The Urban Mansion: July 29-August 11
During the fourth and fifth weeks the Domestic Area team under the direction of Inge Uytterhoeven and Rob Rens (both K.U. Leuven) and Sevgi Gerçek (Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi) focused exclusively on the excavation of Room LI and the adjacent atrium XLV. After having removed the first erosion layers in the previous weeks, one now reached the real destruction layers reflecting the gradual collapse of the building.
Room LI turned out to be a rectangular room of 6.00 by 4.90 m, which was originally covered with a tuff vault, which must have been ca. 5-6 m high. As is still clear in the N wall, the walls had square holes (ca. 0.25 by 0.25 m) to attach scaffoldings during construction of the vault. Whereas the N, E, and W walls are built in solid rubble masonry and are still partly covered with the original mortar layer, the S wall actually consists of two large brick arches, which--at least at one point--may have been used as shelves, since we found an almost complete jar and plate in the southeast corner of the room, below the most eastern arch. Through a door with a rather well preserved brick arch and a window in its W wall, Room LI gave access on Atrium XLV located to the west of it.
The destruction layer 4 in Room LI consisted mainly of large rubble blocks that collapsed from the walls, but the very large amount of mosaic fragments and tesserae in layer 5 obviously represented the collapse of a mosaic covering the floor of a room on the upper story above Room LI. The mosaic of this upper room, which we called Room LVII, was executed in black on a white background forming a geometrical motif of lines, curves and circles. Only a few fragments had isolated orange and purple tesserae on a white background (rainbow style?). Possibly the opus tessellatum (mosaic floor) was combined with opus sectile (artificially cut marble slabs of all shapes), seen the many thick marble fragments that were found in the same layer. Similar mosaic stones and marble pieces occurred in Layer 6, and attested together with the many crustae and sham architecture fragments the original very rich floor and wall decoration of Room LVII.
In order to fully expose the atrium this year, the excavation area was extended with two sectors to the west (2460/2520 and 2455/2420), and two half sectors to the south (2455/2515-E and 2455/2510-E), where we started excavation of another part of the old crane road and the first erosion material. Up till now, however, we did not yet find the NW corner of the atrium. On the other hand, the West wall of the atrium became already visible during the removal of the topsoil. In this way it became clear that yet another room (Room LVII) flanks the atrium on its western side. The level of the tuff vault of this room, which apparently is still well-preserved, suggests that the room(s) in this western part of the representative area are located at the same level as the bathing rooms in the South, and thus on a lower terrace than the atrium and the large audience hall Room XLVI.