During June 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted in Ramla, between the parking lot near the municipality and the magistrate’s courthouse (Permit No. A-5938; map ref. 187622–73/648709–57), prior to paving a street. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ramla municipality, was directed by R. Toueg, with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), H. Rosenstein (metallurgy laboratory), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass) and D.T. Ariel (numismatics).
Numerous archaeological excavations have been carried out in Ramla over the past twenty years and architectural remains, cisterns, drainage channels, water conduits and a variety of installations were exposed. The material finds attest to its great wealth and to its having been a major commercial city from the Umayyad until the Fatimid periods (eighth–eleventh centuries CE). Building remains from the Abbasid period (Permit Nos. A-4774, A-5837) had previously been uncovered in the vicinity of the current excavation.
Six squares were opened along the course of the planned street; numerous potsherds and a few other small finds were discovered, yet architectural remains of any kind were entirely nonexistent.
The upper layer (thickness 0.2 m) was removed by a backhoe, based on probe trenches dug prior to the excavation. Only a quarter of the area in each square was excavated to depth. Beneath the upper layer was modern fill (thickness c. 1.6 m) of light colored soil and below that, black garden soil. An accumulated layer that overlay the architectural remains in many parts of the city was discovered below the modern fill in four squares. The accumulation was not completely excavated and no construction of any kind was discovered.
Numerous artifacts were discovered, although not drawn since they originated in disturbed layers. The recovered pottery represented a variety of types characteristic of Ramla, among them glazed and unglazed bowls, kraters, glazed and unglazed cooking pots, glazed and unglazed jars, flasks and fragments of ‘grenades’. All the potsherds dated from the Umayyad until the Mamluk periods (eighth–fourteenth centuries CE). Several fragments of sandal lamps from the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE) were collected, as well as pottery vessels, Marseilles roof tiles and fragments of clay pipes from the Ottoman period.
The glass vessels dated from the Umayyad to the Mamluk periods. The vessels from the Umayyad period represented very common types, for example, a beaker/bowl, a bottle decorated with a wavy trail and a base with a double tubular peripheral ring. Several fragments dated to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods, including a base of a vessel decorated with engraving and several other fragments dated to the Mamluk period and included bottles, a handle of a mosque lamp and bracelets. Two lumps of glass industrial waste were also discovered.
In addition to the potsherds and the glass fragments, three coins were found, although only two can be dated: a Mamluk coin from the fourteenth–fifteen centuries CE (IAA 136922) and an Ottoman coin from the fifteenth–sixteenth centuries CE (IAA 136921).
The excavation (max. depth 2.5 m) did not reach virgin soil. The characteristics of the bottom stratum, as well as its wealth of finds and the location of the excavation, indicates that finding architectural remains can probably be anticipated at a greater depth.