Just west of the Roman Baths, we opened two new excavation areas in an effort to document the late Roman to early Byzantine transformation of this part of the Lower Agora.
We opened one trench in the northeast corner of the square, where the current slope reaches its highest point. Almost immediately, we discovered the remains of a well built water-supply system, composed of U-shaped terra-cotta slabs covered by mortared rubble. This was nothing else than the northern section of the system we already found in 1992 and 1993. So far, this water-supply system is the latest structure to be found in this area. It was arranged on an artificial slope, created by partially dismantling and filling in the row of shops located behind the east portico of the square. Finds inside this fill suggest this took place in the sixth to seventh century century A.D. What is important is the fact that the northern part of this water-supply system is clearly arranged on top of the collapsed west facade of the Roman Baths and also above the seventh-century A.D. butchery shop in this area. As a result, this water system may be younger than we previously assumed. Possibly it took water to the Antoninus Pius sanctuary on a separately fortified promontory further down, where we'll do test excavations next week. There we want to check whether or not this might have been a medieval settlement of the kastron type (a fortified central village, characteristic for the middle Byzantine period).
We also opened a second trench farther south along the east side of the square. It is located just north of the two shops exposed during the 1992-1993 campaigns. First we removed the topsoil and material originating from the collapse of the Roman Baths, composed of tiles, rubble stones, and bricks. We quickly reached the destruction layer and upper section of a new shop. We expect the first finds here during the coming week, as the collapsed material was almost sterile.