During February 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted on 50 Herzl Street in Ramla (Permit No. A-4728; map ref. NIG 187585/649070; OIG 137585/149070), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Edry Brothers Company, was directed by O. Sion, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), E. Belashov (drafting), C. Amit (studio photography) R. Vinitsky (metallurgical laboratory), I. Lidski-Resnikov (pottery drawing) and S. Gat, W. Atrash and M. Sharon (Arabic epigraphy).
The excavation area lies c. 600 m north of the White Mosque and 100–150 m north of former excavations, which exposed portions of buildings and floors that dated to the Early Islamic period (HA-ESI
111:103*–104; HA-ESI 118
; HA-ESI 120
Three squares were opened (Figs. 1, 2), revealing numerous ceramic and metal artifacts that dated to the Early Islamic period (eighth–tenth centuries CE), without any architectural remains.
Modern refuse, the remains of a Mandatory-era building (W1, W2) and the surface layer were removed by mechanical equipment (to a depth of 1 m). Underneath were alternating layers of sand and small stones. The upper layers in Squares 1 and 2 were horizontal; the lower layers in Square 1 sloped to the east (L53; Fig. 2: Section 2–2) and in Square 2 they were horizontal (L55).
The wide variety of pottery vessel fragments, which dated to the Early Islamic period (eighth–tenth centuries CE), included bowls (Fig. 3:1–6), small bowls (Fig 3:7, 8), cooking vessels (Fig. 3:9, 10), jars (Fig. 3:11–13), jugs (Fig. 4:1, 2), a juglet (Fig. 4:3), flasks (Fig. 4:4, 5), ceramic bars used in a kiln (Fig. 4:6–10), jar lids (Fig. 4:11, 12) and lamps (Fig. 4:13, 14).
Part of an inscription written in black ink was found on the interior upper part of one of the bowls (Fig. 3:6). The first two words are “Allah the merciful” (" اللهالرحمن"), followed by three letters of the third word ("الر..."). The reconstructed inscription reads “In the name of Allah the merciful and compassionate” (بسماللهالرحمنالرحيم).
Other artifacts included three square bronze weights (1.38 grams—Fig. 5:1; 5.68 grams— Fig. 5:2; 5.76 grams—Fig. 5:3), a fragment of a bronze cylinder (0.7 × 1.2 cm; Fig. 5:4), a hollow bronze cone (0.2 × 3.0 cm; Fig. 5:5) and two unidentified coins.
The absence of any architectural remains may stem from the fact that this was an open area within the city or from the robbing of building stones, although the latter was not corroborated by robber trenches. The layers of sand and small stones could reflect water-borne sediments as described in al-Muqaddasi’s account of the city’s drainage system that turned Ramla into “an island of mud” (A. Schiler, 1988, Eretz Israel and its Sites in Descriptions of Moslem Pilgrims, Ariel 59:63 [Hebrew]).