The Domestic Area team (now including archaeology student Ariane Ceulemans, KULeuven) focused on the rooms west of the smaller "private" courtyard (XXV) and its southern arcade (XXXIII). We finished exposing room XXXIX. The floor of the room's northern section, excavated this week, consisted of cobbles placed in mortar with some brick fragments, as in the southern part. The seventh-century date of the last occupation was confirmed by the ceramics found on the floor level. Two doors connected this room to courtyard XXV (east) and to room XXXIX (north). Similarities in the brick pillars show that room XXXIX originally formed a double arcade open on its eastern and western sides, separating courtyards XIII and XXV. We found another brick pillar of the same type in the northwest corner of room XXXIX, which showed us that courtyard XXV was bordered by arcaded galleries not only on the east and south, but also on the west.
Our excavations in the adjacent western sectors revealed that the dwelling's entire southern area must have formed one arcaded courtyard complex. These sectors corresponded with the southern part of courtyard we partially excavated between 1998 and 2000. This courtyard's southern wall consisted of similar brick piers, blocked with mortared rubble walls at a later stage. Originally, this complex consisted of the larger western courtyard (9.35 x 10.5 m) and the smaller eastern one (7.50 x 5.20 m). Both spaces were bounded to the south by an arcaded gallery of nine piers supporting brick arches. At the location of the later room XXIX, the courtyards were originally divided by a north-south gallery of two rows of three brick piers each that formed a covered arcade leading toward the double apsidal nymphaeum in the northeast corner of courtyard XIII. This may have kept the nymphaeum's water cool in the afternoon sun. Only later was the north-south double arcade blocked up and subdivided into rooms XXI and XXXIX.
In the southwest of courtyard XIII, we found a doorstep giving onto an area paved with purple schist slabs. This seems to extend to the area south of the courtyard, which is still under investigation. Courtyard XIII itself was paved with large limestone slabs. The amount of large tile fragments and even complete tiles on the floor level was striking, as artifacts were otherwise scarce. In the southeast corner, right on top of the pavement, we did find a concentration of many shards of window glass. We also found numerous limestone column fragments, either part of an arcaded portico supported by columns, along the courtyard's west, where a column base was found in situ in 1998, or from a second, higher gallery. The double courtyard complex must have been impressive with its arcades, rich stucco decoration, and central fountain building. After it was subdivided, the courtyards were connected by a corridor, probably flanked on the south by a purple schist staircase, of which we unearthed two large steps, leading to an upper floor.
This courtyard system was flanked by rooms for craft activities and storage in the west, and by a private bath complex with four rooms and a nymphaeum in the north. The bath and a couple of vaulted corridors behind it supported a number of public rooms and a few, very small, private rooms to the east. The public rooms had separate staircase access, a vestibule, a waiting hall, a reception room, where in late Roman times many political decisions may have been taken, and a number of corresponding storage facilities to the south. Now, the courtyard is flanked on the south only by an arcaded gallery, giving access to an upper floor. This suggests there may have been other private quarters south of the courtyard. So, it can't be excluded that the very long room XL with the alternating curved and rounded niches in its north wall (see report July 27-August 2), was part of the same complex. It could have been a large dining room, accessible from courtyard XIII. Many late Roman palatial mansions of the provincial aristocracy had both public and more private reception and dining halls. Hopefully, next week's excavations will elucidate this hypothesis.