The International Ez Zantur Project

Preliminary Report on the 1998 Swiss-Liechtenstein excavations at ez Zantur

by Bernhard Kolb (with contributions by Laurent Gorgerat and Matthias Grawehr)

II. Ez Zantur III

The excavation on EZ III was limited to the exposure of room 121 which had been started in 1997 see plan of EZ III in Kolb 1997: 266 Fig. 11. . The interstice of a blocked door in wall BS was discovered, which had originally connected room 121 with room 120 which lies just to the north of it, and thus with courtyard 111. A floor of beaten earth only a few centimetres thick lay directly over the rock of the outcrop. Three Nabataean coins, which lay at floor level, cover the period from 4/5 BC to 106 AD EF 1334: Aretas IV (5–4 BC); EF 1341: Aretas IV – Rabbel II (18–106 AD); EF 1339: Nabataean. and give further proof of the first phase of the structures on EZ III which had been analysed by Maxime Boillat recently M. Boillat, De la roche, des murs, des hommes. Essai de compréhension des structures archéologiques de la terrasse inférieure d’ez Zantur à Petra/Jordanie (unpubl. MA, Basel University 1998). .

Important finds in the form of a fragmentary wall painting and cornice mouldings came to light in the lower starta of the collapsed walls. The wall painting, as far as it possible to tell, represented satyrs and erotes at the vintage. The figures move within a scrollwork of vines and acanthus and are reminiscent of the well-known paintings in house 849 in neighbouring Beidah McKenzie 1990: Figs. 113–115. . The recovered stucco mouldings are all of the same type and taken together reach a length of a good 3 m. They were probably part of the cornice, which, when the room was intact, formed the upper border of the wall decoration. Another well-represented moulding consists of a simple stucco fillet with a fascia underneath decorated with a very nicely preserved painted white scrollwork on a dark green background.


The completion of the excavation on EZ III allowed us to begin with the urgent task of consolidating the walls. The uppermost courses of the dry stone walls were freed of the remaining sandy core and then filled with a mortar consisting of local sand, unslaked lime and a small quantity of white cement. The mortar was mixed with small stones, firstly to reduce the amount of mortar needed, and secondly to ensure that the crown of the walls would look as authentic as possible at completion. After 9 weeks of work an approximately 60 m length of wall had been consolidated in this manner by the architect Urs Hüssy and his team Walls AB, AF–AH, AM–AO, AR, BB–BC, BK–BO, BS, BX–BZ, CM, CY and CZ. . The other part of the consolidation work consisted of removing the dump material from EZ I and EZ III which had accumulated over the last 10 years along the northwestern edge of the terrace. The terrain below the northern face of ez Zantur was thus restored to the state in which we found it in 1988.

The intention is to complete the consolidation of the walls on EZ III during the 1999 campaign and to make the site as attractive and safe as possible for future visitors.