In September 2007, a salvage excavation was conducted at Zerifin (Sarafand al-‘Amar; Permit No. A-5248; map ref. 186070/651790; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a gas station. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the S. Hamami Company, was directed by A. Kohn-Tavor, with the assistance of S. Gendler (area preparation), S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), T. Sagiv (field photography), T. Meltsen and R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), L. Yihya (GPS), M. Avissar (ceramics), R. Gat (pottery restoration) and I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing).
Two excavation squares (K1, K2; Figs. 2, 3) were opened, and remains of a building from the Abbasid period (ninth century CE) were found. The building extended beyond the limits of the excavation. Parts of four or five rooms (Fig. 2:I–V), possibly of a building with a courtyard, were documented. The walls were aligned according to the cardinal points of the compass. Similar structures were found within the village itself.
The walls were built of small fieldstones, incorporating a few small ashlars (preserved height above the floors 0.3–0.4 m). Mud with occasional addition of light plaster was used as mortar. Because of the difficulty in distinguishing the tamped earth floors in the rooms they were identified by correlation with the elevation at the base of the walls. The floor of the courtyard (Fig. 2:V) was sealed with light plaster that was partially preserved. The building is quite modest compared with buildings that were excavated inside the village, which were mainly built of large ashlars, pointed with mortar.
Five storage jars were found in the building, some of them used as installations (Fig. 4:15), as well as several fragments of antilya jars from the Early Islamic period. The ceramic assemblage dates to the Abbasid period (ninth century CE, see appendix). The building was apparently abandoned, and the stones were robbed or disappeared in the course of later agricultural activity. Planting pits of a later orchard caused further damage. Since its abandonment, the building was covered by a layer of soil about a meter thick. The soil in the excavation area was gray alluvium, typical of the Lod Valley, and was used to raise crops. In contrast, the natural earth in the village, which was discovered in a probe at a depth of c. 2 m, is a sandy hamra.
This is the first residential building that was excavated outside the limits of Zerifin village. Construction outside the boundaries of the village in the Abbasid period indicates the stronger position of the village once the city of Ramla was founded nearby. Other evidence of growth during this period was found in the other excavation areas. The antilya jars reflect the first use of the nearby well in the Early Islamic period, possibly already at its beginning, in the Umayyad period.