In September 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted in the Muslim cemetery in Ramla (Permit No. A-7214; map ref. 187460/648250; Fig. 1), after antiquities were damaged. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Board of Trustees of the Muslim Wakf of Ramla, was directed by G. Itach (photography), with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), N. Zak (plans), A. Dagot (GPS), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), H. Torgë (pottery reading), A. Gorzalczany (scientific consultation), A. Shadman and A. 'Azab (IAA Central District).
In the current excavation a single square was opened, and several well-preserved plaster floors and a fragment of a wall were uncovered. Two–three strata dating to the Abbasid period (second half of the eighth century–early tenth century CE; Fig. 2) were identified.
The earliest stratum consisted of remains of a plaster floor (F106) set on a foundation of small and medium stones, with crushed, light yellow material in between (L107). Part of the floor foundation was dismantled, and light brown sandy soil devoid of pottery sherds was excavated below it. In Floor 106 at least four phases of plaster repairs with small river pebbles and gray-brown mortar were discerned (Fig. 3). Body fragments of several pottery vessels dating to the Abbasid period and a krater rim (L105 – Fig. 4:1) were recovered from the fill above the floor (thickness 0.3 m). Another plaster floor (F104) above that fill should be ascribed to a later stratum. The quality of its foundation was not as good and did not include any plaster repairs (Fig. 5). The accumulation (L102) above Floor 104 was a light brown color and several sherds were found in it, among them a glazed bowl (Fig. 4:2) and a jug handle (Fig. 4:6), both from the Abbasid period. In the top soil (L101) overlying this stratum were two jars (Fig. 4:3, 4) and a jug (Fig. 4:5) dating to the Late Abbasid period, with no architectural remains. A fragment of a wall (W103) built on top of the accumulation (L102) may belong to yet another stratum that could not be defined with certainty.
The construction of the White Mosque is attributed to Suleiman ibn ‘Abd al-Malik and dated to the beginning of the eighth century CE. No strata or remains could be dated to this period in excavations that were conducted in the mosque (Rosen-Ayalon 2008; see references and discussion therein). No Umayyad-period stratum was found in the current excavation either, although it reached the natural sand of the city.
Kaplan J. 1957. Excavations at the White Mosque in Ramla. ‘Atiqot 2:96–104 (Hebrew).
Rosen-Ayalon M. 2008. On the History of the White Mosque. Qadmoniot 135:51–55 (Hebrew).
Toueg R. 2014. Ramla, Shimshon Ha-Gibor Street. HA-ESI 126.