Square A1 (Figs. 2, 3)
The light colored fill (L112, L115) that contained glass fragments (see below) and potsherds dating to the eighth century CE was ascribed to the early phase. The pottery included a red slipped and burnished base of a Late Roman C bowl (Fig. 4:1), a buff-ware bowl with an outward folded rim (Fig. 4:2), a fragment of Fine Byzantine Ware cup (Fig. 4:3), a body sherd of a jar decorated with white band slipping and white dots (Fig. 4:4), a rim of a mold-made buff-ware jug (Fig. 4:5), a base decorated in a mold (Fig. 4:6), a grenade-like vessel (Fig. 4:7) and fragments of a zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 4:8), of which two legs and part of the stomach were preserved; it has remains of two black stripes and a white band slipping that has barely survived.
A large refuse pit (L104, L109) ascribed to the late phase, was discovered in the northeast of the square. The black color of the pit stood out prominently against the light colored fill layers from the early phase, into which it was dug. Layers of ash and black soil composed the fill in the pit, indicating burning and soot. The pit contained numerous potsherds that dated to the Early Islamic period (ninth–tenth centuries CE), including two thin-walled buff-ware bowls with an everted rim, one of which is unglazed (Fig. 5:1) and the other is glazed yellow (Fig. 5:2), a jar (Fig. 5:3), jugs (Fig. 5:4–6), a jug handle adorned with a plastic decoration (Fig. 5:7) and mold-made lamps with floral and geometric designs, characteristic of the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (ninth–eleventh centuries CE; Fig. 5:8–11). In addition, numerous kiln bars (Figs. 5:12, 6) were found scattered throughout the excavation area, similar to the kiln bars discovered in Tiberias (‘Atiqot 26:57–59). Such bars attest to the presence of a pottery workshop in the immediate vicinity.
A layer of soil (L103) was discovered above the refuse pit; it was probably deposited after the pit ceased to be used.
Square A2 (Figs. 2, 7)
A poorly preserved white crushed chalk surface (L105) was ascribed to the early phase. No walls or other architectural features that can explain the surface were discovered; it was probably a floor. A probe was excavated in the southwestern part of the square (depth 3.25 m; Fig. 2: Section 2-2). The fill discerned in it consisted of irregular alternating layers of burnt material and light colored soil. Poorly preserved sections of White Surface 105 were found in the upper part of the probe. A large and diverse amount of ceramic finds was exposed, including bowls, jugs and jars, mostly dating to the Early Islamic period; a whole mold-made lamp with a floral pattern that has a geometric decoration in the channel connecting the filling with the wick holes (Fig. 8); and a body fragment of a pottery vessel with repair holes, in which bronze rings that were used to connect two parts of a vessel, survived (Fig. 9). In addition, a decorated bone’s object (Fig. 10), fragments of glass vessels (see below), animal bones and an illegible coin were found. The deeper the probe was excavated, fewer potsherds were discovered, and the most frequent were body sherds of baggy-shaped jars. The excavation did not reach sterile soil and was suspended due to safety constraints.
A small refuse pit (L107; diam. 0.5 m, depth c. 0.3 m; Fig. 11), which contained ash and black soil, with a layer of fill (L102) discovered above it, was ascribed to the late phase. All the potsherds from the fill above the pit dated to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (ninth–eleventh centuries CE), including a bowl that contained remnants of red material mixed with a glittering material that resembles mica (Fig. 12:1), a jar (Fig. 12:2), an open lamp with a pinched rim (Fig. 12:3), a mold-made lamp (Fig. 12:4) and a buff-ware saucer lamp (Fig. 12:5). The glass vessels from the fill above the pit also dated to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (ninth–eleventh centuries CE; see below). The potsherds inside Refuse Pit 107 dated to the Abbasid period (ninth century CE) and included two complete unglazed bowls, one with a thin everted wall (Fig. 13:1) and the other with an upright rim (Fig. 13:2), a bowl with a green-yellow glaze and brown patches (not drawn), a flawed jug that is probably a waster from a pottery workshop (Fig. 13:3), a mold-made lamp fragment decorated with a floral pattern (Fig. 13:4), a fragment of a jug handle with a plastic decoration (not drawn), fragments of kiln bars, non-diagnostic fragments of glass vessels and animal bones.
The Glass Finds
The excavation yielded c. 100 fragments of glass vessels that can be identified and dated. The quantity of finds is large in relation to the excavated area and assemblage comprises two main groups of vessels, one dating the eighth century CE and representing the beginning of the settlement in Ramla (Figs. 14, 15) and the other is attributed to the Abbasid and Fatimid period (Fig. 16). Glass industrial debris was also discovered.
