During March 2006 a salvage excavation was conducted in Area C at the Mazliah antiquities site (Ramla South; permit No. A-4739; map ref. NIG 187396–407/647014–27; OIG 137396–407/147014–27), to examine a water cistern, whose excavation was not completed. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by A. Gorzalczany (photography), with the assistance of V. Pirsky (surveying) and A. Onn.
A square was opened in Area C, the westernmost of the three excavation areas from 2005 (HA-ESI 118
). Salvage excavations in Area C were conducted in 2005 on behalf of Bar Ilan University (License No.B-299/2005). Salvage excavations in Area A were conducted on behalf of Tel Aviv University (License Nos. B-306/2006 B-298/2005). Another extensive salvage excavation (Permit No. A-4454) and other excavations (HA-ESI 120
; Permit Nos. A-4910, A-5118, A-5168, A-5311, A-5331) were carried out on behalf of the IAA.
A vaulted water cistern in an excellent state of preservation that was ascribed to the Abbasid period was examined in the current excavation.
The finds included fragments of pottery and glass vessels and a well-preserved bronze pestle.
A rectangular water cistern, covered with a barrel vault and known from previous excavations, was explored. The ceiling of the cistern was breached to allow its examination inside. The cistern was exposed for 3 m along a north–south axis and 1.7 m wide in an east–west direction. Traces of plaster on the interior walls were discerned.
The cistern was built of different size fieldstones that were bonded with gray material; it was excavated to a depth of 1.9 m in a fill of light brown-colored soil.
Three channels that descended to the cistern at a sharp angle were noted in its eastern side. The southern channel had a rectangular cross-section (0.4 × 0.3 × 0.4 m; width of upper outer part 0.3 m, width of inner part 0.15 m) and was coated with gray-white plaster (thickness 0.5–1.0 cm). On its way to the cistern the channel became wider and funnel shaped. The middle and northern channels were not plastered and their inner cross-sections were square (0.25 × 0.25 m).
At a depth of 1.9 m from the top of the vault was a layer of large stones and dark gray fill mixed with plaster. Overlying this level were fragments of pottery vessels that included bowls, juglets and fragments of small vessels, dating to the Abbasid period, as well as fragments of glass vessels and a well-preserved bronze pestle.
The plastered cistern was probably used for storing water. Several similar installations were exposed during excavations in this area (HA-ESI 118
). Based on the ceramic finds, the cistern ceased to be used in the ninth century CE.