In November 2013, a refuse pit belonging to a pottery workshop was discovered at 9 Zahal Street in Ramla (map ref. 186746/648985; Fig. 1) during an archaeological inspection of the installation of garbage containers. The documentation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Alon Group, was conducted by Y. Elisha, with the assistance of A. Gorzalczany (studio photography) and H. Torgë (pottery reading).
The top of a refuse pit, used in the Early Islamic period, was exposed c. 3 m below the surface, at the bottom of a square that was dug for the purpose of installing garbage containers. It was not possible to estimate the size or depth of the ancient refuse pit. Numerous body fragments were found in it, consisting mainly oil lamps, jars and bowls. The pit was not damaged and was covered immediately, but a small number of vessels were collected for publication: two jugs, a flask, eleven oil lamps and a mold used to decorate pottery vessels. The mold and vessels were deformed and damaged, indicating that the pit comprised debris of a nearby pottery workshop. All of the vessels removed from the pit and those identified inside it were made of buff-colored clay.
Jug (Fig. 2). The upper part of the vessel was preserved. It was apparently prepared in two stages: the neck and body of the vessel were produced separately in the first stage, and were attached in the second. Usually the connection between the two parts of the vessel was perforated, but in this instance it remained closed. Another jug (Fig. 3), is decorated with a plastic chain-like ornamentation, was discovered with a broken neck. It was impossible to identify where the damage or defect was for which it was discarded into the pit. Parallels of this vessel were found in excavations in Ramla, and their distribution was probably limited (Kogan-Zehavi 2004
: Fig. 2:6; Shlomi 2008
: Fig. 2:15; Haddad 2010
: Fig. 19:8; ‘Azab 2011
: Fig. 18:6).
Juglet (height 8 cm, width of body 6 cm; Fig. 4). The rim is delicate and flares slightly up and out; it was probably meant to be a trefoil rim but is a somewhat flawed and asymmetric. A handle extends from the rim of the vessel to the upper part of the body. Wheel marks are clearly evident on the bottom of the juglet. A deep fracture is evident on the bottom of the vessel as well as an attempt to repair it. The incisions on either side of the break were fired, evidence that the damage happened during the firing process rather than afterwards. No parallels were found for this vessel.
Flask (Fig. 5). Only the upper part of the vessel, which has a pinkish hue, was preserved. The rim is fairly thick and folded out, and three prominent ridges are on the bottom half of the neck. On the inside of the vessel, at the base of the neck, is a perforation designed to allow liquid to flow into the body of the flask; the hole was carelessly fashioned and remnants of clay adhered around it. The flask has parallels from numerous excavations in Ramla (Arnon 2008
:151, Type 528b; Elisha 2009
: Fig. 4:5; Cytryn-Silverman 2010
: Pl. 9.24:9; Toueg and Arnon 2011
: Fig. 16) and it dates to the late eighth–early ninth centuries CE.
(Fig. 6). All of the lamps have a tongue handle without longitudinal stripes and an almond-shaped base with a pointed end. Lamps of this type are fairly commonplace in Ramla and date to the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Cytryn-Silverman 2010
:114–115). The lamps can be divided into three types on the basis of their decorations.
Four lamps are decorated with arcs and grapes (Fig. 7). On one side is a relief of small arcs and above them circles containing small flowers. On their other side is a relief of grape clusters and a tendril in a looped pattern between them coming together into circles around the clusters. The grape motif is a very common decoration appearing on lamps from the Abbasid period. However, the arc motif usually consists of only several wide arcs (Barbé 2006
: Fig. 7), whereas here the arcs are numerous and narrow. A similar lamp was found in an excavation of the Kokhav Ha-Zafon neighborhood in Ramla (Torgë 2014
: Fig. 12:13).
Another four lamps are adorned with an arc motif and a pattern of grapes and flowers (Fig. 8). One side is exactly identical with the lamps that have the arc and grape decoration (above). The other side has a pattern comprising two alternately arranged grape clusters and flowers. A tendril emerging from between them forms circular loops around the decorative elements. The nozzle on this lamp is identical to that of the lamps that have the arc and grape decoration and is decorated with a reticulated pattern of thin lines.
Three lamps are adorned with circles containing dots arranged in a tight
reticulated pattern (Fig. 9). Both sides of the lamps are identical. The nozzle is decorated with a denser
reticulated pattern than that of the other lamps. A similar lamp was discovered in the excavations at Qiryat Menachem Begin in Ramla (Shlomi 2007
: Fig. 2:18).
The mold was used to decorate jugs (Fig. 10) and is circular, like the neck of a jug. On the top part of the mold is the negative of a leaf pattern between two lines. On the middle is a pattern of triangles composed of very short lines next to leaves. No jug has been found with such a decoration. A similar mold was discovered in excavations north of the White Mosque in Ramla (Cytryn-Silverman 2010: Pl. 9.12:6, Photo 9.12).
The pit is indicative of a pottery workshop that operated in the area at the end of the eighth and in the ninth centuries CE. This is the westernmost area checked in the city of Ramla where antiquities were found. The absence of finds from later periods in this region indicates the size of the city during the Abbasid period, when Ramla was apparently at the height of its development.
Arnon Y. 2008. Caesarea Maritima: The Late Periods (700–1291 CE)
(BAR Int. S. 1771). Oxford.
Barbé H. 2006. Remains of Structures from the Early Islamic Period on Ha-Gedud Ha-‘Ivri Street, Ramla. ‘Atiqot 51:39*–47* (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 237–238).
Cytryn-Silverman K. 2010. The Ceramic Evidence. In O. Gutfeld. Ramla: Final Report on the Excavations North of the White Mosque (Qedem 51). Jerusalem. Pp. 97–211.
Shlomi V. 2007. Ramla, Qiryat Menachem Begin. HA-ESI 119
Shlomi V. 2008. Ramla, Smolenskin Street. HA-ESI 120
Torgë H. 2014. Ramla, Kokhav Ha-Z
afon Neighborhood. HA-ESI 126