Archaeological Dig in Palmachim Airbase Archaeological Dig in Palmachim Airbase Archaeological Dig in Palmachim Airbase

The most unique founding was a 100-year-old coin from the Ottoman period IAF Palmachim airbase boasts thousands of buried archeological artifacts. Energetic students arrived at the base last week in order to find them

Nadav Berger

Alongside advanced UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) of the 21st century, the new systems of the “Black Hawk” helicopters and the advanced simulators, there appear to be countless historical artifacts that are hundreds and even thousands of years old on the premises of the Palmachim airbase. Last week, around 20 archeology students arrived at the airbase, where they conducted an archeological dig, during which they looked for archeological artifacts.

They conducted the excavation in order to map out areas, investigate them and understand what events took place over the years. The students of the Department of Archeology and Middle East Cultures at Tel Aviv University spent the whole day looking for artifacts such as potsherds, jars and remnants of ancient buildings, household appliances, glass and coins.

The Ancient Gates
The searches that were conducted last week were not a one-time event, but part of a comprehensive study of an area spanning 100 square kilometers between the city of Yavne and the west coast, where the ancient port city of “Yavne-Yam” stood for thousands of years.
The area in question includes the premises of Palmachim airbase. Over the years, the base commanders have been cooperating with archeologists and have allowed them to come to the base to carry out excavations and archeological searches.

In the past, the excavations have managed to uncover remnants of an entrance gate to “Yavne-Yam” and a Byzantine gate, which was discovered in 1995 and is on display to visitors at the base to this day.
“The base occupies a large area and, obviously, is not always open to excavations. Nonetheless, the fact that it is fenced off and that it has many areas that have not been used means that the artifacts are better preserved and unharmed, unlike the artifacts in open areas where tractors and jeeps travel”, explains Professor Moshe Fisher, one of the mentors of the study.

“You will always find something”
The dig, which began in the late 80s and expected to be completed within the last few years, is currently led by Professor Moshe Fisher and Doctor Itamar Taxel. The surveyed area, which includes the area of the airbase as said, was populated by humans for the past thousands of years.
“The vicinity to the sea, the fertile ground and the near-by settlements, drew people to settle in the area”, explained Doctor Taxel. During the day, the students moved in the northern-east part of the airbase, where they found four concentrations of building remnants, potsherds and many other tools created between the Byzantine period (1500 years ago) and the period of the British mandate (1918-1948).

The most unique founding was a 100-year-old coin from the Ottoman period. The coin was probably used as a woman necklace.
“Even after years of digging, we always find something new that is added to the puzzle that is the human activity in the region”, said Professor Fisher. The findings will be documented, catalogued and published by the archaeologies in a few years, when the dig comes to an end.

Among the students was one that was familiar with the airbase in advance – Sergeant (Res.) Ilia, an airborne mechanic from the “Rolling Sword” squadron which is located in the base.
“It is nice to know that wherever you dig in Israel, you will probably find something and it is even nicer when it happens in your second home”, he said.