Domestic Area: Aims 2008
Since 1995, we have excavated in the eastern Domestic Area, a residential district to the east of the monumental city center, exposing a substantial complex that has been identified as a large, late antique urban mansion, belonging to a family from the city's provincial aristocracy or, most likely, even the bishop of the town.
With exception of the western border, located immediately northeast of the public bath building, the edges of this urban mansion have not yet been found. Even so, we have already exposed 60 rooms spread over five terraces. The complex includes a richly decorated private bathing complex, courtyards enclosed by arcaded galleries and separated from each other by a private nymphaeum, an atrium with impluvium and private nymphaeum, and three large vaulted audience halls.
The main construction phase of this elite house dates to the fourth-early fifth century A.D., whereas part of the building goes back to the first century A.D. After the fourth century, the mansion was rebuilt and restored at various times. Around the middle of the sixth century, the house was probably subdivided in smaller apartments, and some of the originally most luxurious parts of the villa got a rural function. All evidence suggests that most of the mansion was no longer occupied when it was finally destroyed by an earthquake in the period A.D. 540-620.
Our aims for the 2008 season are as follows:
- Extend the excavation in the northwestern part of the house, in order to complete the exploration of several rooms and to locate the entrance of the mansion. Attention will also be paid to the series of rooms north of the private bathing unit and to still unidentified rooms located to the west.
- Complete the excavation of various rooms and spaces, including:
- The eastern half of Room XVI (partially excavated in 2000) in order to make assurance of the general safety condition of the area possible
- Limited test soundings at several locations in the house determined by the results of the ongoing architecture and pottery analyses
- Conduct a small test sounding under the mosaic in Room XVII (removed in 2004 for conservation) in order to document the structural features of the mosaic construction, and to provide more chronological evidence for the mosaic's date, possibly along with earlier phases of flooring.
- Extend the excavation in the southern and lower section of the house. Detailed study of the stratigraphy of this area and its architectural remains should reveal the relationship of the possibly different original housing units and their potential merging.
- Execute of a test sounding in the area south of the mansion, where elements visible at the surface indicate the presence of an entrance
- Document possible older building phases of the villa, by means of a few minor test soundings.
We will also continue to document the collapse and abandonment processes of the early Byzantine villa, wherein the contextual analysis of the house and its many rooms will be continued as well.