Square 1. A section of a floor (L19; 0.1 × 0.1 m), composed of gray bonding material, was exposed in the southern balk of the square (Fig. 2). Several small fieldstones (L10) that probably belonged to the floor bedding were found about half a meter to the west. Below the floor was an occupation level (L20) that included the remains of another floor and a burnt area. East of this floor was a section of a wall (W18), founded on a layer of sand. The wall, which extended to the northern side of the square, was built of fieldstones (0.10 × 0.15 m, height 0.5 m). An Arab-Byzantine coin (IAA 75805) that dated to the middle of the seventh century was recovered from this layer (L14).
Square 2. A floor of gray bonding material (L16; 0.6 × 1.0 m) was exposed and below it was a thin layer of tamped chalk (L17) that may also have been used as a floor. Below the chalk layer was a fill (L15) that contained a wide variety of potsherds, stone and metal artifacts, few pieces of textile (see below) and a steatite artifact (Fig. 3), all of which dated to the Early Islamic period—the ninth and tenth centuries CE.
The Pottery
Miriam Avissar
Square 1. The small assemblage of typical Early Islamic pottery in this square consisted of glazed bowls, plain unglazed bowls, bowls of Fine Byzantine Ware, basins, small kraters, cooking bowls, storage jars, jugs, flasks, bottles and Antiliya jars.
Most of the glazed bowls (Fig. 4:1, 2, 4, 5) could be identified by their fabric as Common Glazed Ware (Avissar M. 1996. The Medieval Pottery. In A. Ben-Tor, M. Avissar and Y. Portugali. Yoqne‘am I: The Late Periods [Qedem Reports 3]. Jerusalem. Pp. 75–78). The small bowl with scalloped rim (Fig. 4:2) is an uncommon form in this ware. The bowl in Fig. 4:3 could be identified as the imported Coptic Glazed Ware. The unglazed bowls (Fig. 4:6–9) are of known forms in the Ramla district and probably of local production. The many bowls of the so-called Fine Byzantine Ware (Fig. 4:10–16) were mostly decorated with red, black and white painted patterns. The main forms belong to Magness’ forms 1D, 1E, 2A and 2B, all dating from the late seventh–early eighth centuries to the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Magness J. 1993. Jerusalem Ceramic Chronology, circa 200-800 CE. Sheffield. Pp. 193–201). The large basin with combed decoration (Fig. 4:17) is a well-known and long-lived form already in Late Byzantine assemblages. It continued nearly unchanged until the tenth century CE, if not later. The small kraters (Fig. 4:18–20) are a typical form in ceramic assemblages from Ramla and its vicinity. The sole cooking vessels in this assemblage are the cooking bowls (Fig. 3:21), which is another long-lived form. These large thin-walled pots with handles placed well below the rim are typical of the Early Islamic period. Storage jars with plain necks (Fig. 5:1, 2) are common during the Early Islamic period (Avissar 1996:147–149, Storage Jar Types 4 and 5). Jugs made of buff clay (Fig. 5:3, 4) are the hallmark of the Early Islamic period. Jugs with plain neck, as well as the molded jugs, are a product of the Ramla workshops. The flask with a ridged cup-like neck (Fig. 5:5) can be found in post-Umayyad assemblages. Small grenade-shaped bottles (Fig. 5:6, 7) are common and used for storing various liquids. The very popular Antiliya vessels (Fig. 5:8) were used for drawing water from the small cisterns that abound in Ramla.
The modest assemblage from Square 1 seems to be rather restricted chronologically, since fine glazed wares and glazed cooking wares are still absent. Some of the vessel types, such as the Fine Byzantine Ware, may appear during the first half of the eighth century CE, while the glazed ware and most of the buff ware vessels begin to appear only during the second half of the eighth century CE. A time span from about the middle of the eighth century CE or slightly earlier to the middle of the ninth century CE at the latest, seems to be adequate for this assemblage.
Square 2. The assemblage from this square seems to be slightly later, as it contained forms that were not found in Square 1. Besides common glazed bowls (Fig. 6:1–3), it also yielded fine glazed bowls (Fig. 6:4, 5; see Avissar 1996:78–82), a luster-ware bowl (Fig. 6:6; see Philon H. 1980. Benaki Museum Athens, Early Islamic Ceramics, Ninth to late Twelfth Centuries. London.
Pp. 163–181, No. 454), imported Chinese celadon (Fig. 6:7, 8; see Medley M. 1989. The Chinese Potter. A Practical History of Chinese Ceramics [Third edition]. Oxford. Pp. 115–118), as well as local Fatimid glaze ware (Fig. 6:9; see Avissar 1996:87–90), all datable to the tenth and eleventh centuries CE. The plain, unglazed bowls of buff clay (Fig. 6:10–12) are a common product of the Ramla workshops. Fine Byzantine Ware bowls(Fig. 6:13, 14)were less popular in this square. Glazed cooking ware, such as the glazed frying pan (Fig. 6:15) only appeared toward the end of the ninth century CE. The storage jar with plain rim and combed shoulder (Fig. 6:16) seems to be a local product of the Ramla area, while the storage jar with heavy ridged rim (Fig. 6:17) seems to originate from Jerusalem or its vicinity (Magness 1993:230–231, Storage Jars Form 7). The buff-ware jugs (Fig. 6:18, 19) occur from the second half of the eighth until the end of the eleventh centuries CE; triple-strand handles with an elaborate thumb-rest seem to be a rather late fashion. So are the table jars with cut decoration (Fig. 6:20). The buff potsherds with impressed and gouged decoration (Fig. 6:21), or with incised and pin-pricked design (Fig. 6:22) appear to be residual. Vessels with such decoration were already extinct in the Fatimid period. The fragmentary head of a zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 7) represents a class that is known as early as the Umayyad period, yet it is unclear until when these vessels were in use.
The small assemblage from Square 2 seems to date mainly to the tenth–eleventh centuries CE, whereas some of the vessels are probably residual.
A Textile Fragment
Orit Shamir
A few pieces of the same textile that adhered to a bronze artifact were found at the site, which is dated by the excavator to the ninth–tenth centuries CE. The pieces (biggest 4.5 × 4.5 cm; Fig. 8) were preserved due to the bronze’s corrosion.
A plain weave technique was employed for the linen warp and the cotton weft, both having a density of 19 threads per cm. The warp is S-spun medium and its threads are thinner than those of the Z-spun (clockwise) weft. The threads were probably undyed, although due to the bronze corrosion, they were colored light green.
This textile is unique to the site and only a few such textileswere discovered in the country, e.g., at Qarantal Cave 38(A. Baginski and O. Shamir. 2001. The Textiles, Basketry and cordage from Qarantal – Cave 38: the First Medieval Assemblage Discovered in Palestine. Archaeological Textiles newsletter 32, 2001, pp. 19–21). The use of cotton and linen in the textile produced both soft and strong weavings. The linen fibers were longer, stronger and smoother than the cotton ones, hence their use for the weft. Linen and cotton were both available to the local weavers, yet the cessation of cultivating linen in Palestine prompted the weavers to use cotton to a greater extant, although linen was still appreciatedby the weavers and their customers.
The traditional weaving direction in Israel, from the Neolithic period to Medieval times, was S-spun (anti-clockwise), unlike cotton from India, South Arabia, Iran and Iraq that was generally Z-spun (Mackie L.W. 1989. Textiles. In W. Kubiak and G.T. Scanlon. Fustat Expedition Final Reports 2, Fustat C. Winona Lake. Pp. 88–89).