This week, Marc Waelkens studied the various wall sections as well as the arcades of this eastern interior courtyard of the large palatial mansion. The mansion was in use from middle Imperial to early Byzantine times, and Waelkens' study revealed at least eight different building phases. The larger paved courtyard to the west (XIII, see plan) probably extended farther east than it does today, to where an arcade corresponding with the location of the courtyard's XXV current west wall bordered it. The piers of this arcade were composed of alternating rows of brick and tuffo blocks. This arcade's back wall was then formed by a southern extension of the east wall of vaulted room XXVIII, which, along with its north wall, are built in the same technique as the one used for the older piers. The construction may correspond with one of the oldest phases of the villa complex. At a later stage, the eastern arcade of courtyard XIII was transformed into a second courtyard (the current XXV) of smaller dimensions than the western one. A new arcade was built along the new courtyard's eastern, western and southern edges and even continued to the south of courtyard XIII. The arcade was composed of brick piers and arches throughout and rested on a limestone base Thus the villa obtained two, not one, inner courtyards that were surrounded by brick arcades. The piers of the new arcade separated the courtyards. The piers were not completely freestanding, but were connected by a low wall that incorporated the lower part of the original eastern arcade's piers. The exact date of this transformation has not yet be established, but during early Byzantine times all arcades were walled up and subdivided into various rooms.
We continued to excavate east of and possibly also inside room XXXI (see plan) in order to establish the northeastern corner of the mansion. Work was undertaken in the one (or two rooms) to the west of the large late antique reception hall on the second terrace of the house. The seventh-century A.D. earthquake, which had destroyed the house (by then perhaps already largely, if not completely, abandoned), resulted in an infilling with destruction debris and erosion material. Eventually it was covered by several meters of rubble. The removal of this enormous amount of material has already taken us several days. It will probably be our main activity for the week to come as well. This week we also exposed the foundation wall of a second house lying upslope and immediately east of the palatial mansion's reception hall. It crosses the sectors that we are excavating and continues north. We suspect that we are on top of the east wall of our room and expect to uncover it in the beginning of next week. We also hope to find the northern wall of the complex in our sectors, but there is no indication that it will be located there.
See also Restoration, July 11-15, for the mosaics of the vestibule and waiting lounge.