During our fourth week, the Domestic Area team led by Inge Uytterhoeven and Ine Jacobs proceeded with the excavation on the northern terrace. They cleared the soil and rubble above and inside room XLVI, on the eastern side of the new courtyard XLV (see Domestic Area, July 17-21 and July 24-28, 2005). While removing the destruction material, mainly large limestone rubble, they unearthed in the eastern profile of the trench part of a collapsed wall with a length (originally the height) of approximately 2.80 m. Its construction technique--alternating limestone rubble in mortar and courses of bricks--is similar to that of the neighboring "official" rooms XLIV and XXXI (excavated last year) and of the large reception room XXII south of them, vestibules XVII and XXXIV, and the monumental staircase XXXVI, which we will further clear later this campaign. After a comparison with the known heights of room XLIV, of which the walls are preserved up to 4 m, it even seems likely that the walls in the northern part of the edifice reached around 7 m! These rooms were all built at the occasion of the same enlargement phase of the palatial mansion, which could be dated to the fourth century A.D. (see Domestic Area, July 10-14, 2005). It thus seems that the construction activities in this period were even more elaborate and further extending toward the north than previously assumed. The west wall of room XLVI is built against and does not intersect with the northwest corner of corridor XXXVI with its monumental staircase, but its building technology again is completely identical with that of the above mentioned "official" quarters of the mansion. Moreover, the arcade between the monumental staircase and courtyard XLV clearly shows that both spaces were part of the same architectural unit.
In the south wall of room XLVI, at about 1 m above the sill in the (west) wall separating it from the courtyard, there was a series of beam holes, superseded by the spring of a brick vault with a north-south orientation, forming the ceiling of this room. That this spring does intersect with the wall separating rooms XLVI and XLIV, offers other undeniable evidence that both rooms were part of the same building phase. However, it is more likely that the elaborate opening discovered last week in the west wall of room XLVI was not a door but a window opening on courtyard XLV. The presence of a window is also better understandable in relation to the level of the brick arches of the eastern and southern arcades bordering the courtyard (see Domestic Area, July 17-21). The real entrance to room XLVI may be in the unexcavated space below the courtyard's eastern arcade. In upcoming weeks, we will further investigate the exact relationship of room XLVI and courtyard XLV.
Excavating in this part of the house also means, because of the height of the standing walls and the different floor levels of adjoining spaces, one constantly has to build or change the position of bridges for hauling out the earth and stones, or to protect the unstable profiles of the trenches by building walls of reused brick against them.