Squares 2–4 yielded no architectural remains, yet the accumulations and fill excavated in them down to the level of the sand on which the city was built, contained potsherds, the earliest of which dated to the late eighth century CE and latest to the eleventh century CE. The remains uncovered in the rest of the squares are described below.
Square 1 (Fig. 3)
Three phases dating to the Abbasid period were discerned and are described below from earliest to latest.
Phase 1. A wall (W207) preserved a single course high was excavated in the middle of the square. The wall, aligned east–west, was built of large haphazardly dressed stones set directly on the sand. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to the late eighth–early ninth centuries CE were retrieved from the sand on both sides of the wall.
Phase 2. Wall 207 was dismantled and another wall (W205) was built instead and excavated near the southern section of the square. Wall 205, whose short surviving section (length 0.6 m) was preserved two foundation courses high, was built of small fieldstones.
Phase 3. Wall 205 was dismantled and Wall 202 was constructed. The wall was built of ashlars with a core of fieldstones. Wall 202, aligned north–south, was preserved two courses high atop a foundation course built of fieldstones. While the foundation course was exposed in the sand, fragments of pottery vessels dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE were discovered.
Square 5 (Fig. 4)
A partially preserved room was excavated in the northern half of the square. The room was delimited by walls in the south (W203; Fig. 2: Section 3–3), east (W204; see Fig. 2: Section 2–2) and north (W206). The western wall did not survive and only a small portion of W206 was preserved. Walls 203 and 204 were preserved two ashlar courses high atop two foundation courses of fieldstones; Wall 206 was preserved a single course high above a foundation course of fieldstones, which was set at an elevation higher than the foundation courses of the two other walls. The walls were preserved below the presumed floor level and fragments of pottery vessels dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE were recovered from the fill between them (L127).
Part of a plaster floor (L126) was excavated in a probe at the northwestern corner of the square; the floor extended beyond the limits of the excavation area (Fig. 5). Potsherds dating to the Abbasid period were retrieved from the excavation of the floor and the fill beneath it.
Meager remains of a white plaster floor (L110) that abutted a wall (W208; Fig. 6) were excavated in the eastern part of the square; only three stones of W208 were preserved. Body fragments of vessels dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE were collected from the fill beneath the floor.
Square 8 (Fig. 7)
An installation that consisted of a thin terra-cotta pipe embedded in a foundation of stones’ clusters (L108) was excavated in the northern half of the square. The pipe drained into the base of a jar, which was also embedded in the foundation, by way of a hole drilled in its side (Fig. 8). The foundation was enclosed on the south by a stone wall (W201) preserved a single foundation course high. A semicircular pit (L109; see Fig. 2: Section 1–1) that severed a plaster floor (L125) adjoined the southern side of the wall. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE were collected from the fill beneath the floor (L128).
Due to its poor state of preservation, it was impossible to determine the function of the system. It seems that the terra-cotta pipe drained a sink or a facility that did not utilize large amounts of water, which the jar was unable to accommodate. The jar probably served as a sump and another terra-cotta pipe, which was not preserved, conveyed water to Pit 109 that was used for storage. However, the possibility that the system was used in the performance of some sort of work should not be negated.
Pottery dating from the Abbasid until the Fatimid periods was recovered from the excavation. These include bowls dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 9:1), the ninth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 9:2), a bowl decorated with dark stripes on a yellow background and splash-glazed (Fig. 9:3) and a gold-luster bowl (Fig. 9:4), both dating to the eleventh century CE. The cooking vessels include kraters from the ninth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 9:5, 6), a fry-pan from the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 9:7) and a fry-pan from the eleventh century CE (Fig. 9:8). The storage vessels include a zir type jar (Fig. 10:1), a pomegranate-shaped vessel (Fig. 10:2), jugs (Fig. 10:5–8), and a juglet (Fig. 10:10) from the ninth–tenth centuries CE; a decorated jug (Fig. 10:3) and a decorated jar handle (Fig. 10:4) from the eleventh century CE; and another jug (Fig. 10:9) and a flask (Fig. 10:11) from the ninth–eleventh centuries CE. A lamp fragment dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 10:12) was found, as well as a bronze weight (Fig. 11) in Square 4.
In addition, two fragments of a crucible used for smelting metal and several pieces of iron slag were found; it is unclear whether these are evidence of a metal industry or perhaps they are part of the fill that was brought to the site after the region was abandoned.
The Glass Vessels
The excavation yielded a small and interesting assemblage of glass fragments (Fig. 12). Generally, the assemblage dates from the eighth to the tenth centuries CE, but comprises a large number of items, which may indicate that the earliest occupation at the site was possibly no later than the mid-eighth century CE. Among the latter there are fragments of at least three horseshoe-shaped objects (Fig. 12:1–3), two of which (Fig. 12:1, 2) were discovered together in L127. These objects are similar in their circular cross-section and are thickened on one side and unfinished on the other, but they differ in their greenish blue glass hues. The actual color of Fig. 12:1 is concealed by a strong crust of yellowish gold weathering. The function of these unusual objects is unclear. They may have been horseshoe-shaped amulets, as well as implements or elements of pre-manufactured glass. Similar fragments are known mainly from museum and private collections. Their appearance during the past two decades in excavations in various sites at Ramla suggests that they were possibly a local product of the Umayyad period (Gorin-Rosen 2010
. P. 254, Pl. 10.11:9). The discovery of at least three such objects in this excavation underlines this suggestion.
Six other fragments (Fig. 12:4–9), a half of the diagnostic pieces, may also be assigned to the eighth century CE. Moreover, three of these (Fig. 12:4, 5, 7), which were found in the same context as Fig. 12:1, 2 (L127), likely belong to the same period, possibly no later than the mid-eighth century CE. They include a bowl-shaped oil lamp (Fig. 12:4), which is almost colorless with a bluish tinge, and has a wide out-folded rim and a short handle made of inferior-quality greenish glass with yellow streaks and black impurities; a deep cylindrical greenish blue bowl (Fig. 12:5) with a thick incurving rim; and a small globular bottle (Fig. 12:7) with a flaring rim, possibly deformed during the manufacturing process, which resembles Fig. 12:4 in color and the poor quality of glass. Other vessels that may be associated with the eighth century CE repertoire by their fabric and their peculiar forms are a small greenish cup (Fig. 12:6), known as alembic, with a short out-folded rim and a long horizontal spout (L113); a small greenish blue bottle (Fig. 12:8) featuring a shallow ring base (L129), and a yellowish bottle (Fig. 12:9) with a plain base (L107).
Only two diagnostic fragments demonstrate the distinctive types of the Abbasid period. They are a globular greenish blue bottle (Fig. 12:10) with a rounded rim and a short neck with traces of shallow ribbing (L113), and a cylindrical colorless beaker (Fig. 12:11) with a flat base (L103). The latter represents the latest type found at the site, parallels to which date to the ninth–tenth centuries CE.
Although the pottery found at the site is assigned to the Abbasid period, most of the glass vessels correspond to the Umayyad period repertoire. They possibly represent the earlier stage of the city occupation, immediately after the mid-eighth century CE, when the Early Islamic dynasties changed, but the Umayyad tradition of glass production was retained.