The Lower Agora North team continued its work in the agora's northeast corner, uncovering a second-century A.D. street separating the Roman Bath complex from the shops in the eastern portico of the Lower Agora. This section of street (more than 25 m long) still retained its paving slabs over a width of 2.05 to 2.60 m. It included two stepped sections (of one step), so that it must have served pedestrians only. The street was covered by a thin road deposit containing pottery dated to the late sixth century and by a thick destruction layer originating from the collapse of the bath's west facade.
At a higher level and to the west of this street, the team continued investigating the "butchery," which in reality seems to have been two one-room guard houses. We excavated the westernmost one last week and found its tile floor still in place. It had an entrance in its south wall and a connection with the street it was supposed to control. Two coins found on the floor were covered with plant remains that macrobotanist Thijs Van Thuyne identified as cow dung, among which was also a grain of wheat. Both coins belong to the reign of Tiberius II.
This week, we excavated the second guard room. It had its entrance in its north wall and thus seems to have guarded the original curved approach to the Lower Agora (see introduction). Its cobble-stone floor was only partially preserved. In its floor deposit and foundations were ceramics of the sixth century A.D., when the whole arrangement seems to have been established on a terrace overlooking the agora's eastern side. Between the two guard's rooms, we excavated a small alley, only 1.10 m wide, to its floor level, on which we found two pavement slabs. It, too, contained sixth-century sherds.
The northernmost room of the late-Roman to early-Byzantine dwelling encroaching upon the southern part of the eastern portico and its shops (see Lower Agora - South, July 20-26) was also this week. The fifth room of the dwelling, it covered at least 25 square meters. Its eastern wall adjacent to the street in front of the bath complex had a small niche in its exterior face, possibly for an oil lamp to illuminate part of the street and the entrance to the terrace with the guard houses. The same wall also had a small window of which the two limestone posts were still in place, each with six holes for inserting metal or iron bars for holding the window glass. We even found window glass near it! Because we haven't reached the room's floor level, we can't yet establish its final occupation date, but in the debris we discovered some large early Byzantine plates as well as a nice sixth-century square flask with a Christian motif, the first of its type in the local production.