In March 2019, a salvage excavation was conducted at 17 Bet Eshel Street in Yafo (Permit No. A-8477; map ref. 177240–71/662315–44), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Y. Cohen and G. Bachar, was directed by M. Mermelstein, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), L. Rauchberger and I. Jonish (preliminary probes and field photography), P. Gendelman (pottery identification), V. Essman (surveying and drafting), Y. Asscher (analytical laboratory), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), R. Buchnik (faunal remains), Y. Tepper (advisor), A. Peretz (field photography), Y. Arbel (consulting), D. Barkan, D. Abu Salah, Workers of the Tel Aviv District of the Israel Antiquities Authority and workers from Bir el-Maksur and Nablus.
Sixteen squares were excavated, yielding the remains of an Iron Age 2 installation, a building from the Hellenistic period, several potsherds from the Roman period and a wall from the Ottoman period that was formerly part of Khan Manuli (Fig. 1).
Iron Age 2 (sixth century BCE). The remains from this period comprise a circular installation (Fig. 2) built of mud-bricks and various pottery vessels. Remains from the Iron Age were previously exposed at the Clock Square (Peilstöcker 2009).
The Hellenistic period (fourth–third centuries BCE). Remains of an extensive massive structure were exposed (Fig. 3), in which three phases of construction were identified. Some of the walls of the building were decorated with frescoes and stucco. A rich ceramic assemblage was found, comprising mainly tableware and imported wine amphorae. Coins, metal items and a large amount of animal bones were also found.
Remains from the Hellenistic period are known from previous excavations on Bet Eshel Street and on nearby streets—Rabbi Hanina, Rabbi Pinhas and Ben Gamli’el (Arbel 2018, and see references therein). The construction phases identified in the excavation point to a continuous settlement during the Hellenistic period. The rich finds, the large dimensions of the building, the imported vessels and the fresco and stucco decorations of the walls, all attest to the wealth of the inhabitants, perhaps landowners or merchants who had economic ties with and a strong cultural affinity for the Hellenic world of the Mediterranean basin.
Arbel Y. 2018. Yafo, Ben Gamli’el Street. HA-ESI 130
Peilstöcker M. 2009. Yafo, Clock-Tower Square. HA-ESI 121.