Preliminary Report on the 1997 Swiss-Liechtenstein excavations at ez Zantur
by Bernhard Kolb (with contributions by Daniel Keller and Yvonne Gerber)
VII. Ez Zantur III
In squares 117/G–H the northern edge of room 111 was cleared (Figs. 11–12). Only a few stones of wall BG, which is very badly preserved, are still in place. The same is true of the two short walls CQ and BH, which join onto wall BG. The walls stand on the levelled rock terrace which ends in an arch shape in the north of squares 117/H–I. The west side of room 111 opened, with 2 columns, onto room 118 and was accessible in the south resp. in the east from rooms 112, 120 and 114 The previous reconstructions of room 111 as a peristyle are thus untenable. .
Its close connection with the structures of the southern rooms characterises room 111 as courtyard A further indication is its weatherproof flooring of flagstones; the neighbouring rooms 112, 120 and 140 have floors of beaten earth. A short, corridor-like extension connects courtyard 111 with room 114 (c. 3.7 x 5 m) in 114–115/G (Figs. 11–12). The unusually broad door, with a span of 1.2 m, opens to the east and may have been the main entrance of the house. If this assumption is correct, room 114 was a foyer connecting the eastern rooms around courtyard 111 and through the passage in wall CD, to the neighbouring area to the south. A wastewater channel hewn out of the bedrock runs from a funnel-shaped gully in room 112, along wall BB, across room 114 and can be followed to the threshold in wall CP.
In room 120, to the south of courtyard 111, we reached the bedrock (Figs. 11–12). The room, measuring 3.5 x 4.5 m stretches along the courtyard and was probably a representative room in the original building-context. Room 121, south of wall BS, has a badly built east wall BW which is only loosely jointed to walls BS and BA (Figs. 11–13). Room 121 originally opened through a later blocked door in wall BS. About 2 m below surface we came upon strata containing large quantities of ash, débris of the collapsed walls and their decoration i. e. fragments of red plaster and polychrome cornices. These strata reached down almost to the floor level, where a deposit of several broken Nabataean coarse ware vessels and a coin from the reign of Commodus (180–191 AD) were found. However, the most remarkable find from room 121 was the previously mentioned bronze coin of Rabbel II dating from the last years of the independent Nabataean kingdom (103–106 AD). It was stuck in a piece of under-plaster and delivers a nice terminus post quem for the decoration of room 121, for the wall BS and for the walls of room 120.
In PQ 114/I we excavated down to the bedrock from the western edge of the pavement in room 109 (Figs. 11. 13). It was again evident that during the early use of the site – probably still in the 1st century BC – water played a central role: two more or less parallel channels connected with an overflow are carved out of the bedrock and run from room 109 to the east. The sloping bank built of slabs and hydraulic mortar along wall BX in room 110 seems to indicate that this room too was originally used in connection with water.
In the western squares 116–117/I a staircase with two flights was exposed at the edge of the terrace. Its upper flight runs from corridor 115 down to a flagstone paved landing between wall CS and staircase pillar CR (Figs. 11. 14). The obvious danger of walls CS and CV collapsing dissuaded us from clearing the visible door opening in wall CV.
The staircase proves that the terracing of the structures was not confined to the two main levels on EZ III already mentioned, but that it continued in the steep parts of the northwestern slope.
The fact that the stratified finds are not chronologically homogeneous makes it difficult to date the rooms. A preliminary analysis of the finds indicates that the rooms under discussion were abandoned in the Severian period i. e. significantly earlier than the building EZ IV which was inhabited until 363 or the dwelling on EZ I destroyed in the early years of the 5th century AD.
Bernhard Kolb Schweizerisch-Liechtensteinische Ausgrabungen in Petra der Universität Basel Schönbeinstrasse 20 4056 Basel