Square 1 (Fig. 3). Excavation in the topsoil yielded a fragment of a St. Symeon-type bowl from the Crusader period, fragments of a glazed bowl and a cooking pot from the Mamluk period and a wedge used in a pottery kiln. A robber trench dug into the sand (L159) was exposed in the area beneath the topsoil. A soil accumulation east of the robber trench was excavated, revealing a fragment of a jug dating to the Early Islamic period. Fill mixed with iron slag that may originally have been debris from a furnace used to produce metal was found below the soil accumulation.
Square 2 (Fig. 3). Modern debris (L102), including a fragment of a Gaza-type vessel from the Ottoman period, was exposed at a great depth. The debris covered an accumulation of soil (L107) containing a fragment of a Mamluk-period cooking casserole. In the northeastern corner of the square was a soil accumulation mixed with modern refuse (L114) that included a jar fragment from the Mamluk period. A refuse pit (L154) revealed beneath Fill 114 contained a large quantity of animal bones and a fragment of a bowl from the Early Islamic period treated with a polychrome glaze. The glaze runs on the side of the vessel may be an indication that the bowl was waste from a pottery workshop.
Square 3 (Fig. 3). Remains of two round cesspits (L148, L149; diam. of each 1.2 m) dug down to the sand into the ancient layers were exposed in the center of the square. The pits were found full of black earth and contained pottery sherds dating to the Abbasid period, iron slags, animal bones, a few fragments of glass vessels and two bronze coins that were not identified. The cesspits may have been part of a modern building whose foundations were uncovered beneath the surface.
Fragments of a green-glazed bowl from the Abbasid period and a jug lid were discovered while excavating the topsoil in the square. A soil accumulation yielded an oil lamp fragment dating to the Early Islamic period beneath the surface level. Below and south of the soil accumulation were remains of a stone pavement (L137; Fig. 4), of which several large stone slabs were preserved. Another section of a stone pavement (L136), also made of large flat stones, was discovered next to the northeastern corner of the square. The two floor sections probably belong to the same stone pavement related to the building exposed in Square 4 (below). Fragments of pottery vessels ascribed to the Early Islamic period were discovered while dismantling Floor 137, including a flawed mold-made jug that was probably a waster discarded from a pottery workshop, an oil lamp and a green-glazed jug, and a mold used for stamping impressions on jugs. An accumulation of soil exposed south of Floor 137 yielded a fragment of a steatite bowl from the Early Islamic period, and soil below this accumulation included a fragment of a jug of the same time span.
Square 4 (Fig. 3). An oil lamp dating to the Early Islamic period was found in the topsoil. Below the surface were several layers of hamra with soil fill in between (Fig. 5); these hamra layers generally served as a foundation for plaster floors, probably not preserved. A layer of hamra (L112) that covered much of the square was exposed directly beneath the topsoil. Two tabuns (L117, L158) with truncated tops were uncovered in the southern part of the square, below Layer 112. A jug dating to the Early Islamic period was found in the fill that blocked Tabun 117. Around Tabun 158 was a soil accumulation with a large quantity of ash (L128) containing several fragments of pottery vessels from the Abbasid and Fatimid periods and burnt animal bones. A segment of a terra cotta pipe that had been placed diagonally outside and to the southwest of one of the walls of the tabun was revealed, abutting the wall of the installation. The northeastern wall of the tabun closest to the pipe was built of three courses of thin fired bricks (dimensions of some of the bricks 0.4 × 0.4 m; Fig. 6). Unlike the round outline of the tabun, this section of the wall was straight. Excavation inside Tabun 117 did not reveal an opening in its walls; hence, the purpose of the pipe sections next to the tabuns is unclear, though the angle in which they were positioned indicates they were not placed there randomly.
South of the tabuns was another layer of hamra (L138) that overlay a soil fill containing a fragment of a steatite bowl from the Early Islamic period. Below the fill was another layer of hamra (L144), abutting the southern side of the tabuns. Below the hamra in L144 were soil fills and below them, another hamra layer (L146), also abutting the tabuns. Soil fill (L157) was found below L146. The excavation in Fill 157 uncovered a copper coin from the Umayyad period (post-Reform) struck at the er-Ramla mint(?), dating to 710–720 CE (IAA 147254).
Remains of a pavement (L121) made of large stone slabs, some still bearing traces of plaster, were exposed north of the tabuns, abutting the upper third of the tabuns. The floor’s northern end terminated in an almost straight line, possibly due to a robber trench that was not exposed.
Square 5 (Fig. 7). A fragment of a zoomorphic vessel was found while excavating the topsoil (L115) and a robber trench (L145) was exposed in the southern part of the square beneath the topsoil. East of the robber trench was part of a refuse pit (L124) containing soil mixed with a large amount of industrial waste metal (Fig. 8) and crucibles, one of which still had remnants of bronze on it. A partially preserved mosaic floor (L155) was uncovered in the southwest of the square. Another refuse pit (L140) was revealed north of the mosaic floor, and sections of that mosaic were discovered in the bottom part of the pit. A zir jar dating to the Fatimid period was found in Pit 140. In a soil accumulation overlying the mosaic pavement were numerous fragments of pottery vessels from the Abbasid and Fatimid periods and animal bones. Soil fill (L135) containing a glazed bowl with a ledge rim, a cooking pot and a jar, dating to the Fatimid period, were discovered above the refuse pit. Above Fill 135 was another fill (L122), and in it was a crucible containing copper or bronze residue.
