Area A (Fig. 1)
Square A1. A wall (W20; Fig. 2), built of medium-sized limestone (0.2 × 0.2 × 0.3 m) placed on top of the sand and preserved a single course high, was discovered. The wall extended to the southwest, beyond the limits of the excavated area. The bottom portion of a jar (L61; Fig. 3), which was probably placed beneath the floor that did not survive, was excavated c. 1 m northwest of the wall. The practice of burying jars with their rim protruding above the floor level is a known phenomenon. The jars were used to store water, food and liquids; placing them beneath the floor exploited the cool underground, which preserved their contents. While excavating the fill on top of the sand flanking the wall (L53a, L55), fragments of pottery vessels were gathered, dating to the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE) and fragments of glass and a coin from the Umayyad period (eighth century CE; IAA 136925) were found, as well as a coin that is illegible.
Square A2. A plaster floor (L54) that covered the entire area of the square and continued northwest and southwest beyond its boundaries was exposed c. 0.4 m below the surface. Its northwestern end was damaged by the installation of a modern water pipe and its northeastern end was severed prior to the excavation when a backhoe dug a trial trench down to the sand level. Two other plaster floors (L58, L59; Fig. 1: Section 2-2, Fig. 4) were visible in the backhoe trench beneath Floor 54, and the side of a jar could be seen below the bottom one. Accordingly, Floor 54 was removed in the southeastern half of the square and the fill underlying the floor (L57) was excavated, as were Floors 58 and 59 (Fig. 1: Section 1-1). A zir jar, adapted for secondary use as an installation for holding liquids, was exposed below the bottom floor (L60; Fig. 5). For its adapted use, the rim and neck of the jar were removed and a fairly wide through-hole was cut into its side (Fig. 6). The zir was placed diagonally atop a bedding of stone clusters bonded with gray cement composed of lime, charcoal and olive pits mixture. The upper part of the jar faced east and a thick terracotta pipe was inserted into it, conveying liquid into the zir. Four sections of the pipe (Figs. 5, 7) were exposed. The pipe was set next to the opening and the space that remained between the neck and the edges of the opening was sealed with gray cement. The entire pipe was lined with clusters of stones bonded with cement to prevent it from shifting. No other openings for pipes were found leading in or out of the jar. It seems that the zir was meant to receive liquid but the precise use of it is unclear. Encrustation that points to contact with standing water was discovered only on a few zir fragments, and it therefore seems that the vessel was used to store liquids for only a short period of time.
Area B (Fig. 8)
Square B1. The square was located in the southeastern corner of the lot. The meager remains of a stone wall (W201) were exposed next to the eastern corner of the square. It was built of stones, whose upper part was dressed, and it seems that they were dismantled from a floor and utilized here in secondary use. The wall, preserved a single course high, was placed on top of soil fill (L104). A short section of W201 was excavated and it continued southeast beyond the limits of the excavated area. Remains of four thin plaster floors (L110, L121, L123, L125; Figs. 8: Section 1-1, 9) were excavated below Fill 104. The floors were superposed with fill between them (L120, L122, L126), which was intended to raise the floor level (total thickness of the floors and layers of fill c. 0.9 m). A complete jar resting on its side was exposed below Floor 123 (L124). Half of a jug with a spout was found resting on the side of the jar (Fig. 10). It is unclear if the jar was in situ, if the half jug placed on it was related to it, or if the occurrence of the two vessels together was just random. Excavating the floors and the layers of fill revealed potsherds that dated to the ninth and the beginning of the tenth centuries CE; hence it seems that these were four phases of repair made to the floors.
A small pit (L103; 0.3 × 0.3 × 0.5 m) was discovered next to the southern corner of the square. It was coated with pink hydraulic plaster and built of stone clusters bonded with gray cement, composed of lime and ash (Figs. 8: Sections 2-2, 3-3; 11). A terracotta pipe (L109), which extended beyond the excavated area, emerged from the southeastern side of the pit, close to its edge (Fig. 8: Section 2-2). This was probably a settling pit that formed part of a cistern; it was meant to prevent silt from flowing into the cistern, which was located beyond the excavated area. Potsherds dating to the Abbasid period (ninth–tenth centuries CE) were found in the fill around the pit (L108) and in the pale red fill on top of the sand in the other parts of the square (L106).
Squares B2, B4, B5. Architectural remains were exposed. Initially, gray colored accumulations (L101, L105, L112, L113) that are characteristic of the abandonment phase of the region were excavated; similar accumulations were uncovered in other sites throughout the city. Building remains that did join up to form a complete architectural plan were exposed beneath these accumulations. Four walls that formed corners with each other (W203, W204, W207, W210) and another wall (W208) were preserved. An opening was discerned in W204; however, due to its poor state of preservation, no threshold was found. Walls 207 and 210 continued beyond the excavated area. Walls 207 and 208 were parallel to each other and c. 0.5 m apart. The walls, preserved a single course high, were built of small and large semi-dressed stones bonded with gray cement rich in lime, ash and olive pits. The foundation course was placed on top of tamped hamra soil. While cleaning the soil that adhered to the walls, mud-brick fragments were found adjacent to them and other pieces were collected while excavating the squares. It therefore seems that the superstructure of the walls consisted of mud bricks.
