The Western Squares. The two western squares, opened near the northwestern corner of the Pool, yielded a segment of a deep drainage channel (L107; length 0.4 m, depth 0.8 m; Fig. 4). The channel extends westward, beyond the excavation area; its continuation to the east did not survive. The channel was dug into a layer of sand, and it was lined with small fieldstones held together well with bonding material and coated with hydraulic plaster. Its floor consisted of a thin layer of plaster set on earthen fill; this fill was in turn set above the layer of sand into which the channel was dug. A large, coarsely dressed covering stone was found at the western end of the channel (Fig. 3: Section 2–2); the rest of the covering stones were not preserved. Black earth rich in organic materials filled the channel and blocked it. The foundation trench (L117) of the channel was found; it too was dug into the layer of sand.
As Channel 107 was found below the level of the previously discovered feeder channel of the Pool the Arches (Toueg and Arnon 2018), it seems correct to conclude that was not a feeder channel for drinking water, but rather a drainage channel—part of the municipal water distribution system. Nevertheless, only a comprehensive examination, one that was not possible in this excavation, will allow us to arrive at a final conclusion.
The earthen fill within Channel 107 yielded a bowl coated in green, yellow and cream glaze from the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 5:1), a bowl from the tenth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 5:3) and a jar from the tenth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 5:15), as well as a shekel coin dated 1980/81; Foundation Trench 117 yielded a krater from the Early Islamic period (Fig. 5:9); and a mangir coin from the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Murat III (1546–1595 CE; IAA 168229) was discovered on the surface in the western part of the excavation (L101; Basket 1008).
The Eastern Squares. Only meager remains were uncovered in the two eastern squares of the excavation; these seem to be the remains of a dwelling’s interior courtyard, featuring floors and a cistern. Portions of a plaster floor (L108, L110; Fig. 6) were found in the eastern part of the courtyard, and a cistern (L104; diam. c. 3 m; Fig. 7) was unearthed in the western part of the courtyard. Cistern 104 was dug into sandy soil, lined with gray hydraulic plaster and roofed with a dome. The cistern was excavated to a depth of 1.6 m, without reaching its floor. It was fed by a clay pipe incorporated into the northern part of the dome, and from a square settling basin (L112) that was built c. 1 northeast of the cistern. The water apparently flowed from the settling basin to the cistern via a clay pipe that was incorporated into the cistern’s wall, but it was not preserved. Abutting the cistern was a crushed limestone floor (L113; Fig. 3: Section 1–1), which was laid above the cistern’s domed roof. During the cistern’s last period of use, Floor 113 was replaced by a new crushed limestone floor (L116) set above it.
Floors 113 and 116 and the fills below them yielded pottery from the Abbasid period. The fill within the cistern yielded a copper fals dating from the reign of the last Abbasid caliph, Harun el-Rashid (786–809 CE; IAA 168230), a fragment of plaster with a red fresco, a fragment of a marble tablet and pottery from the Abbasid period. The Abbasid-period vessels included a bowl from the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 5:2); two bowls from the ninth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 5:4, 5); a bowl from the ninth–tenth centuries CE, coated with alkaline yellow glaze on the upper part of the interior and green glaze on the lower part, decorated in sgrafitto (Fig. 5:6); an imitation Late Fine Byzantine Ware bowl bearing a decorative design in black from the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 5:7); jars from the ninth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 5:13, 14); a flask (Fig. 5:16); an Umayyad oil lamp from the seventh–eighth centuries CE (Fig. 5:18); and two oil lamps from the eighth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 5:19). In the excavation of the cistern’s foundation trench (L106), an imitation Late Fine Byzantine Ware bowl was found, decorated with black paint, dating to the ninth–tenth centuries CE (Fig. 5:8) and a jar from the ninth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 5:12). In the excavation of the earthen fill east of the cistern (L111) were a jar from the late eighth century CE (Fig. 5:10), a jar from the eighth–ninth centuries CE (Fig. 5:11) and an alkaline-glazed chamber pot from tenth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 5:17). On the surface in the eastern part of the excavation (L105; Basket 1021) was a fals from the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Al-Mansur Abu Bakr (1341 CE; IAA 168231).