Vessels from the Eighth Century CE
A selection of vessel fragments was discovered in L112; they have similar characteristics, such as the quality of material, the color shade of the glass and the type of weathering. Based on comparisons with many assemblages discovered in Ramla and other cities, i.e., Caesarea, Bet She’an and Tiberias, it seems that they should be dated to the eighth century CE, particularly its first half.
The finds from L112 (Fig. 14):
A bowl with a tightly, folded-in rim, made of greenish blue glass and covered with silvery weathering (diam. 11 cm; Fig. 14:1). Bowls of this kind were also used as lamps and they are very typical of assemblages from the Umayyad period.
A mold-blown base with a pattern of three circles around the center of the base and ribs that radiate from the outer circle (Fig. 14:2). The glass is a greenish blue shade and covered with silvery and sandy weathering. The glass itself is of a poor quality and contains many tiny bubbles and black impurities; nonetheless, the treatment and quality of the mold are high.
Four bottles that represent the most common types in the Umayyad period; a very small bottle with a short neck and rounded rim, of greenish blue glass covered with silvery weathering (rim diam. 1 cm; Fig. 14:3); a bottle with an uneven tightly folded-in rim, its neck is a short cylinder and its shoulder slopes, made of poor quality greenish blue glass that contains numerous tiny bubbles and black impurities; it is covered with silver-gold iridescence (Fig. 14:4); a bottle with haphazardly and partially folded rim that forms an open uneven ridge on the inside, the neck is a short broad cylinder and the shoulder is short, made of pale blue glass (Fig. 14:5); a very common type of bottle whose neck is made of four ridges, the highest one narrow, becoming increasingly wider toward the bottom, the side is relatively thin, the glass is a yellowish green shade covered with silvery weathering (Fig. 14:6).
Two bases, one of them thickened, made of greenish blue glass (Fig. 14:7), and the other without a scar, made of pale blue glass (Fig. 14:8). Based on the shade and quality of the material, it seems that the base in Fig. 14:7 belongs to the bottle in Fig. 14:4 and the base in Fig. 14:8 belongs to the bottle in Fig. 14:5. The absence of a scar on the base in Fig. 14:8 reinforces its match with the bottle in Fig. 14:5 because it shows the vessel was not transferred to a pontil after blowing and thereby explains the careless folding of the rim.
An everted jar rim that is folded in, made of greenish blue glass and covered with silvery weathering (Fig. 14:9). Such bottles are quite characteristic of the period; they are missing a neck or have a short one, their body is spherical or squat and their base is similar to those in Fig. 14:7, 8.
Base of a conical lamp with a pinched end section, carelessly worked; the wall thickness varies and the pinching is also uneven; it is made of greenish blue glass with silvery sandy weathering (Fig. 14:10). Lamps of this kind are very common to the Umayyad period. The quality of the material and the greenish blue shade distinguish it from later lamps of a similar form.
Mixing rod decorated with a very shallow rotating ribbed pattern, its end is rounded and has a circular cross-section, made of greenish blue glass with a light brown vein (Fig. 14:11). The rod complements the vessels that are characteristic of the period.
Glass vessels dating to the eighth century CE were also discovered in other loci (Fig. 15). Five vessels were found together in L115 (Fig. 15:1, 3–6); two vessels in L114 (Fig. 15:2, 7); and one vessel was found in L105 (Fig. 15:8).
A flaring bowl with a tightly folded-out rim made of poor quality, pale green glass, containing numerous black impurities and tiny air bubbles (diam. 14 cm; Fig. 15:1). Its form resembles that of bowls from the Roman period; however, based on the quality of the material and the assemblage in which it was found, it is dated to the Umayyad period.
A bowl with a slightly inverted and folded-out rim, the side is quite thick and signs of shallow widely spaced ribbing are visible on it (Fig. 15:2). Such bowls with a variety of decorations were mostly used as saucer lamps.
Cylindrical mold-blown cup with a rounded rim, and a very shallow decoration on its body, made of poor quality greenish blue glass containing numerous tiny bubbles and black impurities (Fig. 15:3). Cylindrical cups that have mold-blown decorations or the addition of attached trails are widespread in the Umayyad period and were discovered in many sites.
Two bases, characterized by a folded-in circumference; one base has a folded double hollow tube pinched around its circumference, made of greenish blue glass, covered with silvery sandy weathering and a pontil scar on its bottom (Fig. 15:4). The second base has an inward fold that protrudes in from the side along its circumference, made of greenish yellow glass and covered with silvery–black weathering; no pontil scar on its bottom (Fig. 15:5). The second base differs in its color from the rest of the glass vessels recovered from the excavation. Bases with an inward fold were used for cylindrical cups and bowls and were very popular in the eighth century CE.