Square 6 (Fig. 7). Excavation of the topsoil (L111) yielded a glazed frypan dating to the Early Islamic period, a jar from the Fatimid period, a glazed bowl from the Mamluk period and iron slags. The soil fill (L147) beneath the topsoil included an oil lamp from the Early Islamic period and a glazed bowl with a ledge rim from the Crusader period. A refuse pit (L125) in this square contained a large quantity of metal debris and a crucible with iron remains in it, finds similar to those recovered from Refuse Pit 124 in Square 5. It is possible that there was one large refuse pit, located in Squares 5 and 6. A plaster floor (L134) was exposed south of Refuse Pit 125. In the northeastern part of the square was a small part of another plaster floor (L151), laid above Floor 134. The two floors could be observed in this section, preserved one on top of the other. A jar fragment dating to the Mamluk period was discovered in the excavation of Floor 151.
Square 7 (Fig. 7). Fragments of pottery vessels from the Early Islamic period and numerous animal bones were exposed in the excavation of the topsoil (L601, L607). Beneath the topsoil were remains of a meager wall (W616).
Square 8 (Fig. 7). A jar fragment from the Umayyad period, a pomegranate-like vessel and an oil lamp dating to the Early Islamic period were discovered in the topsoil (L602). A built trench (L620), severed at both ends, was exposed beneath the topsoil. In the southeastern corner of the square was an in situ deep ceramic basin encased by small bonded fieldstones that stabilized it in place (Fig. 9). Apparently, this basin was buried below a floor that did not survive.
Square 9 (Fig. 10). A layer of hamra (L609), apparently serving as a foundation of a floor that was not preserved, was exposed above the natural sand.
Square 10 (Fig. 10). Pottery sherds, including a jar from the Fatimid period and an industrial krater with paint marks on it dating to the Mamluk period, were found in the topsoil (L604). In the center of the square were remains of a wall (W622). On the sand next to the western balk of the square were meager remains of a stone wall; two plaster floors laid one on top of the other (L623, L624) abutted its southern side.
Square 11 (Fig. 10). The corner of a building or an installation (W617, W621; Fig. 11) constructed of large ashlars, some bearing the remains of gray plaster, was exposed in the southwestern corner of the square. The western wall (W621) protruded slightly from the square’s southern balk and only a small part of it was exposed. All that survived of the northern wall (W617) was the foundation and one large ashlar (0.4 × 0.5 × 0.9 m) from the upper courses. The foundation (width 1.1 m, height 0.3 m) was wider than the upper course and was built of well-bonded fieldstones set in a foundation trench dug in sand. An intact Early Islamic-period oil lamp and a Crusader-period cooking pot were unearthed north of the wall foundation (L614).
Square 12 (Figs. 10, 12). Fragments of a jar from the Umayyad period and an imported frit bowl from the Mamluk period were discovered in the excavation of the topsoil (L606). A channel exposed in the northern part of the square was built of stone slabs and contained a terra cotta pipe (L615). The channel ran north–south, beyond the limits of the excavation. An installation was built in a later phase above the southern end of the channel and extended west, outside the excavation square; only the corner of the channel was exposed, its purpose is unclear. The installation was constructed on soil fill that covered the channel. Three large stones of a wall (W618), perpendicular to the installation’s southern wall, were revealed west of the channel. Another wall abutted the northern end of W618 from the west; only one foundation course of that wall was preserved.
Pottery and Metal Artifacts
Pottery sherds, mostly dating to the Early Islamic period and some from the Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods, were found. Fragments of wasters, a mold and a wedge, used in the manufacture of pottery, were also unearthed, suggesting the presence of a pottery kiln located near the excavation area.
Early Islamic Period
. Numerous fragments of Early Islamic pottery vessels include a Fat
imid-period bowl with a short ledge rim treated with a yellow alkaline glaze applied over a white slip (Fig. 13:1); two bowls from the Abbasid period, one with a monochrome green glaze without an under slip (Fig. 13:2) and the other with a polychrome glaze that trickled to the bottom of the vessel, indicating that it was a waster from the pottery workshop (Fig. 13:3); a frypan glazed dark brown on the inside (Fig. 13:4) and a Fat
imid-period cooking pot with traces of a dark glaze on the thin edge of its rim (Fig. 13:5); Fat
imid-period jars (Fig. 13:6–8) that may have been manufactured in a workshop discovered in the north of Ramla (Torgë, Haddad and Toueg 2016)
; a zir
jar (Fig. 13:9) that dates from the beginning of the Abbasid period to the end of the Fat
imid period; two jars (Fig. 13:10, 11) dating to the Umayyad period that continue the pottery tradition from the Byzantine period; five jugs used from the Abbasid to the Fat
imid periods, including three mold-made examples decorated with floral and geometric patterns (Fig. 13:12–14), a deformed jug (Fig. 13:15) that may have been a waster from a pottery workshop, and a green-glazed jug without under slip (Fig. 13:16); a sphero-conical container (Fig. 13:17), similar to many others discovered in excavations throughout Ramla, which continued to be used in the Abbasid and Fat
imid periods; a jug lid made of light pink well-fired clay (Fig. 13:18); a fragment of a zoomorphic vessel dating to the Early Islamic period (Fig. 13:19); and almond-shaped lamps decorated mainly with geometric and floral patterns (Fig. 13:20–25) dating to the Abbasid and Fat
imid periods. The ceramic mold (Fig.13:26) used to make stamped impressions on jugs (e.g., Fig. 13:12–14) is an important find. Another such mold was discovered in a nearby excavation (Cytryn-Silverman 2010
: Fig. 9.12:6); these two molds, found in adjacent excavations, may indicate the existence of a nearby pottery workshop. Another find supporting this claim is a ceramic wedge, used in a pottery kiln (Fig. 13:27). It should be noted that wedges were discovered in many excavations throughout Ramla and not all were found in the context of a pottery workshop.
