In July 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted on 23 Fleming Street, Ramla (Permit No. A-7308; map ref. 187683-713/648059-85; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a building. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Al FursanArchitects, was directed by D. Masarwa, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. ‘Azab and A. Shadman (assistance and consultation), M. Cohen (surveying and drafting), C. Ben-Ari (GPS), H. Torgë (pottery reading) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
Ramla was founded as the capital of Jund Filastin in 716 CE by Sulayman bin ‘Abd al-Malik (Umayyad dynasty). The city was an important economic center in Israel thanks to its location at the crossroads of the road from Egypt to Syria and the road that led from the coast to Transjordan. The city continued to develop and many of the residents of Lod settled in Ramla even after the change of dynasties and the transition to ‘Abbasid rule.
The current excavation was conducted in the southeastern part of the old city. A number of excavations were carried out nearby in the past, exposing the following antiquities: remains of a series of floors belonging to a building and a drainage system, which led to a pit dating to the ‘Abbasid and Fatimid periods (Kogan-Zehavi 2009); a floor foundation from the Mamluk period (Oren 2011); plaster floors from the Mamluk period (Permit No. A-5588; Kanias and Toueg 2012); two floors from the Fatimid period and a wall foundation of an Ottoman building (Toueg 2015); and a habitation level, a floor and a terra-cotta pipe leading to a pool from the ‘Abbasid period (Marcus 2015).
Two squares (A3, A5; Figs. 2, 3) were opened along an east–west axis and excavated down to the ancient remains (0.3 m below the surface). Two layers (II, III) were exposed, ascribed to the Early Islamic and the Mamluk periods respectively.
Stratum II. In Sq A3, remains of a plaster floor (L102) were exposed that abutted the southeastern side of a drainage channel (L103) that ran southwest–northeast (Fig. 4). A small section of the channel, built of small fieldstones and gray mortar, was preserved; gray plaster was applied to the inside of the channel. Floors attributed to three phases were revealed in Sq A5. The floor relating to the earliest phase was made of plaster (L109) and a terra-cotta pipe composed of sections (L115, diam. 10 cm; Fig. 5) was integrated in it along an east–west axis. The pipe, which was encased within tamped small fieldstones and gray mortar and was apparently used for drainage, was set on a thick plaster bedding. A plaster floor was installed above it on a hamra foundation. The floor abutted an installation (L114) in the southeastern corner of the square, which was also used in the late phase. The installation was plastered and its walls were made of small fieldstones and gray mortar (Fig. 6). A plaster floor (L108), ascribed to the second phase, was exposed in the square’s northwestern corner. A terra-cotta pipe also used for drainage was incorporated along an east–west axis in the floor (L113; Fig. 7). The eastern end of the pipe turned north and continued outside the square, probably to a cistern. A section of a colorful mosaic floor (L105) that included a bird in a round frame in the northeastern part of the square (Fig. 8) was ascribed to the late phase. In the south of the square, a gray plaster floor (L118) was revealed that abutted the western side of the installation; it was also used in the early phase (L114). The pottery from this stratum included a krater (Fig. 9:1), glazed bowls (Fig. 9:2–6), a deep bowl (Fig. 9:7), a glazed fry pan (Fig. 9:8), a jar (Fig. 9:9) and a kiln wedge (Fig. 9:10) dating to the Early Islamic period (tenth–eleventh centuries CE).
Stratum I. Sections of walls (L116, L117; Fig. 10) made of partially dressed small and medium-sized fieldstones were discovered in the southern half of Sq A3. It seems that W116 adjoined W117 to form the corner of a building. These walls severed the earlier remains.
The pottery from this stratum includes a bowl (Fig. 9:11) and a green, lead-glazed jug (Fig. 9:12), dating to the Mamluk period.
The remains of the floors, drainage channels, walls and installation belonged to a residential quarter that was part of the urban continuum of Ramla in the Early Islamic and Mamluk periods. They complement the remains that were exposed in previous excavations in the area.