A small body fragment, made of greenish blue glass and bearing an indistinct pattern that was pinched on both sides (Fig. 15:6). The complete pattern was probably a rhombus composed of dots or two parallel rows of pairs of dots—a pattern characteristic of this period.
A bottle with a haphazardly folded-in rim; made of greenish blue glass and covered with silvery sandy weathering (Fig. 15:7). It resembles a bottle discovered in L112 (see Fig. 14: 4), but is slightly larger.
Jar rim with a broad cylindrical mouth that is connected directly to the shoulder, without a neck; the rim is rounded and the fragment is made of greenish blue glass, covered with silvery sandy weathering (Fig. 15:8).
Vessels from the Ninth–Eleventh Centuries CE
The second group is ascribed to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (Fig. 16). This group includes plain and decorated vessels, and it differs from the early group in the quality of the material, the color of the glass, the form of the weathering, as well as the vessel types and decorations. The group is characterized by colorless glass covered with thick hard black weathering that ate away the side of the vessel. Three vessels were discovered in L102 (Fig. 16:1–3); one each in L100 (Fig. 16:4); in L103 (Fig. 16:5) and in L109 (Fig. 16:6).
A low bowl with an upright side, slightly thickened rim and a straight and thickened base (Fig. 16:1). Bowls of this kind occurred in a variety of sizes and were found in almost all the excavations in Ramla, as well as in other sites throughout the country; they represent the most characteristic type of the ninth and tenth centuries CE.
A small and very thick discus base with a thickened fold inside the vessel (Fig. 16:2). An inner fold on the base began to appear already in the eighth century CE (see Fig. 15:4, 5); however, this base is dated to the ninth–eleventh centuries CE, based on the quality of material and the thickness and treatment of the base.
A low ring base with a thickened bottom and a coarse pontil scar. The sides of the vessel slant outward. The fragment belongs to a large cup or closed vessel, such as a jug or juglet (Fig. 16:3).
Cylindrical cup with a thickened pressed-in base and a coarse pontil scar; it is made of pale purple glass and covered with very thick silvery black weathering (Fig. 16:4). A short wick tube was attached to the inside of the vessel, which turned it into a lamp. The vessel was discovered near the surface, next to a bottle with an open fold protruding outward on the neck, which begins to appear only in the eleventh century CE; it seems that they are the latest vessels in the assemblage and represent the latest phase of activity at the site. Their date should probably be pushed up to the Crusader or Mamluk periods.
Two vessels, decorated with beveling and carving, are made of fine quality colorless glass and coated with a thick layer of black weathering (Fig. 16:5, 6). The vessel in Fig. 16:5 is a square bottle of very high quality; its sides are carved and a boss was left in their center. The connections between the sides of the bottle were carved deeper with broad vertical stripes that continue down toward the base and form a carved X pattern on it, while the arms of the X connect the corners of the bottle. Bottles decorated with this technique began to appear in the ninth century CE and become very common in the tenth century CE. Such vessels were discovered in excavations at Ramla and elsewhere.
The vessel in Fig. 16:6 is a bottle whose neck is decorated with two beveled horizontal stripes and above them a grooved pattern, only the lower part of which survived; it can be reconstructed based on comparisons with other bottles. The bottle is identified with a well-known group of medium and large bottles whose neck, shoulders and often their bodies were decorated with beveled patterns. These bottles first appeared in the tenth century CE and were very common in the eleventh century CE.
Industrial Glass Waste
Industrial glass waste was found in four loci; it includes small chunks of clean raw glass ready for fusing, and lumps of furnace waste, to which poor quality glass is adhered. A greenish blue chunk of glass covered with sandy and silvery weathering (max. length 2.8 cm) was found with the group of vessels appearing in Fig. 14 and was dated to the eighth century CE (L112); a small lump of glass was found with three vessels that were dated to the eighth century CE (L115; Fig. 15:1, 3, 6); a lump of pale green glass covered with black decay was discovered in a refuse pit, attributed to the ninth and tenth centuries CE (max. length 4.3 cm; L109); two lumps of kiln debris, with poor quality glass adhering to them, were discovered in L103, ascribed to the late phase at the site.
The quantity of industrial glass waste discovered at the site is insufficient to determine whether a glass furnace operated in the excavated area. Furthermore, no debris that is characteristic of glass blowing, which could have confirmed such a supposition, was found. Therefore, we should assume that the origin of the industrial debris was not in the excavation area itself, but rather in a glass industry that existed in the immediate vicinity and its remains were scattered throughout the region.