The site of Tell el- ‘Ajjul is situated ca. ten kilometres south of modern-day Gaza city and at the mouth of Wadi Ghazzah (Fig. 1). It was first excavated by W. M. F. Petrie during the 1930s (Petrie 1931; 1932; 1933; 1934). It was during Petrie’s excavations that Palaces I–IV and Cities I–III were uncovered, with the palaces being excavated in the north part of the tell and the cities in the southern end (Sparks 2005: 24). It was estimated that Tell el- ‘Ajjul covered an area of twelve hectares (Broshi and Gophna 1986: Table 9).
The earliest MBA remains from Tell el- ‘Ajjul date to the MB I represented by Groups 3 & 4 burials in the ‘Courtyard Cemetery’ (Tufnell 1962; Stewart 1974; Oren 1992; Greenberg 2019: 245). The next settlement dates to the MB III, in which Palace I was constructed. This Palace was built using massive sandstone blocks which came from the cutting of the ‘Great Fosse’ around the site (Petrie 1933: 1). Palace I has been understood as a ‘Courtyard Palace’ based on the design of a large square courtyard surrounded by rooms (ibid.: 2). A possible city wall was identified by Petrie on the north of this Palace (Petrie 1932: 2). Palace I was destroyed by conflagration which was seen in the ca. six-inch ash layer across the palace (ibid.: 4). Five hundred and ninety-eight burials were identified dating to the MBA on top of the tel (Robertson 1999: 193). The earliest of these burials date to the early part of the MB III, with a peak in the last phase of the MB III which follows the settlement pattern of the site. The MBA tombs consist of simple pits to excavated chambers and contained a number of material remains including pottery, gold, and weapons (ibid.: 200–201).
During the LBA Tell el- ‘Ajjul reduced in size (Gonen 1984: Table 1). The LBA at Tell el- ‘Ajjul is represented by a succession of Palaces (II–IV). Palace II, dating to the LB IA–IB, had the thinnest walls of all the palaces excavated, and no defensive architecture was found associated with this Palace (Morris 2005: 41). It has been suggested that under the rule of the 18th Dynasty, after the defeat of the Hyksos, the site was not repopulated with Egyptian citizens and became a small garrison which is reflected in the construction of Palace II (Morris 2005: 40). Palaces III and IV, LB IIA–IIB, were built according to the same plan with little architectural changes (Petrie 1932: 5). Palace III had thicker walls than the previous palace and was buttressed (ibid.: 4). Between Palaces II–IV there is no evidence of destruction. A cemetery that Petrie associated with the 18th dynasty was uncovered to the north of the palaces (1934: Pl. LI). Seemingly, only a select number of the burials excavated were published and therefore, this is something to be explored which, will assist with the stratigraphy and dating of the site. During these recent excavations eight horizons were excavated in which a number of architectural features were exposed (Fischer 2009: 246). Additionally, a large ceramic assemblage was uncovered and is reflective of the assemblage uncovered during Petrie’s excavations (Fisher 2009: Table 1).
Geology of the Region
The southern Coastal Plain is a transition zone between Mediterranean and arid climate zones (Roskin and Bergman 2013: 74). The coastal belt in this region, ca. 1–2km wide, and is covered with sand dunes composed of white sand about 20–40km above sea level. (Abu Maila et al. 2004: 84) The major mineral components of these sand dunes are quartz and feldspars (ibid.). The modern-day Gaza Strip sits over the Pleistocene coastal aquifer, which is composed of marine sands and sandstones, and covered with quartz-rich quaternary and loess soils (Al-Agha 1995: 109). Thick clay beds suitable for ceramic production and marls of Neogene age underlie this coastal aquifer (Abu Maila et al. 2004: 85).The Besor Regionlocated, ca. 30km inland with a width of 43km is dominated bycalcareous loessial soils (Melson and Van Beek 1992; Goren et al. 2004: 300; Ben-Shlomo 2014: 780; Van Beek 2014: 16). Based on its proximity to the Coastal Plain, the geology of this region also includes some kurkar and sand-dunes (Ben Shlomo 2014: 780).
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Citation for this page
Site: Tell el-'Ajjul (Israel-Palestinian Authority/Southern Coastal Plain), Contributor(s): ; The Levantine Ceramics Project, accessed on 03 December 2023, https://www.levantineceramics.org/sites/2296-tell-el-ajjul.