During March 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted on Ussishkin Street in Ramla (Permit No. A-6159; map ref. 187380–416/649610–39), in the wake of probe trenches and prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by H. Torge, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), V. Eshed (probe trenches), T. Kanias (preparing the area for excavation), and A. Peretz (field photography).
The excavation was carried out in a residential quarter, in the northwestern part of Ramla, close to the railroad tracks. Four squares were excavated and foundations of walls that delimited rooms of a dwelling and a section of a paved inner courtyard, dating to the Ottoman period (eighteenth century CE), were exposed.
Wall foundations of part of a residential building were exposed (Figs. 1, 2); the floors did not survive. Two rooms (L104, L106) were partially exposed in the south of the area; they were delimited by a wall (W1) in the north and separated by another wall (W3). Room 106 was delimited in the west by Wall 2. The wall enclosing the room from the south was not revealed. Part of a long, narrow room (L108), aligned east–west, was exposed north of Rooms 104 and 106. A small segment of the wall enclosing the room from the north (W5) was exposed. The wall enclosing the room from the east was not revealed. The room was delineated on the west by the continuation of Wall 2, which extended north (length 2.9 m, preserved height 0.85 m) and may indicate the presence of one or more rooms to the north of Room 108.
The exposed wall foundations were built of two rows of medium-sized fieldstones; the stones on the exterior side were roughly hewn. The walls were built without mortar and the core consisted of small fieldstones and red hamra. The three bottom courses of W2 were wider and protruded slightly to the west. The walls were built into brown soil fill and virgin soil was exposed at their bottom, devoid of any other finds.
A stone pavement (L107; Fig. 3) was exposed in the southwestern part of the excavation; it was probably a courtyard that was paved with fairly smooth stones fitted to each other and placed directly on top of the sand. The northern part of the courtyard was enclosed by a wall whose southern side is only preserved (W4; preserved height 0.3 m).
The finds in the wall foundations were mostly worn and non-diagnostic. A handful of potsherds from the Ottoman period were found, dating to the beginning of the eighteenth century CE (not drawn).
Based on the walls and the courtyard floor that shared the same elevation, it seems that the building was damaged as a result of later construction, which damaged the floors of the rooms that were not preserved.
No other finds were discovered in the excavation below the wall foundations, in Rooms 104, 108, and in the backhoe-dug probe trenches; it seems that the building was constructed on natural ground.
This part of the city seems to have been inhabited in the eighteenth century CE, but not earlier. The absence of potsherds prior to this century indicates that the ancient city did not extend as far as this area.