During May–June 2005, a trial excavation was conducted in the western part of the Bene Beraq site, el-Waqf, located within the precincts of the adjutancy military base in Ramat Gan (Permit No. A-4489; map ref. NIG 18335–6/66586–8; OIG 13335–6/16586–8), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by D. Golan, with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov-Jam and E. Bachar (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), P. Gendelman (pottery reading), R. Gat (pottery restoration), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), D.T. Ariel (numismatics) and E. Yannai, L. Rauchberger, D. Barkan and M. Ajami (consultation).
The site, situated on the third kurkar ridge, is named after the Ottoman cemetery that was owned by the waqf. Previous excavations at the site exposed remains dating from the Late Bronze Age until the Early Islamic period (Yediot 16:22 [Hebrew]; HA-ESI 109:96*; 111:37*–38*).
The excavation (c. 10 × 10 m), which was opened along the eastern slope of the kurkar ridge, exposed remains of buildings and installations that were ascribed to four strata (Fig. 1), dating to the twentieth century CE (Stratum I); the Abbasid period (Stratum II); the latter part of the Byzantine and the Umayyad periods (Stratum III); and the Byzantine period (Stratum IV). A few fragments of earlier pottery vessels, found on the surface and in mixed assemblages, were mostly dated to the Hellenistic period. Among these was a local imitation of a mold-made bowl (Fig. 2:1), which together with a Seleucid coin (IAA No. 102227) found on the surface, indicate the existence of earlier remains in the vicinity.
Stratum I. A wall (W103) of a modern building was exposed.
Stratum II. Three rooms of a building (1) were revealed in the northwestern part of the excavation area. The walls (W110, W120, W121, W145, W146), preserved three courses high (c. 0.5 m), were built of kurkar stones, including fieldstones and several ashlar stones in-between (Fig. 3). Collapse that consisted of kurkar fieldstones (Loci 149, 150) was found next to Walls 110 and 145. The ceramic finds from the rooms and from other loci of this stratum were ascribed to the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE) and included glazed bowls (Fig. 2:15, 16), bowls with a kerbschnitt decoration (Fig. 2:17, 18), bowls with black-burnished decorations (Fig. 2:19), jars (Fig. 2:20–22) and a handle with a plastic decoration (Fig. 2:23). Several fragments of pottery vessels from this period were also found in the layer of soil beneath the modern wall (W103).
The top of an earlier wall (W147) was exposed below the floor of the building’s northeastern room (L116). However, the stratigraphic ascription of W147 was not ascertained because W121 was built on its southeastern continuation and severed it. An olive press weight (L129; 0.34 × 0.60 m; Fig. 4) was found farther along the line of W147, to its southeast, possibly suggesting that W147 was part of an oil press. This find indicates that an industrial zone existed in the area prior to the Abbasid period.
Stratum III. Sections of two buildings were ascribed to this stratum. The first (2) was exposed in the southeastern part of the area; its walls (W113, W140, W141; width 0.5 m, height c. 0.3 m) survived two courses high. Walls 140 and 141 were built of small kurkar fieldstones, whereas W113 was constructed from kurkar stones, including ashlars incorporated together with small fieldstones. Stone collapse that probably derived from the wall was exposed in a trench (L136), opened alongside it. These walls were abutted by a floor of small stones (L131; Fig. 5) on which a coin from the Umayyad period (IAA No. 102229) was found. A similar floor (L148) abutted Walls 113 and 140 from the north. It seems that W113 and the rest of Building 2 continued northward and possibly southward as well, beyond the limits of the excavation area.
A tabun (L130; diam. c. 0.8 m) lined with small fieldstones, which was partly damaged by a modern trench, was exposed to the west of W113. The potsherds recovered from the tabun dated to the end of the Byzantine and the Umayyad periods. Two floors abutted the tabun; the first was a tamped-earth floor with very small stones (L108), which also abutted W113, and the second was a floor of small stones (L144) that abutted the tabun from the west.
Two walls of the second building (3; W122, W123), built of small fieldstones and preserved three courses high (0.5 m), were exposed in the southwest of the area. An Umayyad coin (IAA No. 102228) and numerous animal bones were found on the stone floor in the space delimited by these walls (L138).
The fragments of pottery vessels found on the floors and in the fill above them, in Trench 136 alongside W113 and in Tabun 130 included mostly bowls (Fig. 2:8–11) and cooking pots (Fig. 2:12–14) that dated to the end of the Byzantine and the Umayyad periods (sixth–eighth centuries CE).