Islamic Tombstones Reused during the Early Islamic Period from Ramla, Capital of Jund Filastīn

Amir Gorzalczany, Hagit Torgë

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In different excavations in Ramla, fragmented Muslim tombstones were uncovered in secondary use, providing a terminus post quem in the mid or late 10th-century AD for their reuse. As showed by the ceramic evidence, the time elapsed between the last interments and the reusing of the tombstones stones as building material was at the most 70 years. Reusing of tombstones is a common archeological occurrence. In most cases, the reutilizing is carried out after a time enough to cut the emotional link between the burial and the builders, or when an ethnical replacement occurred, and new dwellers had no emotional relationship with the previous ones. The phenomenon in Ramla is then an exception. What were the circumstances that led to such an unusual comportment? One possible explanation is the occurrence of a traumatic event, such an earthquake. Following the dates on the stones, it is evident that the event could have occurred only after 961 AD. This could fit the tremor in 1033 AD, two generations after the erection of the tombstones. As for the lifespan of the reconstruction layers, the pottery assemblages related to them, show ceramic types diagnostic to the Fatimid period, not in use in the Crusader period. This, together with the simultaneous abandonment of sites in the city, suggest that the destruction of the reconstruction strata was caused by another catastrophic event, perhaps the 1068 AD tremor. If so, we have a hatch to a well-defined period, limited by two powerful natural catastrophes, that provide termini ante and post quem for the ephemeral reconstruction of the city.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-156
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Islamic Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Ramla
  • cemeteries
  • earthquakes
  • epitaphs
  • reused tombstones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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