The Urban Mansion: July 15-26, 2007
During the second and third weeks, the team under the direction of Inge Uytterhoeven (K.U.Leuven), Sevgi Gercek (Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi), and Rob Rens (K.U.Leuven) continued excavating the large mansion on the fifth and--thus far--uppermost terrace, which was newly identified in the first week.
After removal of the erosion material of Layers 1 and 2 and of a third layer of destruction material (mainly large rubble and architectural fragments from the walls), we partly excavated three new rooms, all having walls in mortared rubble with the insertion of large ashlars at the corners. Immediately east of polygonal Room IL (see Urban Mansion, July 8-13, 2007), we identified another polygonal room whose East wall is formed by the bedrock flanking the Domestic Area in this direction (Room LII; excavated length 5.4 m (N)/2.84 m (S); width 2.85 m). The material that collapsed from its west wall was left in situ and will be investigated in the future, when the whole northern part of the room will be excavated. The triangular Room LIV that we identified southeast of Room LII was also not yet excavated up to the--probably lost--floor level (excavated part: 2.8 x 1.2 x 1.9 m). On the other hand, in Corridor LIII, located to the south of Room LII, we recognized the mortared floor level, as well as its mortared-rubble substratum (excavated length 2.8 m; width 1.9 m). This corridor leads from polygonal Room IL in an eastern direction and bends at the northeast corner of apsidal Room L towards the South. However, future excavations are needed to reveal the end of the corridor. The urban mansion thus has become more and more a real palace, with complicated rooms made possible by the use of Roman concrete, as for instance in the Domus Flavia on the Palatine at Rome, Nero's Domus Aurea, the villa Hadriana at Tivoli and at the Piazza Armerina villa in Sicily. Such complicated structures became especially popular in late antiquity.
After we finished working in the upper terrace rooms for this year, we extended our excavation area to the West, and thus to the fourth terrace. We concentrated on Room LI, the room north of Room XLVI, which just like this latter, large audience/reception room gives out on Atrium XLV, and on the atrium itself. The 2.5 sectors that were now investigated largely coincided with the old crane road leading to the upper town that we shifted northward two years ago to make excavation of this area possible. After the removal of a thick amount of mixed "road" material and of the first real destruction layer, the tuff vault originally covering Room LI was clearly recognizable in the profile of the East wall. Besides, North of Room LI we identified yet another room, which will not be further excavated this year (Room LV).
||Left, the possible west facade of the mansion with our own "crane road" to the right of it. Right, the new walls, possibly belonging to the western extremity of the mansion
Apart from our excavations in the northern part of the mansion, we worked two days to the southwest of the Domestic Area. Some rather badly preserved wall fragments in mortared rubble with a similar orientation as our mansion had become visible during winter in the West profile of the crane road. The northern SE-NW running wall fragment, of which the foundations as well as the related floor substratum were found, turned out to belong to a higher terrace than the southern one, which is continuing up to a deeper level. Given the similarities in orientation and building materials and techniques (rubble/brick) of these walls with those of our mansion, it is most likely that they belong to it. Moreover, since they flank the colonnaded street connecting the Roman Baths with the upper town, these walls probably form the western facade of the mansion! Besides, another wall, constructed perpendicularly against the northern wall was partly excavated. If these walls do form the west facade of the mansion, we will have to move the road for the cranes going to the Upper Agora and the Heroon a second time!