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. Although there was a lively settlement in the site of Yavneh-Yam during biblical times, there is no mention in the Bible to this specific place.

Site Identification

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 mahuzfor harbor. It seems that this name was used in ancient Semitic languages with the meaning harbor as evident from Ancient Egyptian
Madaba Map sources mentioning a city called 'mhz' along the Mediterranean, which has been identified with Yavneh-Yam.

Throughout history, the Hebrew name "Yavneh" and the Greek name "Iamneia" (Jamnea) are both used. It is clear that the same site name is meant, as evident from the famous Madaba Mapin Jordan, of the 6thcentury CE unfortunately preserving only inland Iamneia, which is denominated 'Jabne'el, also named Iamneia'.As was usual along the southern section of the Israeli Mediterranean coast in antiquity, cities had both coastal and inland settlements.

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 survival. 

Its harbor was Yavneh-Yam as evident from several medieval maps where the harbor is qualified either as "Jewish", such as in Abraham Ortelius' map from 1584, called Jamnia Iudeorum Portus (Jamnia, the Jewish harbor)or as "The Harbor of Iamneia" in J. Schott's map from 1513, and thus not leaving any doubt of its identification with Jamnia-on-the-Sea (Yavneh-Yam).