Square C3. Three sections of walls were discovered. The walls (W305–W307), built of stones whose outer surface was roughly worked, without mortar, were not connected. Wall 306, preserved a single course high, had a roughly worked eastern face and its western side was built of fieldstones. Therefore this was probably the foundation of a building whose floor was discovered in Square B3. Wall 305 was preserved two courses high for a distance of one meter. A burial inscription dating to the end of the tenth century CE was discovered on one of its stones, in secondary use; the name Abu al-Jallas may appear on it (Fig. 2). Several stones that may have formed a corner were preserved of Wall 307. Based on the elevation of the stones, it seems that this wall was later than Walls 305 and 306. The ceramic finds included a bowl (Fig. 3:1), a jar (Fig. 3:2), a jug (Fig. 3:3), a seal on a handle (Fig. 3:4), lamps (Fig. 3:5–9) and a small glass bottle (Fig. 3:10).
Square B3. A floor of tamped earth mixed with lime that covered most of the area in the square was discovered. A round, bell-shaped cistern (outer diam. 2.1 m, inner diam. 1.6 m), which became wider toward the bottom, was uncovered in the southern half of the square. The rim of the cistern was built of three circles of fieldstones bonded with gray mortar that contained a large amount of ash. The cistern’s ceiling (thickness 0.2 m) was designed as a flattened vault. The inside of the cistern was coated with a bottom layer of gray plaster, composed of lime, ash, quartz and dark temper and a top layer of tamped and smoothed white plaster (thickness c. 1 cm) that contained grog inclusions The cistern was excavated to a depth of 1.9 m, yet its bottom was not exposed. Two brownish red terracotta pipes (outer diam. 11 cm, inner diam. 8 cm; Fig. 4) conveyed water to the cistern. The pipes were connected to the cistern, c. 0.2 m below its ceiling. Set on a bedding of mortar (width c. 0.25 m), they were covered with two courses of fieldstones. The northern bedding was placed on top of the floor and the northwestern bedding was set on a layer of mortar (width 7–10 cm) that overlaid a layer of mud (thickness 3–4 cm). The floor, which rose up to the wall and adjoined the northern side of the cistern, suggests that the cistern and the floor were contemporary; however, it is more reasonable to assume that the cistern postdated the floor because the pipes that led to it would have interfered with movement around it. The cistern was intended to collect rainwater from the roofs of the nearby houses. This is attested to by the pipes that led directly to the cistern, without a settling pit, which was usually used for storing runoff. A handle bearing a stamped impression (Fig. 5:1) was discovered inside the cistern.
Square B2. A small section of a tamped-earth, mixed with grains of lime, floor was discovered in the northern part of the square. A bowl (Fig. 5:2), a zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 5:3), fragments of a jug (Fig. 5:4) and fragments of two jars that bore parts of inscriptions (Fig. 5:5, 6; see Amitai- Preiss below) were discovered on the floor. An in situ jar missing its neck and rim (Fig. 5:7) and a fragment of a vessel decorated with perforations (Fig. 5:8) were discovered in the middle of the southern balk.
Inscribed Pottery Fragments
Nitzan Amitai- Preiss
Two inscribed potsherds, engraved when the fragment was leather hard, were recovered from the excavation.
The first fragment (Fig. 5:5) contains three words, two are fragmented and the middle one is complete:
....ا هذه مد [
An unlikely reading in transliteration is:
[ban]a hadhihi mad[ina]
Translation: he built [this] city.
The builder of Ramla was Sulayman ben ‘Abd al Malik, while he was the governor of jund Filastin (the southern county of Palestine during the Early Islamic period). The city was founded between 712–715 CE. If this reading is correct, it is not clear what the purpose of such an inscription on a potsherd was. In any case, since it is so fragmentary, a better translation is not readily available. A somehow similar inscription on a potsherd was found in the Umayyad palace at Kasr al Khayr (Clermont-Ganneau Ch. 1900. Recueil d’archéologie Orientale, III. Paris. Taf. VII.A).
Another option for reading the above inscription is: …. Hadhihi muddi
Translation: '…. This measurement of wheat….. '
It could be part of an inscription that deals with the correct measurement of wheat, which was measured in the pot, when it was complete.
The second fragment (Fig. 5:6) has a single word that reads:
The meaning of this word is unknown. The root can be interpreted as drums or paying taxes, or banging the drums to announce the arrival of the tax collectors.
The nature and character of this inscription is unclear.
As a rule, not too many inscribed vessels have survived and the variety of inscriptions, at this stage of research, is poor. On other finds, i.e., coins, monumental inscriptions and certain oil lamps, such as are known from Jarash in Jordan, there are known and clear formulas, whereas on finds like ostraca or other lamps, research is far less advanced.
Thus, partial legends found on vessels of private production can not always be read with certainty, since the potter may have invented his own wording.