During November–December 2003, a salvage excavation was conducted in a private lot on Smolenskin Street in Ramla (Permit No. A- 4019*; map ref. NIG 187634/648923; OIG 137634/148923). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by V. Shlomi, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
The excavation (25 sq m) was conducted several hundred meters west of the Pool of the Arches and near a previous excavation in the area (HA-ESI 111:104*). Remains from the Early Islamic period were exposed (Fig. 1).
The upper layer that contained both ancient and later material was removed by means of mechanical equipment. A wall (W2) was discovered at the base of the layer. Three ashlar stones (0.35 × 0.45 m) were preserved along its southern face, which was abutted on the north by a broad foundation of small fieldstones and bonding material.
To the west of W2 was another wall (W1; length 4.3 m, width 0.3 m) at a lower level. It was built of different-sized fieldstones and preserved three courses high (height 0.5 m). Its southern end was damaged by later collapse. A channel to the west of W1 contained pale yellow soil and probably served as a foundation of a wall. The channel was dug into an occupation level (L110) that contained fragments of pottery vessels and animal bones within light colored soil mixed with lumps of chalk and plaster. A rectangular installation (L104; 0.6 × 1.9 m), divided into two cells and built of small fieldstones, was embedded into this level.
A pit (L107) lined with medium-sized fieldstones was discovered west of W2 and east of W1. The pit was dug into an earlier layer that contained levels of hamra, sand and chalky sediment (thickness 0.5 m) and extended above the natural sand level. It seems that the pit postdated W1, based on its shape that clearly related to the line of the wall. With the exception of W2, the building remains demonstrate simple, temporary fieldstone construction.
The pottery vessels recovered from the excavation included a variety of types characteristic of the indigenous material culture in the Early Islamic period (ninth–tenth centuries CE), namely bowls, some of which were painted and glazed (Fig. 2:1–9, 11), kraters (Fig. 2:10, 12), jars (Fig. 2:13–15), jugs (Fig. 2:16, 17), a cup (Fig. 2:18) and a lamp (Fig. 2:19).