Two jars whose bottom parts were buried in the sand (L114, L115; Fig. 12) were discovered to the southeast of W204. Presumably, they were placed below the floor, which was not preserved, and only their rims protruded above it. On the handle of Jar 114 was a stamped impression of a star—very common to the Abbasid period (see below). At some phase during the use of the building, a drainage channel, whose one side has only survived (W205), was constructed (L116; Fig. 13). The side of the channel, set on top of tamped hamra soil bedding (L111), was built of limestone, whose interior surface was partially dressed. For the most part, the stones in the side of the channel were fitted together, with hardly any space between them. The exterior side of the stones was dressed in a convex shape. Two sections of the channel were exposed; between them was a gap of a section that did not survive (length c. 1.5 m). The water in the channel flowed to the southeast in the northern section, passing through an opening in W204 that was presumably below the entrance threshold. The side of the channel was set above Jar 114 and negated its use. The channel curved to the southwest in the southern section.
A foundation course of a thin wall (W206) that was built of small fieldstones (0.1 × 0.1 × 0.2 m) and continued beyond the excavated area was exposed next to the northern corner of Sq B2.
A basin coated with gray hydraulic plaster (L117, 0.1 × 0.5 × 0.5 m; Fig. 14) was excavated in the middle of Sq B4. Its northwestern corner was slightly damaged. The basin was used in relation to liquids but its poor state of preservation precluded the reconstruction of its exact manner of use. A square foundation course (W209; 0.1 × 0.5 × 0.5 m), probably serving as a column or pillar base, was exposed southeast of it. Here too the construction was done on top of hamra fill (L119) that was placed directly on top of the sand. The layer of hamra deposited directly atop the sand was also excavated in Sq B5 (L118).
Square B3. The meager remains of a thin wall (W202; Fig. 15) were exposed below the soil accumulation (L102). The wall was built of well-dressed stones, arranged along their narrow side and preserved a single course high. This was probably the wall of some installation that did not survive. The pale red soil’s fill (L107) upon which the wall was placed contained potsherds, including an intact flask (Fig. 16).
The ceramic finds recovered from the excavation comprised a variety of domestic vessels and storage vessels that are characteristic of the Abbasid period (late ninth–early tenth centuries CE), including unglazed bowls (Fig. 17:1–4), glazed bowls (Fig. 17:5–11), jars (Fig. 18:1–3), including a jar with a stamped impression of a star on the handle (Fig. 18:17), jugs (Fig. 18:4–7), juglets (Fig. 18:8–14, 16) and mold-made sandal lamps (Figs. 18:15; 19).
Along with the potsherds that are commonly found in the layers of the Abbasid period were two fragments of a Celedon-type bowl (Fig. 20) that is mainly found in strata dating to the thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE. Celedon vessels are made of porcelain that is greenish gray, olive green or greenish blue in color and imitates jade. The provenance of such vessels is in northern China and the characteristic color is created by using iron oxides and reduction firing. The vessels were manufactured in China, beginning in the tenth–eleventh centuries CE (Song Dynasty) and are a development of the Yue Celedon vessels that were already produced in the ninth–tenth centuries CE (end of the Ting Dynasty) in the Yunan region in northern China. The appearance of the vessels in strata dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE is rare, but not unheard of, and has occurred in excavations at Samara and Fustat, where vessels of this kind were uncovered in strata dating to the ninth century CE.
The numismatic finds comprise four coins; two are Umayyad, one is Abbasid and one is illegible. An Umayyad coin that was minted in Ramla in 730 CE (IAA 136923) and an illegible coin were found in L53 in Area A. Two coins were found in Area B, L112: an Umayyad coin (IAA 136925) and an Abbasid one (beginning of the ninth century CE; IAA 136926).
The glass finds include twenty-seven fragments of vessels, including bowls, cups, bottles and lamps that range in date from the Byzantine until the Abbasid periods. Most of the fragments are made of greenish blue glass and several are blue or colorless. The fragments include a base with silvery trail, probably that of a cup that is characteristic of the fourth–fifth centuries CE; small deep bowls with a plain rounded rim or a rim decorated with a yellow trail, and small bottles that have an everted, folded-in rim that is characteristic of the Late Byzantine and Umayyad periods; a base of a mold-blown hexagonal bottle made of colorless glass (L120) and a hollow base of a lamp made of greenish blue glass with a rounded boss at its end (L112), which is usually dated to the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh centuries CE.
Remains of buildings and installations were exposed in the seven excavated squares; these are dated to the second half of the ninth-beginning of the tenth centuries CE (Abbasid period), based on the ceramic finds, which join finds from this time period that had been discovered in other excavations in Qiryat Menachem Begin in Ramla (HA-ESI 122; HA-ESI 123). It therefore seems that this is a settlement or a suburb of the city of Ramla that was founded some time during the second half of the ninth century CE; it was inhabited until the beginning of the tenth century CE and abandoned for some reason. At this stage of the research, it is impossible to determine the reasons behind the desertion of the settlement and whether the process was gradual or sudden. The meager state of the buildings’ preservation reflects the extensive stone robbery that occurred after it was abandoned. It should be noted that until now, apart from the finds in the Begin quarter, no single-period settlement has been discovered within the city of Ramla and its environs, and the discovery of such a site requires further study.
The two Celedon bowl fragments join another potsherd of this type ware that was discovered in the excavation of an adjacent lot (HA-ESI 123) and a fragment that was discovered in the excavations in Ramla South (HA-ESI 122) and underscore the need to re-examine the beginning of the Celedon vessels appearance in Israel. Finding the vessels in Ramla at the time when they first appeared in China may be indicative of Ramla’s extensive economic ties. Nevertheless, the possibility should be noted that the appearance of Celedon vessels in Ramla may be a result of commercial ties with Bagdad and the rest of the cities in the Fertile Crescent, rather than direct trade with China.
Some of the glass vessels date to the Byzantine and Umayyad period; however, since they were discovered with a ceramic assemblage from the Abbasid period, the duration of their existence should be reviewed.