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Researchers from the Department and Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University uncovered Yavne-Yam for the first time

The remains of a fortress and a bath house from the early Islamic period were discovered in the archaeological excavations conducted for the first time on the reef of the ancient port city of Yavne-Yam

The excavation site in Yavne-Yam. Photo: Tel Aviv University
The excavation site in Yavne-Yam. Photo: Tel Aviv University

In the archaeological excavations on the reef of Yavne-Yam that ended a few days ago, the researchers uncovered the remains of a fortress and a bathhouse from the early Islamic period (12th-8th centuries AD). Yavne-Yam, located between Jaffa and Ashdod, not far from the mouth of Nahal Sorek, was an important port city. The site was used as a port for settlements in the interior of the country almost continuously from the Bronze Age (mid-XNUMXnd millennium BC) to the Middle Ages.

Prof. Moshe Fisher from the Department and Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University, who heads the Yavne-Yam archaeological project, who conducted the excavation with Itamar Taksel from the Department of Archaeology, noted that in this season of excavations - which is the ninth since the project began in 1992 - systematic excavations were conducted for the first time on the reef of Yavneh- Sea, which protrudes into the sea, and is the southern limit of a natural anchorage that has been used for this purpose since the Bronze Age. According to Prof. Fisher, the results of the excavations of the current season verify the continuous exploitation of the place throughout history.

Public buildings, villas and spectacular mosaics
During the excavations in the previous seasons, many areas of the Yavne-Yam site were uncovered which included public buildings, baths, residential villas, workshops and warehouses. In the Byzantine period there were magnificent mosaics in the city, one of which was uncovered in 2007. In the past, findings were revealed that testified to the Greekization of the city and even to its destruction during the Hasmonean days.

Fortifications, a bath house, and a prisoner exchange
In the current season, as mentioned, it was decided to conduct a thorough inspection of the reef that juts out into the sea, called in the Arab tradition "Minat Rubin" (Reuben's Port), which is the holy Reuben for the Muslims of the area. According to Prof. Fisher, the excavations yielded interesting results that included an extensive complex of fortifications consisting of walls and towers as well as a bath house - both dating from the early Islamic period - between the 12th and 8th centuries AD.
The fortification that was exposed apparently surrounded the upper surface of the sea bulge, and was built of ash stones and field stones bonded with plaster and plaster, mixed with large quantities of shells and sand - a technique accepted in Islamic construction.

In the northeastern part of the reef, the remains of a bath house were discovered, which also dates back to the early Islamic period. The bath is built according to the Roman style, but includes several adaptations for the Islamic period. As in the Roman bath, here too evidence was found for the existence of a water heating system and steam generation through a heating system based on furnaces and an underground passage. At this point, this is one of the few examples of the use of a Roman-type bath in the Land of Israel during the aforementioned period, and the only example so far of the existence of a bath in a military citadel.

According to Prof. Fisher, both the fortification and the bath that were uncovered this year add to the archaeological evidence that links Yavne-Yam with the naval citadel "Ma'azhu Yovne" (the port of Yavne), which was used, among other things, to protect the coastal area and to redeem captives between Muslims and Christians in the early Islamic period.

According to him, the finds that were uncovered in Yavne-Yam constitute a first step in the development of the excavation site within the framework of the new "Palmahim Beach" national park.

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