Ramla in the Ottoman period:
The longest reigning regime in the History of the Land of Israel under one dynasty began in 1516. Even though the Ottoman spoke Turkish – a language foreign to the inhabitants of the Land Israel – there was no religious or culture gap between the Ottoman and the dynasties that ruled the Land of Israel before them – the Mamluks, since like them they chose to follow the Sunni tradition in Islam.
In the first on hundred years of their rule, the Ottomans conducted an administration that was regular and orderly throughout the empire.
They brought security and prosperity to all its inhabitants in the field of trade' agriculture and craftsmanship. Beginning with the end of the 16th century and during the 17th century the weakening of the empire became evident in all the areas of life in the land. Slowly but surely might Europe began to take greater interest in the Land of Israel, especially in the sites sacred to Christians. Napoleon's expedition to the Land of Israel in 1799 was undertaken during a time that was a crucial juncture in the annals of the Middle East. It help open the way for the penetration of western modernization into the land of Israel.
At the beginning of the 16th century Ramla was large and important settlement. On a Turkish map from 1512 in the notation on the coast in place of Jaffa there appeared the name "The Pot of Ramla". In 1546 Ramla was almost completely destroyed by a strong earthquake. Ramla did not return to its grandeur for many years after this disaster. Pilgrims that passed through Ramla on their way to Jerusalem mentioned the poor state of the city during this period.
From the accounts of historians there were by then in the city communities of Jews, Christian, Moslems, and European traders. One of them, A.Dapper wrote:" Ramla if highly populated and living there are Arabs, Turks, Greeks, Maronits, Christian, and Jews. The trade in the city is vast because the trade caravans from Syria to Egypt must go through the city. For the merchants and for the convince of the traveler there are two inns. The market there is built with smooth square stones and is divided into streets and alleys. Every week there is a fair to which many people come from Samaria and Jews as well."
Surveys and cartography during the 19th century
In 1865 in London was convened the first public assembly that called for the establishment of the foundation for researches of the Land of Israel, known as the Palestine Exploration Fund. Its purpose was to do research in the following fields: "Archaeology, Geography, Geology, and Nature of the Holy Land". The PEF's emblem that appeared on the first publication illustrated the method of how surveys and cartography were carried out in the 19th century: with triangulation points and a theodolite apparate.
From the beginning the society was granted a board range of public support. Queen Victoria granted her patronage and for its council of trustees she appointed trustworthy Dukes, and high-ranking people from all the different denominations. Among them the Jews were also represented. As a result of the success of the first survey expeditions it was the reaction of a precise cartographic survey of Israel.
The mission started its undertaking in 1871 and was subordinated to the British war ministry and to Association of the Palestine Exploration Found. The assistance of the British government in this operation matched the imperial interests because it was mapping the area adjacent to the indispensable region of the Suez Canal, meeting an enormous strategic importance.
The members of the expedition and at their head captain Stewart, landed in the port of Jaffa. They had in their hands field papers which were prepared in England. In the beginning of their project they opened a network of triangulation with the baseline in the plain of Ramla. This network was connected to the already existing base in Jaffa, which was laid down by the British Admirality.
The survey members Conder and kitcherner reached Ramla and documented the White Mosque, the tower of the forty martyrs and the subterranean pools. They record in their letters two inscription of marble which they found in the mosque – one of the ruler Baibars of the 13th century, which possibly is situated today in the big mosque, and the second of the Mameluk Sultan Mohammad ibn Qala'un of the 14th century, which now is to be found above the lintel of the entrance gate of the tower.
Daily life in the Ottoman Era
Ottoman rule over remnants of Byzantine Empire created waves of flight and migration of artisans and workmen to Christian Europe. At that time Europe was at the height of the flourishing period known as the Renaissance that brought rapid technological and scientific development to all the realms of life in the big cities. However at that same time the Middle East was in a conservative era.
The main industry in the Land of Israel at the time was the weaving of wool which was exported to the countries of Europe. However the principal value of this industry declined in the seventeenth century in the wake of the fast development of the wool industry in France and England. The other industries workshops that manufactured metal vessels, clay vessels, and glass and daily items continued to fill the demand of residents of the cities and their customers. The style of these vessels continued to make use in many ways the local style that was developed in the Muslim Era. The style of luxury items made for the local rulers nevertheless were influenced by the spirit of the Asiatic art was found in the courtyards of the Ottoman authorities.
In the Ottoman period in the big cities they built public bathhouses that had a distribution system for heating the water for bathing. In the heart of the old city of Ramla they built a public bathhouse to accommodate the inhabitants of the city. The bathhouse was known by the name of Hamam al-Radwan – perhaps called that as a reference to the mythical angel who according to the Moslems guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden and opened its gates for the righteous.
The beginning of the modern period
Into the eighteen century Ramla continued to serve as an important way station for the many pilgrims that came to visit the Holy Land. In the city they built Khans to house the transient guests and their animals. The Khan of Al-Azam in Ramla hosted within its walls the many merchants who passed through the city during northern force the Kiryati forces and the Alexandroni forces fought. At the conclusion of the first stage of fighting, the Jewish settlement Ben Shemen was liberated of several months of siege. After both forces met in Ben Shemen the second operation started.
at the head of the column moved "Haman Hanoraii" an armored car with a turret and a cannon that belonged to the Arab Legion and fell at the hands of the IDF fighters. Following him moved armed personnel carrier and Jeeps. The armed car passed through the roads of Lod and reached the entrances to Ramla. The successful incursion that lasted less than an hour definitely quashed any remaining resistance of the forces of the legion. The next day on July 12, 1948 the surrender agreement was signed between the representatives of the city of Ramla and the officers of the IDF at nearby Kibbutz Naan.