Located approximately half a mile northwest of the city, the Cistern at Ramla (Bir al-'Aneziya) is the only remnant from the 'Abbasid period still extant in Palestine. According to a Kufic inscription it was commissioned by the Caliph Harun ar-Rashid in the late 8th century. It was constructed in stone layers with the entire interior wall plastered in a thick cement finish. Rectangular in plan, the cistern is organized into six aisles that extend east to west divided by arcades each containing four porticoes. The chamber of the cistern rises to a height of eight meters and a staircase stretches to its floor on the north side. Multiple users could obtain water with buckets and ropes from the cistern through a succession of openings measuring about 55 square-centimeters. The cistern is divided into individual vaulted bays out of which these holes were incised. The cistern at Ramla provides the earliest historical instance of the strategic use of self-supporting pointed arches.
Creswell, K. A. C. A Short Account of Early Muslim Architecture, 284-285. Rev. ed. Allan, James W. Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1989.
Ettinghausen, Richard and Grabar, Oleg. The Art and Architecture of Islam 650-1250, 82. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987.