In November 2015, a salvage excavation was conducted in a lot on David Marcus Street, Ramla (Permit No. A-7556; map ref. 188010-23/648622-39; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a residential building. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Mr. Nawaf Abu Sa‘id, was directed by R. Toueg (photography), with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. Dagot (GPS), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), I. Razinsky (metallurgical laboratory), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), A. Gyrman-Levanon (stone treatment), C. Amit (studio photography) and A. Karasik (digital photography). Digging of trial trenches at the site prior to the excavation was supervised by D. Shahar.
Western Square. Remains of a plaster floor (L111; Fig. 3) were uncovered above a fragment of a zir jar dating to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (Fig. 4:3). The floor abutted the base of a marble column (Fig. 5), set on an ashlar stylobate. After Floor 111 ceased use, it was covered with a fill composed of small fieldstones and soil on which a new plaster floor (L110) was installed. Excavation of the fill below Floor 110 revealed a krater fragment (Fig. 4:1) from the Early Islamic period (seventh–eleventh centuries CE). After Floor 110 was no longer in use, a soil fill (L108) was deposited upon it. Excavation of this floor revealed fragments of red molded plaster that apparently covered the walls of the building that once stood there, and a fragment of a glass vessel dating to the Umayyad period.
In the southwestern corner of the square were remains of two walls that met (W113, W114; Fig. 6), built of two rows of roughly dressed stones and a core of small fieldstones. Walls 113 and 114 were preserved to a height of three courses and two courses respectively. In the eastern part of the square, stones from Wall 113 were robbed; the wall continued to the west, beyond the limits of the excavation area. Wall 113 severed Plaster Floor 110, thus postdating it. Most of W114 was situated outside the excavation area. A plaster floor (L102), only a small part of which was preserved, abutted Wall 113 from the north. Floor 102 was a thin layer of white plaster set on a bedding of small fieldstones and gray soil. A bronze coin, which could not be identified, was discovered in Floor 102.
Eastern Square. Five construction phases (1–5) were exposed, including a wall (W115) and sections of five plaster floors, one above the other and separated by soil fill (L104, L105, L107, L109, L112; see Fig. 2: Section 1–1). Wall 115, which protruded from the southern section of the square, and Plaster Floor 112 that abutted it from the north (Fig. 7), are ascribed to the earliest phase (5). Wall 115 was built of coarsely dressed stones and survived to a height of three courses. Floor 112 was set on a bedding of small, carefully arranged fieldstones, covered with fine-quality pink plaster (thickness c. 5 cm). An overturned Corinthian capital found on Floor 112 apparently served as the base of a column, which was not preserved (Fig. 8). In Phase 4, Floor 112 was covered with tamped hamra on which a brown-soil fill (thickness c. 0.3 m) was placed. Plaster Floor 109 was built on top of the fill and abutted the northern upper course of what was preserved of W115. Excavation of the fill beneath Floor 109 revealed Abbasid-period glassware, including a plate with a broad, flaring rim such as those recovered from other excavations in Ramla (Winter 2013, Fig. 38:1–3) and similar to vessels retrieved from the Serçe Limani shipwreck, which sank off the Turkish coast. Pottery vessels were also exposed, the latest dating to the Fatimid period. Plaster Floors 107, 105 and 104, of poor quality, are ascribed to Phases 3–1 respectively. Glass-vessel fragments were discovered in the soil fill (L106) below Floor 105, the latest of these dating to the Fatimid period and included fragments of a bottle with a carelessly fashioned thickened rim and a thickened base of a bottle. The soil fill below Floor 104 yielded a rim of a plain glass bowl dating to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods. Based on the finds, the five construction phases in the square should be dated to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods. A fieldstone-built foundation (L103) of a floor that was not preserved was exposed close to the surface level.
On the surface in both squares (L100, L101) were Ottoman-period Marseilles roof tiles and fragments of pottery vessels, including a frying pan (Fig. 4:2) and two jars (Fig. 4:4, 5) from the Fatimid period and a jug (Fig. 4:6) dating to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods. Small fragments of molded plaster bearing traces of red paint were discovered on the surface in several places in the squares.
Remains of a building from the Abbasid and Fatimid periods were exposed in the excavation. These included fragments of red-painted molded plaster, a marble column base and a Corinthian capital, leading to the conclusion that this was probably a villa. The Corinthian capital joins two additional capitals discovered on David Marcus Street—one during an antiquities inspection of development work c. 80 from the current excavation and the other in an excavation c. 100 m west of the excavation area. It is conceivable that these Corinthian capitals were robbed from buildings in Lod. It therefore seems that some of the houses in this part of Ramla were inhabited by an affluent population (Toueg 2007). The origin of the marble column base that was discovered in the excavation is unknown, but unlike the capitals, it is possible that it was produced by the marble industry that existed in Ramla during the Abbasid and Fatimid periods, as mentioned by Nasir Khusraw (Tal 2014:83).
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