The International Ez Zantur Project

Preliminary Report on the 1997 Swiss-Liechtenstein excavations at ez Zantur

by Bernhard Kolb (with contributions by Daniel Keller and Yvonne Gerber)

V. Ez Zantur IV: Room 1 and its murals

In PQ 90–92/AN the second half of room 1, which measures c. 4 x 5 m, was excavated during the campaign of 1997. In addition to the door in wall C room 1 opened with a passage to the east (Fig. 2). The débris in room 1 again contained a large number of flagstones from the collapsed upper floor. The last 30 cm above the floor level consisted almost exclusively of fragmented stucco cornices and wall paintings. The careful removal of this last layer required more than a week and gave the impression that there could hardly be any large sections of wall decoration still clinging to walls A and F behind the protective bulk left in front of them. This foreboding was fortunately only confirmed in the northern part of wall A, where the roots of plants had, in the course of time, reached deep down and forced away resp. destroyed the wall covering. On the northern wall F a few, small, painted patches are still in situ.

The consistent theme of the decorations allows a recontruction of the basic design of this wall despite its bad state of preservation. In contrast to the wall C, opposite, which is decorated along its entire length with a single illusionistically painted architectural façade, two smaller façades of 2 m length had been depicted on wall F, separated by a central painted pilaster. Both façades were framed above by the blue-grey epistyle – like those on walls A and C – supported by painted pilasters in the corners of the room (Kolb 1997: 235, Figs. 7–8).

In contrast to walls A, C and F, which are preserved to a height of at least 3 m, wall G has collapsed eastwards down to the last course of stones. In many places the preserved sections of the wall decoration were higher than the remaining wall itself and stood as fragile, painted stucco lamina. In the last days of the dig numerous large fragments of wall painting could be recovered from the area east of wall G, which will allow a reconstruction of the decoration up to the height of the pilaster-supported blue-grey epistyle. An architectural façade is once again depicted differing only in details from the better preserved one on wall C.