During April–May 2005 a salvage excavation was conducted in Ramla, in the Old Courthouse compound, northwest of the Pool of St. Helena (Rehov Herzl 76; Permit No. A-4422*; map ref. NIG 1885–6/6481–2; OIG 1385–6/1481–2), after ancient remains were discovered in the wake of an antiquities inspection by A. Cohen. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Shahmarov family, was directed by K. Sa‘id, assisted by A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography) and K. Cytryn-Silverman (ceramic consultation).
Six squares (Fig. 1), revealing two strata that included wall remains of a residential building, plaster floors and water installations from the Abbasid period, were excavated.
A plastered layer (L107, L108) in the northern part of the area (Squares 5, 6; Fig. 2) abutted a deep bell-shaped water cistern with a square opening (L103; 0.6 × 0.6 m) that was lined with stones. Ceramic water pipes were installed in the shoulders of the cistern and drained rainwater into it (L102, L105). The cistern was not completely excavated. To its east was a wall (W109) built of small fieldstones, ash and lime that enclosed what was apparently a plastered installation (L110), which was not fully exposed. The fill above the plastered layer and inside the installation contained fragments of bowls (Fig. 3:1, 4–8), cooking pots (Fig. 3:9–11), jars (Fig. –14), jugs (Fig. –18) and fragments of lamps from the Abbasid period.
The eastern part of the area (Squares 1, 2; Fig. 4) consisted of a plastered surface (L215) that abutted the remains of a water cistern (L207; Fig. 5) and a wall (W214) built of ashlar stones. The cistern was bell-shaped and its walls were plastered. Its opening was found blocked by large stones that prevented alluvium from accumulating inside. It was not excavated due to safety precautions. The fill above the plastered surface yielded fragments of jugs (Fig. –21) and jug handles (Fig. , 23) that dated to the Abbasid period.
Three walls, to the west of the cistern, were built of small fieldstones (Square 3; W205, W211, W212; Fig. 6) and delineated a room. A partially preserved white plaster floor (L208) that abutted the walls was laid atop a layer of tamped earth. A robber trench was discerned in the continuation of Wall 211. Decorated lamps of the Abbasid period (Fig. 7) were found on top of Floor 208. Another room consisted of the plastered wall (W205) and W211, which formed a corner. A partially preserved white plaster floor (L216) abutted these walls. A jar for draining water was embedded into a plaster floor (L218) west of W211, in secondary use (Figs. ; 8). A soil surface with burnt traces and small stones (L219) was exposed at the western end of the area (Square 4).
Stratum IIBelow Floor 108 of Stratum I was a section of a wall (W113), founded on a layer of beach sand and built of small fieldstones with a core of medium-sized fieldstones. The wall, whose faces were coated with white plaster, was abutted on the east by remains of a floor bedding (L116), overlaid with bowls fragments (Fig. 3:2, 3) and a red body fragment decorated in white, which was probably part of a jar dating to the Abbasid period (Fig. ).
The remains discovered in the excavation indicate activity during the Early Abbasid period, which is comparable to results of many excavations conducted in the city of Ramla (HA–ESI 112:68*–70*). The site was probably destroyed and abandoned in the eleventh century CE, as a result of the earthquake that struck the region.