Domestic Area: July 16-27, 2006
During the second and third weeks of the campaign, the Domestic Area team, under the direction of Inge Uytterhoeven and Rob Rens of K. U. Leuven and Sevgi Gerçek of Istanbul University, continued the excavation of the large room XLVI, which belongs to the representative wing in the northern part of the mansion. It actually consists of an apsidal upper room (Room L) supported by a vaulted room with identical outer dimensions below (labeled Room XLVI). The mosaic floor fragments recovered last year and last week in this area (see Domestic Area, July 10-13, 2006) were parts of the upper apsidal room's floor. In an area of approximately 80 m2, rubble and brick material from the gradual collapse of the building were removed, which allowed us to excavate the northern, eastern, and southern walls of the room.
On the first day of the second week of the excavations, we exposed a NW-SE wall that appeared to be blocking the east apse of the room that was discovered the first week. Over the next few days, it became clear that this wall, which is more than six meters long, formed the east wall of room XLVI below (excavated height: approximately three meters), whereas only Room L on the upper floor had an apse to the east. As a result, both Room L and Room XLVI, which are accessible from the atrium (Room XLV), must have functioned as the reception rooms or dining halls of the house, where the owner officially received his clients and guests. In order to construct the apse on top of the rectangular room, the lower part of the apse was interwoven with a vault that covered Room XLVI and thus formed the base for the mosaic on the upper floor (Room L). A small section of the vault was still attached to the upper part of Room XLVI's back wall along the apse of Room L. This vault (maximum preserved height: 2.50 meters; width: 0.35 meters), was constructed of regular tuff blocks resting on a spring in brick layers, in which beam holes (see Domestic Area, July 10-13, 2006) were placed. Since the tuff blocks had collapsed just below the northern edge of the apse, the apsidal rubble wall on top of it (maximum preserved height: 1.50 meters) had deteriorated greatly and was on the verge of collapsing. Our conservation team was pressed into action, and with their efficiency and skill managed to save the important structure, which is a testament to the mansion's importance as both a public and private space.
The conservation team (Esra left and Selçuk Bey right) fixing the mosaic ledge
With the help of the conservation team of Ebru Torun, Selçuk Sener, Bekir Eskici, Mehmet Koyutuerk and Göze Üner, and safety manager Luc Karremans, who together supported the rubble wall, we were first able to dig a prospection trench under the apse in order to find the vault's spring at a lower level. In spite of the well-preserved lower part of the vault, continuing the excavation under the apsidal wall remained very dangerous. Thus, for safety reasons, it was decided to support the apse with a solid rubble wall and leave the northeast corner of Room XLVI unexcavated. Instead, we will try to reach the floor level, which is still located four meters below the actual excavation level in the rest of the room. After the northwest corner of the room was exposed last Thursday, we now know the exact dimensions of Room XLVI: it is 11.30 meters long and 6.92 meters wide, and had a six meter-high vault. Its opulent original decoration must have made it one of the most impressive spaces in the whole complex.
To the north of Room XVLI and to the east of Room IL we identified another room, Room LI. Similar to Room XLVI, Room LI also had a vault of tuff blocks that was still partly preserved in its southeast corner. Since we will concentrate on Room XLVI during this campaign, we stopped the excavation of Room LI.