A floor’s bedding was exposed in the southern part of the square. It consisted of fieldstones bonded with gray mortar and was overlain with the remains of a mosaic floor, composed of coarse tesserae (L504). A small section of a pink plaster floor (L508) was uncovered north of the mosaic floor.
Remains of a floor (L501), overlain with fragments of a tabun and a bowl (Fig. 2:4), were found in the center of the square. These were subsequently dismantled and remains of a thick white plaster floor (L502) were exposed beneath Floor 501. Evidence of Floor 502, overlain with a small bowl (Fig. 2:2), a bowl (Fig. 2:8) and a lamp (Fig. 3:1), was noted throughout the entire excavation area. A jug (Fig. 2:14), a juglet (Fig. 2:17) and a cooking-pot lid (Fig. 2:23) were uncovered below Floor 502.
A wall (W701), built of fieldstones and bonded with gray mortar, was exposed in the northwestern corner of the square; the wall’s eastern side was coated with plaster. Potsherds recovered from fill located nearby included a small bowl (Fig. 2:1), a juglet (Fig. 2:16) and two lamps (Fig. 3:5, 6). Wall 701 was apparently connected to Floor 502, although the latter’s remains were not found near it; the continuation of Floor 502 was revealed in the northern part of Square A.
A floor of plaster (L503), in which potsherds were incorporated, was discovered in the southern part of the square. They were exposed when the upper plaster layer of the floor was damaged. Noteworthy among the potsherds embedded in the floor were several flat bases of buff-colored ware, characteristic of the Early Islamic period, including bowls (Fig. 2:3, 6), cooking pots (Fig. 2:9, 10), a lug handle (Fig. 2:21) and lamps (Fig. 3:3, 4, 7). The western part of the floor was leveled and gray; the eastern part had a pinkish white color and scaled the wall remains (W702).
Circular (diam. 1.2 m) and rectangular (0.3×0.6 m) disturbances in the floor that contained potsherds dating to the eighth–ninth centuries CE were found in the southern part of the square. The potsherds in the rectangular disturbance included the rim of a small imported Cypriot Red-Slip bowl (Hayes, Type A9), engraved with a cross and Greek letters, dating from the late sixth to the end of the seventh centuries CE (Fig. 2:5) and a juglet (Fig. 2:18). A bowl (Fig. 2:7), jugs (Fig. 2:13, 15) and a juglet (Fig. 2:19) were found in the circular disturbance.
The northern corner of a structure or installation, built of worked stones and fieldstones (W700), was exposed above the floor in the northeastern side of the square. It was destroyed during the installation of the sewer pipeline.
An irregular four-sided structure was exposed in the northwestern part of the square. Its walls were a single course high and built of coarsely worked fieldstones. Both sides of the southern wall (W703), which consisted of two rows of coarse fieldstones (thickness 0.7 m), were revealed. The structure’s northern and southern walls adjoined a channel in the east that led to an adjacent installation to the south. The channel was built of medium-sized fieldstones, bonded with gray mortar. Based on its construction, it seems that the structure rose only several dozen centimeters high. The ceramic finds included a jug handle (Fig. 2:20).
Two pools built of fieldstones and bonded with mortar were exposed in the middle of Square A (Fig. 4). Two phases were distinguished in the northern pool, indicating a change in the production technique or in the installation’s function.
The pool was square (0.58×0.62 m, height 0.56 m) and its sides were built of two rows of fieldstones bonded with gray mortar; its surface was coated with gray plaster. A groove for a possible placing of a cover was noted along the edge of the pool.
The pool’s southern wall and the southern part of its eastern wall were found destroyed and in the cross-section of the later trench, it was possible to discern the course of a disturbance that crossed the area from east to west.
Three applications of plaster – a pink base layer containing a large amount of crushed potsherds, a gray intermediate layer containing a large quantity of ash and an upper layer of pinkish-white plaster, composed of lime and a few crushed potsherds – were noted in the pool, which contained a juglet handle (Fig. 2:22).
A feeder channel adjoined the upper part of the pool and an opening leading to an outlet channel was discerned in the pool’s southeastern bottom corner.
The feeder channelappears to have been cast (outer width 0.39 m, inner width 0.21 m, max. wall thickness 11 cm, max. depth 18 cm). The color of its floor was whitish grayandthe sides were built of gray mortar that contained a large amount of ash. Neither the sides, nor the floor of the channel were plastered. The sides were reinforced and thickened with fieldstones bonded with mortar. The channel was found covered with body fragments of store jars (Fig. 2:12), a cooking pot (Fig. 2:11) and several elongated pebbles. The channel, extending from the northeast at a gentle slope (exposed length 2 m; 3.5°), was connected to the pool via a jar’s neck (outer diam. 11 cm, inner diam. 7 cm, angle of connection 40°) that was incorporated in the pool’s side, 36 cm above its floor.
