For the RB2 team (Johan Claeys, KULeuven, and Onur Özer, Istanbul University) five weeks of removing hundreds of cubic meters of debris were finally rewarded with the uncovering of a few square meters of the mosaic floor, which will continue during the weeks to come. Already in 2001 a part of the same floor was exposed in the far western side of the large frigidarium 1 room (together with a semi-circular bath). The 2001 mosaic floor appeared to be very well preserved, partially because of the absence of a hypocaust floor underneath, partially because of a protective layer of mortar on top of the floor. The compactness of this mortar layer poses the question if the mortar was intentionally added on top of the floor, or if collapsed mortar from the vault's joints formed this thin covering. The small surface we uncovered this week yielded the same features: parts of the mosaic were already quite visible, while the main part was covered with a very hard mortar residue. The simple geometric motif of the floor is made of large irregular tesserae, 2-3 cm wide. The design of the floor seems to be the same as that of 2001: black circles interconnected by black lines on a white background.
A large part of the southwestern central pier was exposed, yielding some very well preserved patches of plaster in situ. Towards the west the pier is continued by a brick wall of ca. 2.75 m long, which forms the south wall of the room. The conservation team is watching the exposure of floor and walls closely, as more interventions will be needed to preserve the in situ remains of plaster and mosaics.
In the mean time, the RB 1 team (Markku Corremans, KULeuven, and Hasan Uzunoglu, Mimari Sinan University, Istanbul) continued its excavations of the "northern six piered hall." Most piers are still covered by large patches of white plaster, which were treated immediately. On one of them two lines of graffiti could be distinguished. Toward the beginning of next week, the floor level should be reached here as well. It becomes more and more clear that the two "six piered halls" most probably were not separated from the central hall with its much larger and higher piers, so that the whole space had a length of ca. 60 m!
The consistency of the finds during the week was truly remarkable, as each day yielded a similar array of finds (all originating from the same destruction layer associated with the collapsed vaults): especially metal nails and tesserae, to a lesser extent bone and ceramics. Every day brought us at least some examples of wall bricks and roof tiles some bearing the stamps of the factory (EXIO), animal footprints (mainly dogs) and human fingerprints, both impressed during the production or drying process of the tiles and before their firing, as well as occasional graffiti.