In July 2015, a salvage excavation was conducted at 9 Ovadia Somakh Street in Ramla (Permit No. A-7463; map ref. 187736–56/647949–63), prior to enlarging a building. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by Alturi Mahmed, was directed by J. Marcus, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), R. Toueg (preliminary inspections), A. Dagot (GPS), M. Kahan (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), H. Torgë (pottery) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
The cistern had a square opening (L100; Figs. 2, 3) built of ashlars bonded with gray mortar composed of crushed chalk, charcoal and straw. Remains of gray plaster were apparent on the inner corners of the opening. A neatly dressed stone, which was preserved in its entirety, was used to cover the cistern; it had two notches at the ends in order to completely seal the installation. A partly preserved floor (L106) built of tamped earth and plaster fragments abutted the cistern’s opening. The cistern (diam. 3–4 m, exposed depth c. 4.5 m; Figs. 2: Section 1–1; 4) was bell-shaped. Its interior was not excavated for safety reasons, but it was possible to discern that the walls were treated with plaster. Two of the cistern’s outer walls were exposed in trial trenches: the curved northern wall (L105) that descended at an angle below the opening, and the southern wall (L103) that had a step (width c. 0.25 m) built perpendicular to the cistern’s opening. The latter curved below the step. A feeder pipe built of terra-cotta sections that led down into the cistern’s interior was set into the southern wall.
A section of a wall (W109) built of ashlars bonded with gray mortar was unearthed northeast of the cistern. A wall’s robber trench (L107), which contained pottery sherds, plaster, fieldstones and dressed stones of various sizes was discerned in the western balk of the square.
Sherds from the Fatimid period (tenth–eleventh centuries CE; Fig. 5) were found throughout the excavated area. These included two cooking pots (Fig. 5:1, 2), a jar (Fig. 5:3), a jug with a knife-cut decoration (Fig. 5:4) and a pipe (Fig. 5:5); these finds date the excavated remains. The sherds are characteristic of residential quarters, suggesting that the area was part of Ramla’s urban sequence during the Abbasid and Fatimid periods.