The outlet channelislocated at the bottom of the pool, next to its southeastern corner. The channel extended to the southeast (length of exposed section 1.09 m, gradient c. 3°, inner diam. 10 cm, max. depth 12 cm, wall thickness 12–16 cm) and consisted of pink mortar, identical in color and composition to the plaster that was applied to the bottom of the pool. The continuation of the channel to the east was destroyed.
The jar neck, which connected the feeder channel to the pool, was blocked with a stone inserted from the direction of the channel and gray mortar secured it in place. The opening of the channel was blocked from inside the pool with plaster, composed of lime, ash that contained charcoal inclusions, small gravel and a few bits of crushed potsherds, whose surface was made smooth. The sides of the pool were raised 42 cm (to an overall height of 0.98 m) with the construction of fieldstone courses. The new construction was coated with gray plaster, which extended below the seam formed by the earlier construction.
The difference in the construction phases is also apparent on the exterior surfaces of the pool. Those were plastered in the first phase, whereas in the second phase, the fieldstones in the upper courses were bonded with gray mortar and no plaster was applied to them; no groove for a cover along the edge of the pool was carved in this phase.
Another pool was exposed c. 0.6 m south of the northern pool. The destroyed upper part of this pool (0.44×0.45 m, wall thickness 12 cm, max. preserved height 0.15 m) had originally been coated with pink plaster.
A partition of gray mortar (thickness c. 0.1 m) was connected to the southern corner of the pool; traces of pink plaster were discerned above it and its base was not exposed.
The building material indicates that while the two pools were not connected, they were built during the first phase of the installation’s activity.
The use of the installation is unclear; however, based on the difference in the diameter of the feeder and the outlet channels, a relatively larger amount of liquid probably poured into the northern pool at a high velocity, whereas the discharge was slow. The location of the outlet channel indicates that the pool was not meant to hold any precipitated liquids and was emptied entirely.
East of the outlet channel from the northern pool was a section of pavement covered with large fragments of pottery vessels (L507), whose elevation matched that of the potsherds, which covered the outlet channel. The gap between the two pools in the first phase was probably covered with a floor of potsherds.
A layer of ash, mixed with grains of lime and overlain with an intact lamp (Fig. 3:2), covered Floor 507.
The ceramic finds recovered from the excavation included a relatively large number of lamps and small bowls, as well as fragments of jugs, cooking pots, jars and a section of a U-shaped pipe (Fig. 5).
The multitude of exposed floors, building remains, pools and pottery vessels reflect the concentrated effort invested in the period following the founding of the city. The excavation area, which was probably an industrial zone, was most likely situated within the city.
A Lamp with an Arabic Inscription
Complete conical lamp with a broken tongue handle (Fig. 3:4). An Arabic Kufic inscription is seen around the nozzle. The inscription is written partly in regular and partly in retrograde script. It is a corrupted version of a legend found on other Abbasid lamps, which reads: ‘Lit the fire and do not tilt and lit your light and do not extinguish’ (Clermont–Ganneau Ch. 1898. Recueil d’Archéologie Orientale, tome II, Paris, p.20).
The inscription here is faulty and contains only a few words from the original legend, it says:
لا....... نير [in retrograde script]
On other side of nozzle:
تنطفي ولا تنكفي
‘Burn do not [unintelligible letters-alaai
extinguish [your light]and do not tilt’
The potter who wrote this inscription while making the lamp probably did not speak fluent Arabic; thus, he used retrograde script and did not copy the full original legend.
There are other examples of corrupting words and even Allah’s name is sometimes written in retrograde script. These lamps are known from the boundaries of jund al Urdunn, the northern country of Palestine in the Early Islamic period (Stacy D. 2004. Excavations at Tiberias, 1973–1974: The Early Islamic Periods [IAA Reports 21]. Jerusalem, p. 150).
The population of the Land of Israel prior to, during and later than the Islamic conquest, included Jews, Samaritans and Christians whose mother tongue was not Arabic. It is possible that one of these communities was the creator of the lamp.
For evidence of transfer of people from these communities from Lod to Ramla during the latter's establishment see Amitai-Preiss (Amitai- Preiss N., 'The Coins'. In: Gotfeld O., Ramla: Final Report on the Excavations North of the White Mosque, Qedem, 51, note 3).
Another version of this inscription is found on a lamp, said in the report of the excavations at Emmaus to be located at The Rockefeler Museum (Bagatti P.B. 1947. Emmaus – el Qubeibeh e di dinotri. Jerusalem, p. 147, Pl. 36, No. 87; IAA No. 40-446). This legend says: ‘In the name of Allah burn the fire and do not extinguish the light’.