The site of Yavneh-Yam has a long history lasting from the 2nd millenium BCE up to the Middle Ages. This is evident from archaeological finds rather than historical sources. For the earliest periods, we do not possess any historical evidence as to the place and the role that the site played. The Bible does not mention this specific place.
One of the main issues of Historical Geography and archaeology is the identification of existing sites with their ancient namesakes, usually by analyzing their names by reference of their medieval denominations. Thus, in the case of Yavneh-Yam, in recent times the site was called Minet Rubin (in Arabic: the harbor of Rubin) preserving the Arabic tradition of Biblical Ruben's Tomb in this area (Nabi Rubin). Also of interest is the name of the site during the Early Islamic period (9th - 10th - centuries CE), mahuz a-tani (in Arabic: the second harbor) using the ancient Aramaic word mahuz for harbor. It seems that this name was used in ancient Semitic languages with the meaning harbor as evident from Ancient Egyptian sources mentioning a city called 'mhz' along the Mediterranean, which has been identified with Yavneh-Yam.
This is the case also with Yavneh. An
almost complete list of eastern Mediterranean coastal towns and their inland pendants is
delivered by Pliny the Elder (1st century CE) in his famous Naturalis
Historia (5, 13, 68) mentioning Iamneae duae, altera intus, namely 'the two
towns Iamnea, one of them inland'. The Alexandrinian geographer Ptolemaios of the 2nd
century CE, (Book 5, 15, 2) lists the site of , 'the harbor of the people of Iamneia' between Ashdod and Jaffa.The
very famous Yavneh at least for the history of Judaism is the Inland
Yavneh, becoming one of the main centers and symbols of Late Antique Judaism and its
Yavneh-Yam through the History
Time became ripe for an open and violent conflict between the Jews and the Greeks. The major crisis came under the period of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BCE). The king occupied and destroyed the Temple at Jerusalem, killing the men, selling the women and children into slavery, forbidding the observance of Jewish laws, such as Sabbath and circumcision, and settling in the area of the Temple Mount a community of loyal population including Jews. For their safety a fortress was built over the Temple Mount, called the Akra. In December 168 BCE a sacrifice to the Olympian Zeus has been given at the Temple of Jerusalem! The year 166 BCE was crucial: at Modiin, in the Judean Hills, Mattathias and his 5 sons, John, Simeon, Judas, Eleazar and Jonathan called the "Maccabees" or the "Hasmoneans", refused to obey the King’s officer sent to Modiin in order to insist upon the presentation of the sacrifice. The events developing from now on belonging to the Hasmonean period are widely described by sources of that period and afterwards, such as the Books of Maccabeees and the writings of Josephus Flavius. According to them Mattathias said: ' Through all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away from the religion of their fathers, I and my sons will walk in the covenant of our fathers'. One of the notable stages in the struggle that began now was the Purification of the Temple at Jerusalem, the "Chanukah" of it, on the 25th of Kislev 165 BCE, a holiday which is celebrated by the Jewish people until today.
The Hellenization of the Middle East, the Land of Israel included, and the strong Jewish opposition to this process are clearly reflected in archaeological remains. Since Greek cities became targets of the bitter Maccabean fight, Hasmonean destruction layers both in Western and Eastern Palestine become crucial to understanding archaeological sites of that period.
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Further Reading for Yavneh-Yam and its History
Ayalon 1991. Ayalon, E., Large Jars from Yavneh-Yam, in: Fischer 1991, 80-88.
Ayalon, forthcoming . Ayalon, E. Water-Lifting Devices at Yavneh-Yam: Remarks to the Water Supply along the Mediterranean, in: Fischer, forthcoming.
Bar-Kochva 1988. Bar-Kochva, B. Judas Maccabaeus. The Jewish Struggle against the Seleucids. Cambridge.
Bar -Kokhva 1996. Bar -Kokhva, B Pseudo-Hecataeus 'On the Jews'. Berkeley.
Bruneau 1970. Bruneau , P. 1970. Recherches sur les cultes de Delos à l’époque hellénistique et à l’époque imperiale (Paris).
Dothan 1952. Dothan, M. , An Archaeological Survey of the Lower Rubin River, IEJ 2, 104-117.
Fischer 1991. Fischer, M. (ed. ), Yavneh-Yam and its Neighborhood (Yavneh-Yam Studies I) (Jerusalem) (Hebrew).
Fischer 1998. Fischer, M. , Archaeology of Yavneh-Yam, in: Rappel, Y. (ed. ), Yavneh through the History (Yavneh) (Hebrew).
Fischer, forthcoming (1999). Fischer, M. (ed. ), Yavneh-Yam Studies II (Collection of Papers).
Glueck 1959. Glueck, N. A Seal Weight from Nwbi Rubin. BASOR 153, 35-38.
Isaac 1991. Isaac, B. , A Seleucid Inscription from Jamnia-on-the-Sea: Antiochus V Eupator and the Sidonians, IEJ 41, 132-144.
Kaplan 1975. Kaplan, J. Further Aspects of the Middle Bronze Age II Fortifications in Palestine, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 91, 1-17.
Kaplan 1993. Kaplan, J. , Yavneh-Yam, in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (NEAEHL) (Jerusalem, 1993), Vol. 4, 1504-1506.
Kasher 1990. Kasher, A. Jews and Hellenistic Cities in Eretz-Israel. Tübingen.
Kasher 1992. Kasher, A. A Second-Century BCE Greek Inscription from Iamnia. Cathedra 63, 3-21. (Hebrew; English abstract p. 190).
Laniado and Dashti 1993. Laniado, A. and Dashti, B. , A Byzantine Lead Weight from the Port of Iamnia (Yavneh-Yam) and the Title ?F???S, Revue des Études Byzantines 51, 229-235.
Levi 1991. Levi, Y., Excavations at Yavneh-Yam, 1987, in: Fischer 1991, 89-92.
Plassart 1928. Plassart, A. Les sanctuaires et les cultes du Mont Cynthe (Exploration Archeologique de Delos 11). Paris.
Reifenberg 1950. Reifenberg, A., Archaeological Discoveries by Air Photography in Israel, Archaeology 3, 40-46.
Sharon, forthcoming. Sharon, M., Islamic Inscriptions from a Column at Yavneh-Yam, in: Fischer, forthcoming.
Stieglitz 1974. Stieglitz, R. R., Ugaritic Mhd – the harbor of Yabne-Yam ?, Journal of American Oriental Society 94, 137-138.
Thompson 1881. Thompson, W. M., The Holy Land. Southern Palestine and Jerusalem. London.
Vitto 1984. Vitto, F., Jamnitarum Portus, Qadmoniot 66-67, 76-78 (Hebrew).
Vitto 1998 - Vitto, F., Mahoza D-Yamnin: A Mosaic Floor from the Time of Eudocia? ‘Atiqot 35, 109-134.
Wolff 1998. Wolff, S., Archaeology in Israel, American Journal of Archaeology 102, 757-807.