During November 2002 a development survey was conducted along the southern precincts of the city of Ramla, in an area that belongs to Moshav Mazliyah and Camp Oded, south of the Ramla–Bilu Junction road (Permit No. A-3784*; map ref. NIG 1869–84/6465–75; OIG 1369–84/1465–75), within the survey map of Rehovot (76) and in the wake of development work and the uprooting of an orchard in Moshav Mazliyah. The survey, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by O. Shmueli and T. Kanias (surveying and drafting), assisted by A. Glick (GPS) and M. Avissar (pottery reading).
Four sites, including a large site that dated to the Early Islamic period (Site 1), were recorded in the surveyed area (Fig. 1), whose northern part has a site that was excavated by N. Messika and Y. Paz (License No. B-153/1998).
Site 1 (map ref. NIG 18754/61469; OIG 13754/11469) is a ruin that extends across c. 150 dunams, at the top of a hamra hill and along its northern slope. The ruin is delimited in the south and east by a wadi channel escarpment. Architectural remains at the top of the hill are connected to the ancient settlement and include buildings, installations, a millstone from a flour mill and a cemetery. Pottery fragments, sporadically scattered across surface to the north of the ruin, were probably swept from the hilltop.
At the top of the ruin, near the entrance to Camp Oded, a circular installation (diam. 2.5 m, wall thickness 0.2 m; Fig. 2) whose wall is built of stone with bonding material was discerned. The inner wall of the installation is coated with a layer of plaster (1.5 cm thick) combined with potsherds. A wall (exposed length 0.75 m) built of fieldstones (0.2 × 0.3 m) abuts the installation to the north. Fragments of a clay bowl (FBW, Type 3), dating to the sixth century CE, were collected next to the installation.
A basalt millstone, not in situ, was found inside Camp Oded. The base of the stone is circluar (diam. 0.83 m) and the upper part––conical (height 0.6 m).
The southern part of the ruin was severely damaged by mechanical equipment. Numerous architectural remains, such as tops of walls, masonry stones scattered on surface, plaster remains, square marble slabs (0.3 × 0.3; 0.2 × 0.2 m), tesserae and a platitude of pottery fragments, were discerned in open trenches that remained in the area. Remains of a U-shaped installation (height at least 1.5 m; Fig. 3) were discovered in the eastern trench. Its western half was damaged by mechanical equipment and its floor and walls (0.3 m thick) were built of small stones with grayish white bonding material. A layer of plaster mixed with potsherds was applied to the sides of the installation, which seems to have been used for storing liquids. The accumulation of fill in the installation contained, in its upper part, fragments of an imported amphora dating to the Early Islamic period, whereas metal slag and fragments of glass were found lower down in the fill. On the bottom of the installation was a round metal object (diam. 7 cm) with a hole in its center, perhaps part of cymbals that were discarded inside.
Three white plaster floors were exposed c. 0.5 m below surface; overlying the upper two were layers of gray ash. Farther along the eastern trench, to the south of the installation, were the remains of another installation that had a circular cross-section and was built of fired mud bricks plastered on the interior.
Masonry stones and bones were scattered in a cemetery that was exposed on the southern fringes of the site. A marble object (height 0.57 m), probably a gravestone, was discovered next to the cemetery. Its base is circular (diam. 0.22 m) and its broken top is conical (diam. 0.13 m; Fig.4).
Remains of a smaller settlement, dating to the Ottoman period and the British Mandate era, were exposed in the western part of the site. Fragments of pottery vessels from these periods were discovered in the area west of the access road to Moshav Mazliyah.
The pottery assemblage from Site 1 is mostly dated to the Early Islamic period (seventh–tenth centuries CE). The settlement, built on a hill overlooking Ramla, c. 350 m from its southern fringes, was probably associated with the historic city, which served as the capital of Filastin district during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods.
Site 2 (map ref. NIG 18819/64716; OIG 13819/14716). A scattering of potsherds, fragments of basalt vessels, masonry stones and bones was documented on a moderate slope of a hamra hill. The broken lid of a limestone sarcophagus (0.7 × 1.5 m, thickness 0.1 m) was discerned on surface. The base of the lid is flat, while its upper part is slanted. A boss that protruded from one of the lid’s corners was preserved. The site probably continues farther east, beyond the limits of the survey. The ceramic finds were ascribed to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Site 3 (map ref. NIG 18819/64664; OIG 13819/14664). Potsherds, dating to the Ottoman period, as well as tesserae and fragments of marble were scattered along the surface of a hamra hill.
Site 4 (map ref. NIG 18804/64686; OIG 13804/14686). Fieldstones (0.5 × 0.5 m) that may be the remains of a building were scattered in the area.