No floor was preserved in the courtyard, which contained a round cistern (L101; Figs. 1, 2) with two identifiable phases. The walls of the cistern were built of well-dressed stone slabs and it had a square, ashlar-built, opening. A water-feeding system consisting of a settling pit (L104; Fig. 3) and a built channel (L107) was exposed to the west. In the first phase, water apparently flowed from the channel to the cistern through a feeder pipe that was incorporated in the opening of the cistern; in the second phase, the opening of the cistern was raised, and the sloppy construction severed the feeder channel, which was no longer in use. No substitute channel that conveyed water to the cistern was found, possibly it was not preserved. A fill (L108) north of the channel yielded fragments of a basin (Fig. 4:1) dating to the Early Islamic period, a FBW bowl (Fig. 4:3) from the eighth–ninth centuries CE and the upper part of a lamp (Fig. 5:1) from the Fatimid period. In the southern part of the excavation, remains of a round cesspit (L109) were exposed, and a fragment of a zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 5:2) was found in it. A thick ashlar wall (W106) was revealed slightly south of the cistern. A single stone was preserved at the western end of the wall, perpendicular to its northern side. A single ashlar, from another wall (W105), was exposed next to the western side of the settling pit. The quality of the construction of W105 was identical to that of W106; however, its excavation was not completed. Three courses of ashlars were exposed in a probe (L111) next to the southern side of W106, but their excavation was also not completed. A jug-handle (Fig. 4:14) dating to the tenth–eleventh centuries, was found in the fill in the probe. It seems that the two walls perpendicular to W106 delimited a room that was situated west of the courtyard.
A jug-handle dating to the tenth–eleventh centuries CE (Fig. 4:13), was discovered in an accumulation below the surface level (L103), in the southwestern corner of the excavation. The pottery in the top soil (L102), included a yellow-on-brown glazed Sgrafitto bowl (Fig. 4:2) that dates to the Mamluk period. The pottery ascribed to the Fatimid period included fragments of a Gold Luster bowl (Fig. 4:4) imported from Egypt, a glazed bowl (Fig. 4:5), cooking pots (Fig. 4:6, 7) a mold-made buff-ware jug (Fig. 4:8) and a mold-made jug (Fig. 4:12). Other vessels that were found, were in use throughout the Early Islamic period. They included fragments of a zir jar (Fig. 4:9), a mold-made jar (Fig. 4:10) and a jug (Fig. 4:11). Fragments of a carved steatite incense burner (Fig. 6) were found in the fill that blocked the feeder channel. The incense burner is square, with ribbed sides, and had feet on all four corners, but only the two front ones were preserved. The pan also has a short handle with traces of burning.
Yael Gorin-Rosen
Five glass vessels that date to the ninth–eleventh centuries CE were found. The types are familiar and quite common in excavations at Ramla. A jar (Fig. 7:3) and a bottle (Fig. 7:5) were discovered in the material accumulated on the surface (L102). The jar is made of light-bluish-green glass, the surface is pitted, and covered with silverish-black weathering and sandy encrustation. It has broad everted rim, practically no neck, and sloping shoulder. Jars of this type first appeared in the Abbasid period and remained in use, in a range of sizes, in later periods. The bottle is large and made of colorless glass. The surface is pitted, covered with silverish-black weathering and sandy encrustation. It was carelessly crafted and is asymmetrical. It has long funnel-neck, with an open fold protruding at its base, and fire-rounded rim. This type of bottle first appeared in the Abbasid period, continued into the Fatimid period, and with variations until the Mamluk period. It remained in use also in the Ottoman period, with changes in the composition and treatment of the glass. The bottle that was found in the excavation represents the early style of the type, and similar examples were discovered in excavations nearby (e.g., Gorin-Rosen 2010a:238–239, Pl. 10.6:20; and additional references cited therein).
A bowl (Fig. 7:1) and a bottle (Fig. 7:4) were found in the accumulation beneath the surface level (L103). The bowl is deep and cylindrical, with upright fire-rounded rim and thin wall. The glass is a greenish-blue, and covered with a layer of hard silverish-black weathering and pitting. The type is very characteristic of the Abbasid period. Similar bowl was found in a previous excavation in Ramla (Gorin-Rosen 2010b: Fig. 22:1). The bottle is small, its rim and neck were cut and carved to form an octagonal section. The glass is colorless and the bottle was covered with a thick layer of silverish-black weathering, which was removed. The fabric, the treatment and the decoration are typical of the Abbasid and Fatimid periods. The base of a similarly made hexagonal bottle was found in another excavation in Ramla (Gorin-Rosen 2010b: Fig. 22:9).
A bowl (Fig. 7:2) was recovered from inside the cesspit (L109). The edge of the rim is drawn out to form a short ledge. The vessel has a cylindrical body and dates to the Abbasid period and the beginning of the Fatimid period. The glass is colorless, with a yellowish tinge and purplish vein running through it, and was covered with silverish-black weathering that was removed. Similar bowls were discovered in a nearby excavation (Winter 2013: Fig. 16:1).
The group of vessels represents locally manufactured domestic ware: bowls, bottles and jars, as well as one decorated bottle that probably held perfume. In the past researchers were inclined to attribute bottles with cut and carved decoration to one of the workshops in Egypt or Syria, but in light of their broad distribution in Early Islamic sites in Israel, it can be assumed that they too were made in workshops in the region and not imported from afar.
The remains exposed in the excavation date to the Fatimid period. The excavation results supplement previous information regarding the water supply to residential buildings in the city of Ramla in the Fatimid period. The cisterns that were exposed in Ramla in general, and in this area in particular, confirm information from historical sources, that the water supply throughout Ramla during the Fatimid period was based on private cisterns. Pottery vessels dating to the Mamluk period were collected but no architectural remains were discovered.