During August 2003, a trial excavation was conducted in the Ramla military cemetery (Permit No. A-3973; map ref. NIG 188564–790/198680–90; OIG 138564–790/148680–90), prior to expansion work. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by H. Torge, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), T. Sagiv (field photography), Y. Arbel (backhoe inspections), M. Avissar (pottery reading) and M. Shuiskaya (drawing of finds).
Excavations in the vicinity of the site, which is located west of the White Mosque and east of and adjacent to Weitzmann Street, had been conducted in the past (‘Atiqot
109:65*–66*; HA-ESI 120
; HA-ESI 120
; Permit No. A-3459).
Two adjacent squares were excavated and three settlement phases that consisted of plaster floors and robber trenches were discovered (Fig. 1).
Phase 3. Remains of walls (W1, W2), robber trenches and plaster floors (Loci 105–107; average elevation 79.64 m) were exposed. Most of the walls were dismantled and robbed in later periods and the shape of a building can only be discerned by the outline of the remaining trenches. Fragments of pottery vessels, mostly from the Abbasid period, were found, including bowls (Fig. 2:1, 2, 4, 5), jars (Fig. 2:13, 14, 16), jugs (Fig. 3:3, 6) and a flask (Fig. 3:11). Below this phase were levels of tamped soil (Loci 108, 109, 113), which were used as floor beddings and also dated to the Abbasid period. The ceramics in these levels included bowls (Fig. 2:3, 6–10), jars (Fig. 2:15, 17), jugs (Fig. 3:4, 7, 8), a flask (Fig. 3:9) and a lid (Fig. 3:12). The transition from Phase 3 to the layer of natural sand (L112) included part of a pale white, buff jug (Fig. 3:2) and a flask (Fig. 3:10).
Phase 2 was a meager habitation level that consisted of chalk floors mixed with tamped earth (Loci 103, 104; average elevation 79.87 m). Wall 2 from Phase 3 was negated and the tops of the stones were used as pavement. A septic pit whose borders were indistinct (L110) was found. This phase was also dated to the Abbasid period and it contained pottery fragments that included bowls (Fig. 2:11, 12) and jugs (Fig. 3:1, 5).
Phase 1. Part of a residential building (elevation 80.44–80.54 m) whose walls were robbed was exposed. However, it was possible to trace the foundations and the robber trenches of the walls (RT10–RT12). Plaster floors (Loci 101, 102) were exposed between the walls. The eastern half of a tabun foundation (L101A) was discovered on top of Floor 101.
The limited scope of the excavation and the robbery of the stones made it impossible to determine the plan of the remains; yet, the variety of vessels that dated to the Abbasid period seems to suggest that this was a short-lived residential area.