Beside the ceramic artifacts, two steatite vessels (Fig. 13:28, 29) used during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, and possibly even later.
Crusader Period. Fragments of three vessels were discovered, including a yellow- and green-glazed bowl with a long ledge rim (Fig. 14:1), a St. Symeon bowl imported from the Syrian coast (Fig. 14:2) and a thin-walled cooking pot with an upright rim and traces of glaze on its inside (Fig. 14:3).
Mamluk Period. Fragments of pottery vessels include two locally produced bowls, one treated with black and yellow lead glaze stripes (Fig. 14:4) and the other with an alkaline glaze and a brown sgraffito decoration (Fig. 14:5); two imported bowls, one a blue-and- black on white frit vessel decorated with a floral pattern (Fig. 14:6) and the other a Caledon-type imported from China (Fig. 14:7); an industrial krater with traces of blue dye inside it, probably used in the textile industry (Fig. 14:8); a burnished handmade casserole (Fig. 14:9); a handmade cooking pot with handles extending from its top (Fig. 14:10) and two jars made of brown clay fired an uneven hue (Figs. 14:11, 12).
Ottoman Period. A fragment of a Gaza jar made of dark clay (Fig. 14:13) was discovered.
Finds recovered in the excavation seem to indicate the nearby presence of two metal kilns; these include a crucible bearing iron residue (Fig. 15:1), two crucibles with copper or bronze residue (Fig. 15:2, 3), chunks of iron before melting (Fig. 15:4, 5) and iron slag—the waste produced after melting (Fig. 15:6–8).
A large assemblage of animal bones was found. The bones were analyzed using a rapid protocol (Albarella and Davis 1996); a full report on the findings is included in the excavation file. Most of the bones in the assemblage belong to sheep/goat (48%; N=132), mainly adult male sheep, cattle (28%; N=84) and camels (23%; 69 = N). Some of the bones in the assemblage are of horses and/or donkeys (2%; N=8), a dog (N=1) and a chicken (N=1). Saw marks were discerned on the long bones of cattle and camels (N = 17), indicating they were used in handicrafts, for example the manufacture of bone tools or parts of other items.
Meager architectural remains from the Abbasid and Fatimid periods were exposed. The finds include a very large quantity of animal bones, metal waste including crucibles, pottery kiln debris and a fragment of glass attached to a stone (see Appendix, Fig. 1:15) that probably originated from a glass workshop. Together, these seem to indicate there was a crafts area during the Early Islamic period that included a metal industry and possibly also pottery and glass workshops, located close to the excavation area. The large number of animal bones may suggest there were abattoirs in the area at this time.
Finds that indicate the area was used for industry were discovered in other excavations conducted in the vicinity. A chunk of glass kiln waste uncovered northwest of the current excavation suggest there was a glass kiln situated near residential buildings of the Abbasid and Fat
imid periods that were exposed (Segal 2011; Fig. 1: A-6029). Industrial waste metal (Gutfeld 1999: Fig. 1: B-123/1996) and industrial glass debris (Toueg 2011; Fig. 1: A-5938) from the Early Islamic period were discovered near the courthouse in Ramla. About 100 m southeast of the current excavation, a lump of raw glass was exposed that may be indicative of a glass industry (Zelinger 2007; Fig. 1: A-4595). Remains of a dwelling from the ninth–tenth centuries CE converted for use as a refuse pit after it was abandoned were discovered west of the current excavation. The pit contained debris from a metal furnace, pottery workshop debris and a large quantity of animal bones that the
excavator interpreted as slaughter-house waste
; Fig. 1: A-2013).
It therefore seems that during the Early Islamic period, a crowded industrial quarter existed, and that some of its industries were a source of pollution, such as the metal kilns. The proximity of this industrial area to the center of the city, near the White Mosque, is a phenomenon unknown in other ancient cities; because of pollution, industrial areas were generallyremote from the city centers. This industrial quarter extended between the White Mosque with its cisterns and the Pool of Arches, and it is possible that its location stemmed from the need for large amounts of water for various industries.