Square A (Fig. 3). A rock-hewn rectangular installation (L39; 3 × 4 m, depth 0.5 m) paved with plain white mosaic (L24; Fig. 4) set on a bedding of dark gray bonding material (L29) was partially unearthed; it apparently extended eastward and southward, beyond the excavation area. The installation’s usage is unknown. A broad east–west wall (W28; 1.8 m wide, exposed length 4 m, preserved height 0.5 m) was built over the installation’s north side; only the foundation course of the wall was preserved. Its north face was built of large, roughly hewn stones, and its south face utilized the installation’s hewn wall, and between them was a fill of small fieldstones bonded with mortar. As the wall’s construction was adapted to incorporate the rock-hewn wall of the installation, they are apparently contemporary. The construction method and orientation of W28 resemble those of buildings from the Crusader settlement excavated at the site in the past, suggesting that both the installation and W28 date from that period. A stone collapse (L23) found inside the rock-hewn installation, along its west wall, dates from no earlier than the Mamluk period, during which the installation and W28 became obsolete. Worn teeth of adult horses (below) were found between the collapsed stones. The bedrock in the area to the west of the installation had been leveled. A layer of soil covering the leveled rock yielded a prutah of Alexander Jannaeus (80/79–76 BCE; IAA 161510).
Square B and Trench I (Fig. 3). Rock-cutting marks identified in Trench I, north of W28, may be the continuation of the hewn installation discovered in Square A. The bedrock uncovered in Square B was devoid of rock-cutting marks. A wall unearthed in the north of the square (W16; width 2.1 m, excavated length 6.2 m; Fig. 5) lay on an east–west axis, parallel to W28. Wall 16 was founded on the bedrock and was built of two rows of roughly hewn stones with an inner core of small fieldstones bonded with mortar. Only two courses of the wall were preserved (height 0.4 m); its northern part had been damaged by the laying of modern infrastructures. In part of the space between W16 and W28 lay a dark gray plaster floor (L30), and in the rest of the space was terra rossa soil (L18) containing Early Islamic potsherds. Collapses stones (L17, L31) covered both the plaster floor and the terra rossa soil. The collapse layer yielded bones of sheep/goat and cattle that are characteristic of slaughtering waste (below) and a Herodian coin (37–4 BCE; IAA 161509). A capital decorated with petals discovered between the stones of the collapse (Fig. 6) dates from the Byzantine period. The capital was apparently in secondary use in the wall of a building that stood there. A bell-shaped rock-hewn cistern (L14; Fig. 7) with a square opening was unearthed in the center of Square B. Its walls were coated with light gray plaster. Modern refuse found in the pit indicates that it was used during the twentieth century CE. It is impossible to date the cistern. As with W28, the construction method and orientation of W16 resemble those of buildings from the Crusader settlement unearthed here in the past, making it likely that W16 dates from this period as well.
Square C (Fig. 8) yielded a broad, east–west wall was (W34; width 1.6 m, excavated length 2 m, preserved height 0.3 m; Fig. 9) that ran parallel to W16 and W28 and was similar in its construction method and orientation. Collapsed stones (L35), probably resulting from the collapse of W34, were discovered to its north, and a modern soil fill (L36) found to its south reached the bedrock.
Square D and Trench II (Fig. 8). A circular rock-hewn installation was discovered in Trench II (L30; diam. 0.7 m, max. depth 0.4 m; Fig. 10). A soil deposit in the installation yielded Early Islamic potsherds, supplying a terminus post quem for the time when the installation ceased to be used. A north–south wall (W19; width 1.2 m, excavated length 3.2 m, preserved height 0.5 m) was discovered in Square D; its construction method is similar to that of the other walls uncovered in the excavation. Wall 19 was abutted on the east by a thick layer of solid white chalk (L21). The south part of W19 was damaged, but it may have originally abutted W34, and they may have belonged to the same architectural unit. A stone collapse (L20; Fig. 11) was unearthed to the east of W19, and a fill of tamped, light brown soil was uncovered to the north of the wall. A circular installation built of small fieldstones (L26; diam. 0.4 m, height 0.35 m; Fig. 12) was uncovered within this fill, in the west part of the square. As the installation was covered by the layer of white chalk (L21), it predates it.
