Artifacts Associated with the Chemical Arts in the Early Islamic Period in Ramla, Israel


  • Amir Gorzalczany Israel Antiquities Authority
  • Baruch Rosen Israel Antiquities Authority



alchemy, Ramla, bathhouse, apparatus, workshop, perfume


Archaeological excavations in Ramla, Jund Filastin capital during the early Islamic period, discovered in a zone of artisans and workshops, a unique complex of built and dug installations. It included barely known and understood components of a proto-chemical toolkit. The finds included an abundance of small, decorated bottles previously identified as perfume containers. Additional small finds of a proto-chemistry toolkit included e.g., bronze pipettes, delicate bronze pestles and weights. The complex is to be associated with the existence of a facility differing from an alchemist studio-laboratory. It involved the commercial, non-artisan, pre-industrial production of perfumes and aromatic oils associated with body care chemistry. The close proximity to a Hammam (bathhouse) is notable. Suitable comparisons were found throughout the Mediterranean Basin, from Spain, where comparable tool kits in close proximity to Hammams were discovered, to Russia, where similar technology and typology were documented. The article discusses the importance of the dictates of the Qur’an and Mohammedan traditions regarding purification of the body and their catalytic influence on social and early technological changes in a pre-industrial society.

Author Biographies

  • Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority

    Dr. Amir Gorzalczany is an archaeologist and researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority, specializing in classical and Islamic archaeology. His excavations include the Chalcolithic cemetery at Palmahim, as well as extensive projects in and around Ramla, including the aqueduct that supplied the city and sites such Sarafand el-Khareb, Tel Michal and Tel el-Hashash. He is in charge of the excavation of the Lod Mosaic. He has published articles in journals such as Atiqot, Antiguo Oriente, Levant, Paleorient, JMR, JIA and JESHO and is a staff member in the “In Centro” book series. He held the position of District Archaeologist of Tel Aviv, is member of the Center for Historical Studies of the Ancient Near East (CEHAO) at the Catholic University of Argentina and lecturer at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He is currently Head of the Scientific Evaluation Branch at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

  • Baruch Rosen, Israel Antiquities Authority

    Dr. Baruch Rosen received his BSc in Fisheries from the University of Washington in Seattle and a PhD in Science from North Carolina State University. He taught courses in Food and Agriculture sciences at the Faculty of Agriculture, Hebrew University at Rehovot and taught courses in subsistence archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, Tel-Aviv University. He is retired and now is at the Israel Antiquities Authority working as an archaeologist and historian of material cultures. His research interests and publications include food science in general, food microbiology, food in antiquity, ancient and traditional subsistence systems and general marine archaeology.


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How to Cite

Gorzalczany, A., & Rosen, B. (2024). Artifacts Associated with the Chemical Arts in the Early Islamic Period in Ramla, Israel. Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 10(2), 145-174.