In January 2019, a salvage excavation was carried out along Shalom Aleichem Street in Ramla (Permit No. A-8421; map. ref. 187333–59/649161–81; Fig. 1) after antiquities were damaged prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by D. Masarwa, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. Peretz (photography), M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), S. Krispin (metal detection), Y. Tepper (scientific guidance), H. Torgë (pottery), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), N. Katznelson (glass), A. Varnai-Ganor (glass restoration), C. Hersch (glass drawing), R. Kool (numismatics) and A. Dagot (location map).
Ramla was founded in the early eighth century CE by the governor of the district of Palestine, Sulayman ibn Abdel Malik of the Umayyad dynasty, who later received the title of caliph. In many excavations over recent years in Ramla, remains have been found of an extensive and prosperous settlement from the Early Islamic period, which continued in existence until the Ottoman period (for excavations in the vicinity of the current excavation, see Shlomi 2008; Korin 2009; Masarwa 2011; Eshed 2014; Toueg 2015; for the location of these excavations, see Fig. 1).
Two excavation squares were opened (D2, D3) revealing a channel and construction remains from the Abbasid period (eighth–ninth centuries CE; Figs. 2, 3).
A water channel (L102; exposed length c. 4.5 m, width c. 0.15 m), running in a general east–west direction, was revealed in the western part of the excavation area. It was built of small fieldstones and coated with gray plaster. The channel, which continued beyond the excavation area, seems to have served for either irrigation or sewage. Parts of a floor bedding comprising small fieldstones and gray mortar abutted the channel on the north and south (L105, L108). Two bronze coins were found on Bedding 105: a Byzanto-Arab follis (645–670 CE; IAA 165370) and an Abbasid follis minted in Ramla (805–806 CE; IAA 165371). pottery sherds the Abbasid period were discovered on the beddings and in the soil fill above the channel (L100).
North of the channel was a wall segment (W106; Fig. 4) built of small fieldstones bonded with gray mortar; it may have been part of an installation. The wall was cut by a modern cesspit (L103; 0.4 × 0.7 m; see Fig. 4), which was lined with small and medium-sized fieldstones bonded with gray mortar.
A round refuse pit (L104; diam. 0.7 m, depth 0.6 m) was dug into brown soil in the eastern part of the excavation area. Pottery sherds, including Abbasid-period oil lamps, and a few fragments of glass vessels from the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (Katznelson, below) were found in the pit.
The pottery finds from the excavation were dated to the Abbasid period. These included a krater (Fig. 5:1), a glazed bowl (Fig. 5:2), a body fragment of a barbotine jug (Fig. 5:3), a juglet (Fig. 5:4), a pomegranate-shaped vessel (Fig. 5:5), a flask (Fig. 5:6) and oil lamps (Fig. 5:7–9).
The Glass Finds
The excavation yielded very few glass fragments, all dated to the Abbasid–Fatimid periods. The fragments include an almost complete miniature bottle (Fig. 6:1) and a small lower part of a decorated vessel (Fig. 6:2). Also found was a small rim and neck fragment (not drawn), which is colorless, with pitting and silver iridescent weathering—possibly belonging to a bottle of unclear shape, a rounded rim and a cylindrical neck.
Bottle No. 1 has a tubular, unevenly squatted body with a thick, flattened base, which is oval in shape. The bottle’s rim and the upper part of the neck are missing; the bottom of the base is broken, where the pontil may have been attached. Vertical tooling marks visible on the vessel’s body indicate that it was probably drawn after inflating, resulting in its irregular shape. Similar small cylindrical bottles with a rounded rim and a short neck are well known in Abbasid–Fatimid contexts all around Israel, including Ramla (Gorin-Rosen 2010:231, Pl. 10.5:3, see discussion and further references therein).
The complete shape of Vessel No. 2 is unclear. Its base is pushed-in and pinched with an interior loop above a disk-shaped ring. Bases of such form are rare in Israel, appearing at Bet She’an in Abbasid–Fatimid levels (Hadad 2005: Pl. 38:797–800). Similar loop-shaped bases ascribed to globular bowls or bottles were found in the shipwreck at Serçhe Limani from the early eleventh century CE. However, no parallels for a complete vessel profile have been suggested (Lledó and Matthews 2009:430, Fig. 41-6, BA 772, 779, 791, 800, Type VII). Thus, our fragment, which bears small remains of a circular protruding design on its lower wall, is of special interest; the design could have been molded or impressed. Vessels with comparable motifs of impressed prunts include small globular bowls and bottles in the Kuwait Museum, which are described as either Egyptian or Syrian products of the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Carboni 2001:284–287, Cat. Nos. 3.52 a–d, 3.53 a, 3.55 e, f). A few parallels from excavations in Israel include a small Abbasid-period bottle from Khirbat ‘Adasa (Gorin-Rosen 2008: Fig. 3:5, see a reference therein for Bet She’an).
The excavation revealed settlement remains from the Abbasid period (eighth–ninth centuries). The coin from the mid-seventh century CE, along with the glass vessels from the Abbasid–Fatimid periods, attest to additional periods during which the site was inhabited.
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