During January–February 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted in the eastern precinct of Ramla, next to the Newe Tirza prison (Permit No. A-4700; map ref. NIG 18847–51/64887–90; OIG 13847–51/14887–90), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the S.A.L. Ramla Company, was directed by O. Sion, with the assistance of V. Essman (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), E. Belashov (drafting), C. Amit (studio photography), R. Vinitsky (metallurgical laboratory), N. Katsnelson (glass), I. Lidski-Reznikov (pottery and glass drawing) and A. Berman (numismatics).
The excavation area is located east of and adjacent to Highway 44, c. 950 m east of the White Mosque. A number of excavations had been conducted in the vicinity (ESI
19:52*–53*; HA-ESI 119
; Permit No. A-3080).
Three squares were opened (Fig. 1), revealing building remains and artifacts from the Early Islamic period (eighth–tenth centuries CE). The remains probably belonged to a residential building that was situated outside the city walls of ancient Ramla.
Square 1. Two parallel walls, preserved a single course high (W3, W6; height 0.15–0.34 m; Figs. 2, 3), were exposed in the southwest corner of the square. Another wall (W5) that had survived by a few stones was uncovered between them. A carefully leveled floor (Loci 54, 60) of kurkar and crushed chalk abutted the walls.
Square 2. Only fragments of pottery vessels and small artifacts, without any architectural remains, were found.
Square 3. Several walls of a room (W1, W2, W4; Figs. 4, 5) that were built of two rows of partly dressed limestone and a core of small stones were exposed. A tamped chalk floor (L53) abutted either side of the walls. In the eastern part of the square, a jar that contained six olive pits (L56; Figs. 6, 7) was embedded in the floor. Another wall (W3) built of limestone and bonded with mortar, whose function was not ascertained, was exposed in the northeastern part of the square.
The ceramic finds, which dated to the Early Islamic period (eighth–tenth centuries CE), included bowls (Fig. 8:1–11), a small bowl (Fig. 8:12), a jar with a pinched rim and a striped decoration that is incised along the upper part of the vessel (Fig. 9:1), jugs (Fig. 9:2–4), a juglet (Fig. 9:5), a handle that bears a round stamped impression with a pattern similar to a Star of David and a circle in its center (Fig. 9:6), four fragments of ceramic bars that were used to separate between vessels in a potter’s kiln (Fig. 9:7–10) and a fragment of a zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 9:11).
A few glass fragments that dated to the Abbasid period (end of the eighth century–tenth century CE) were found mostly in Square 3. These included two shallow cylindrical bowls, several bottles, including the upper part of a bottle with a funnel and a low conical neck, as well as a fragment of a goblet that was discovered in Square 1 (Fig. 9:12).
The bronze artifacts included a rectangular weight (5.26 g; Fig. 10:1), two decorated hinges (1.8 × 2.6 cm, Fig. 10:2; 1.8 × 4.1 cm, Fig. 10:3) and a round disk perforated in its center (diam. 3 cm, Fig. 10:4).
Two coins were discovered; one was identified as a dirham from the time of the Abbasid caliph Haron al-Wathiq Ballah (227–232 AH, 842–847 CE; IAA 109734), most likely from the Mişr mint.