Paper No. 147-3
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
IN SEARCH OF THE “SOLOMONIC” HARBOR, JAFFA, ISRAEL
To test whether a lowland east of ancient Jaffa, Tel Aviv, was a coastal embayment and possible harbor of antiquity, we collected eight Geoprobe cores from Groningen Park, ~800 meters east of the citadel. Biblical accounts suggest an active Iron Age harbor at Jaffa, noting shipments from Hiram to Solomon. However, the modern harbor is small, exposed and famously dangerous, and limited archaeological work indicates a Roman origin. Groningen Park is historically documented as a 19th C. freshwater wetland, and it is the lowest topographical feature in the area. For these reasons, the study site seemed the most logical location for a buried harbor of Solomon. GPR confirmed thick artificial fill across the entire park but was otherwise unable to penetrate the fine-grained section. Stratigraphic units, obtained from cores and dated with RC14 and OSL, include two thick Pleistocene mature sands with well-developed paleosols. A transgressive surface rises from -2 m to +4 m relative msl. Above this, middle-late Holocene deposits are thin, organic-bearing clays. Brackish conditions in the western part of the study area are indicated by our micropaleontological data, and we tentatively interpret this as the head of a small micro-tidal estuary with restricted circulation due to bar development at the coast; however, spring-fed brackish wetlands are known from the coastal plain. Freshwater conditions otherwise dominated the area, with a late Holocene succession to freshwater wetlands across the entire site. Holocene deposits mostly lie above present sea level and, assuming tectonic stability, there is little accommodation for harboring or anchorage. Our analysis suggests that more open conditions may have existed to the west, and a Tel Aviv metropolitan borehole 300 meters west encountered thick clay that likely correlates to the upper portion of our cores, indicating a quiet open water body, but paleoenvironmental data and dates are lacking. In conclusion, we did not definitively discover the ancient “Solomonic” harbor. It may lie to the west, nearer the citadel. Unlike many coastal settings of the Mediterranean, in which topography and overall setting reveal the likelihood of a buried anchorage, this location, which appears fruitful at the surface, proved otherwise and the location of Solomon’s harbor remains elusive.