The Glass Vessels
Approximately 160 rather well-preserved glass fragments were discovered in the excavation, about one third of which are diagnostic. Most of the glass fragments were found in Loci 104 and 105; a few were found in Loci 101 and 107. The rich assemblage includes bowls and bowls/beakers (Fig. 8), as well as bottles and jugs (Fig. 9), some of which were decorated in a variety of methods. Most of the vessels were made of greenish blue glass; a few were made of colorless glass (Fig. 8:10), dark bluish green glass (Fig 9:9) or glass of varying shades of green (Figs. 8:5, 9; 9:8). Most of the vessels are characteristic of the Umayyad period, and some (mostly from Loci 105 and 107) are typical of the Abbasid period as well. Similar finds have been unearthed at other excavations in Ramla (for references to those, see the find tables, which also include references to several vessels from Bet She’an).
The bowls typical of the Umayyad period include one with an outfolded rim (Fig. 8:1) and a hollow ring base (Fig. 8:2) the likes of which may have supported this bowl; two bowls/beakers (Fig. 8:3, 4), one of which (Fig. 8:4) is adorned with a brown trail wound around and below the rim, and a pushed-in base (Fig. 8:5), typical of such bowls/beakers; a bowl decorated with a wound trail (Fig. 8:6); and a bowl adorned with thick vertical ribs (Fig. 8:7).
The bowls typical of the Abbasid period include a bowl with a thickened, flaring rim (Fig. 8:8); a bowl decorated with tonging (Fig. 8:9)—a technique that appeared in the Umayyad period and became widespread in the Abbasid period; and a bowl adorned with a mold-blown geometric pattern (Fig. 8:10).
The closed vessels typical of the Umayyad period include a bottle or jar with an infolded rim (Fig. 9:1); bottles or jugs decorated on the mouth or neck with either a thin trail (Fig. 9:2) or a thick, wavy trail (Fig. 9:3–5); two bottles with an interior horizontal hollow fold at the shoulder or the neck (Fig. 9:6, 7); and a vessel adorned with horizontal pinches (Fig. 9:8).
The closed vessels typical of the Abbasid period include one (a bottle or jar) with a thick wall and a funnel-shaped mouth or neck (Fig. 9:9); bottles with a rounded rim (Fig. 9:10, 11), one of which has a sack-shaped body (Fig. 9:11); and a bottle whose neck is decorated with horizontal ridges (Fig. 9:12).
Summary. The excavation revealed remains of floors and a cistern, which were apparently part of an interior courtyard of a structure, as well as a drainage channel. The fragment of plaster bearing red fresco and the marble fragment found in the cistern may have originated in a structure near the courtyard, which did not survive, and may reveal that its owners were affluent. The main pottery finds are dated to the Abbasid period (early tenth century CE); a coin found in the cistern was dated to the time of the Abbasid Sultan Haroun al-Rashid (786–809 CE). Among the finds were also a few fragments of pottery from the Umayyad and Fatimid periods (not drawn). The glass assemblage is dated to the Umayyad and Abbasid periods. A few pottery fragments were discovered on the surface, as were two coins, one from the Mamluk period and the other from the Ottoman period. Based on the finds in the excavation, the remains should apparently be dated to the Abbasid period, with the end of use apparently at the beginning of the Fatimid period. Past excavations at the Pool of the Arches revealed that the water supply to the pool ceased at the beginning of the tenth century CE (Toueg and Arnon 2010; Toueg and Arnon 2018), the same time period in which the remains uncovered in the current excavation went out of use. The reason for this may have been associated with the cessation of the water supply to the area at the beginning of the tenth century CE, perhaps because the main aqueduct to Ramla went out of use (Gorzalczany 2005; Gorzalczany 2008; 2011).