horizontal and hollow fold. This bottle is exceptional due to its small size and the irregular hollow fold.
Glass vessels with an interior hollow fold, comprising mostly bottles and jugs, were widespread throughout most of the Islamic era. A bottle resembling the one found in Yehud, but larger (12.1 cm tall), is said to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean basin and was dated to the tenth–thirteenth centuries CE (Brosh 2003:346, No. 455). Similarly-decorated vessels were also uncovered in a context dated to the late Byzantine–early Umayyad periods at Ashdod (Barag 1967:37, 72, Fig. 16:14) and in contexts dated to the Umayyad and Abbasid–Fatimid periods at Ramla (Gorin-Rosen 2010:219–220, 240, Pls. 10.2:3a; 10.6:23). A jug with an interior hollow fold at mid-height of its pear-shaped body allegedly originated from Iran and was dated to the eleventh–twelfth centuries CE (Shindo 2002:20, 79, No. 15). Vessels with an interior fold were also used in the Crusader and Late Islamic periods (twelfth–fifteenth centuries CE; see for example, Gorin-Rosen 1997:80–81, Fig. 2:9).
The bottle from Yehud may be dated to the Umayyad or early Abbasid period (seventh–ninth centuries CE) by its shape and fabric, as well as by the pottery uncovered with it. This bottle enriches the repertoire of glass vessels with an interior hollow fold from the Early Islamic period.
The results of the excavation accord with those of previous excavations and contribute toward a better understanding of the extent of the burial field of ancient Yehud. The finds, particularly those found in burial context, allow to narrow the chronological range of the burials within the Early Islamic period to the seventh–eighth centuries CE. Past excavations exposed Byzantine-period burials at Yehud, mostly characterized by cist graves lined with ashlars or fieldstones (Milevski 2008) or covered with stone slabs. With the transition to the Early Islamic period, simple pit graves became common. These graves were devoid of architectural markers and grave goods, as documented in the present excavation. A comparison of Muslim cemeteries from various periods, including, for example, those of Yafo and Jerusalem, dated to the late Islamic and Ottoman periods (Arbel 2017; Sulimani 2017, respectively), enables an observation of the similarities and differences in Muslim burial customs through the ages.