Cisterns. The four water cisterns (L2, L3, L10, L12; see Fig. 2) discovered to the south of the excavation squares were hewn in the bedrock. Cistern 2 is elliptical, and its walls were coated with thick, light gray plaster, which included small gravel chips (Fig. 13); the plaster was applied to a bedding of potsherds. The soil accumulation at the bottom of the cistern (L6) yielded Mamluk-period potsherds, providing a terminus post quem for the time when the cistern ceased to be used. Cistern 3 is bell-shaped, and its walls were coated with plaster identical to that found in Cistern 2 (Fig. 14). Immediately to the north of Cistern 3 was a rock-hewn settling pit (L4), which connected to Cistern 3 via a hewn channel (L5). The soil accumulation at the bottom of the cistern (L8) yielded potsherds from the Mamluk period, indicating that the cistern fell into no earlier than that period. Cisterns 10 and 12 were discovered in a section of an access path leading to the site (Fig. 15). They continue southward, beyond the limits of the excavation area. The cisterns are barrel-shaped, and their walls were coated with thick gray plaster. They contained an accumulation of terra-rossa soil (L11, L13) mixed with fieldstones and Early Islamic potsherds, indicating that the cistern fell into disuse during this period at the earliest.
Pottery. The excavation yielded Early Islamic pottery, including a bowl (Fig. 16:1), basins (Fig. 16:2, 3), a cooking pot (Fig. 16:4), jugs (Fig. 16:5, 6) and a jar (Fig. 16:7), as well as pottery from the Mamluk period, which included a handmade bowl decorated with a geometric motif (Fig. 16:8) and a bowl coated with yellow-green slip beneath a transparent glaze (Fig. 16:9).
Animal Bones. A few animal bones were retrieved from the excavation area. They were classified by species and skeletal part (Table 1; after Stiner 2002). Horse teeth (N=6) with signs of advanced wear (Phase G, after Grant 1982), characteristic of adult specimens, were found among the collapsed stones (L23) in the rock-hewn installation in Area A. The layer of collapse in Area B (L17, L31) yielded sheep/goat bones (N=3) and cattle bones (N=1) from parts that provide little meat, and thus are characteristic of butchering waste. The bones retained marks made by roots, attesting to the weathering processes they sustained prior to the excavation (Behrensmeyer 1978). No cut- or burn-marks were found on the bones.
Table 1. Bone finds
Skeletal part
Maxilla, molar M2
Maxilla, molar M2
Maxilla, molar M1
Maxilla, molar M1
Maxilla, molar M3
Maxilla, molar M2
Ramus, mandible
Mandible, molar M1
Mandible, molar M2
The architectural remains unearthed in the excavation resemble in structure and orientation previously excavated remains of the Crusader settlement at the site. Water cisterns, which were probably used by the inhabitants of this settlement, were also discovered. The remains augment those encountered in previous excavations at the site and appear to belong to a ‘street-village’ type of settlement from the Crusader period (for details of this settlement model, see Boas 2010:92–93). Such villages were short-lived and disappeared from the region with the withdrawal of the Crusaders. The discovery of a village without defenses attests to improved security during this period, possibly as a result of the Crusader conquest of Ashqelon in the mid-twelfth century CE. Scholars have proposed that settlements of this type were occupied by settlers of Frankish origin (Boas and Arbel 1999). The village was supervised from a nearby farmstead by the landowner or his representatives. This settlement model is known in the region north of Jerusalem, at sites such as Kh. el-Burj and Kh. el-Kurkum in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood.
A document from 1160 mentions a village by the name of Ramata that lay north of Jerusalem and was inhabited by local Christians (Pringle and Leach 1983:160–174). Prawer identified Ramata with the remains of an ancient settlement discovered in the village of er-Ram, to the east of the current excavation (Prawer 1980:132). Pringle suggested that remains of a building discovered in the center of the village served as an administrative building for the payment of taxes and debts by the residents of Ramata (uoltas nostras de Noua Villa). The document also states that near Ramata, a new settlement (Noua Villa) was established in the Crusader period by Frankish settlers who grew vines and grains. The remains unearthed in the excavation at Kh. er-Ram may belong to this new Frankish settlement. The IAA archive file of Kh. er-Ram (IAA File No. SRF/156) contains photographs of a ruined building, which included vaults, that was documented at the site from the late nineteenth century CE onward and was identified as a khan. The structure’s remains were destroyed during the latter half of the twentieth century, with the construction of the ‘Atarot industrial zone. The building may well have incorporated the remains of Crusader-period buildings.
The excavation also suggests that the site was occupied also during the Early Islamic period and again in the Mamluk period, when some of the structures from the Crusader village were probably used.