- Welcome to the International Ez Zantur Project
- Outline of the International Ez Zantur Project
- Selected bibliography of the International Ez Zantur Project
- Preliminary Report on the 2002 Season
- Preliminary Report on the 2001 Season
- Preliminary Report on the 2000 Season
- Preliminary Report on the 1999 Season
- Preliminary Report on the 1998 Season
- I. Introduction
- II. Ez Zantur III
- III. Ez Zantur IV: The Nabataean mansion
- IV. Ez Zantur IV: Rooms 7 and 17
- V. Ez Zantur IV: Rooms 8, 9, and 16
- VI. Ez Zantur IV: Rooms 10, 11, and 14
- VII. Ez Zantur IV: Rooms 5, 13, 15, and 18
- VIII. Ez Zantur IV: Clues to the dating of the first building phase
- IX. Ez Zantur IV: A hoard of bullae from the 2nd century AD from room 15
- X. Ez Zantur IV: Nabataean fineware from room 15
- XI. Ez Zantur III: An ensemble of lamps from room 121
- Preliminary Report on the 1997 Season
- Preliminary Report on the 1996 Season
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)
IV. Ez Zantur IV: Rooms 7 and 17
The investigation of square 87/AP brought clear evidence that room 7 did not extend as far eastwards as wall I, as was supposed last year, but that it is actually a squat exedra measuring 6.5 x 7.4 m (Figs. 1. 3). An Attic column base (diam. of base: 1. 00 m; diam. of column: 0.74 m) exposed at the northern edge of the exedra and a similarly formed pilaster base at the western end of wall L suggest that room 7 ended with 2 columns in antis to the north. The „openings“ in the bipartite bases and the traces of scraping from the doors on the flagstones to the west of the stylobat, are witnesses to the doors which had once been mounted between the supports.
Although the dividing wall between rooms 7 and 17 has almost completely disappeared (see fig. 3) it is possible to reconstruct at least the original position of the entrance: a five-piece band of narrow paving stones at the eastern edge of the flooring in room 7 marks the position and length (c. 2.1 m) of the lost threshold between rooms 7 and 17. This passageway lies opposite the central entrance to room 6, which was also „open plan“, and shows that the three rooms 6, 7 and 17 were planned as an ensemble.
The parts of the arched substructure of room 17 exposed in last year’s campaign, which had collapsed in places, had given little cause to hope that there would be any intact flooring in the unexcavated area of square 87/AP. The 1998 findings were therefore particularly welcome: in the western portion of room 17 we came across a 2 x 3 m segment of a plundered opus sectile pavement with its substructure intact (Figs. 1. 3–4).
The pattern in the mortar bedding left by the tiles, which had been removed at a later date, bear witness to three decorational zones running north-south. Diamonds in squares in the western zone give way to a row of rectangular pavers which are bordered in the east by a narrow band of triangles. The fragments of marble and alabaster, which came to light by the dozen, give an indication of how opulent the floor decoration originally was. Fragments of phase 3a painted Nabataean pottery in the mortar bedding of the opus sectile pavement in room 17 confirm the terminus post quem of 20 AD for the first building phase For the typology and chronology of the painted Nabataean ware see Schmid 1997: 131ff. .
A selection of extraordinarily well preserved capital fragments belonging to McKenzie’s floral type 1 See McKenzie 1990: 116f. with 190, diagram 14.f. give an impression of the beautiful crownings of the supports in room 7 (Figs. 5–6). The cauliculi of the pilaster capital in Fig. 5 are entwined with vines and grapes are hanging from the corner volutes. Vines in low relief also decorate the abacus and transmute into a finely worked Medusa head just above the volutes.
A similar capital fragment, of unknown provenance, stands on the northern retaining wall of the Burckhardt Centre in Petra. A fragment of an abacus with a female head in high relief, which appears to grow out of a vine, is shown in Fig. 6. Her abundant curly hair is parted in the middle, combed back behind her ears and plaited at the back of her head. The plaits are wound around her head and knotted over her forehead. Pathos formulae, such as the head leaning to the left, the mouth slightly open, together with the rather fleshy cheeks are reminiscent of Near-Eastern Hellenistic prototypes and the remarkable Aphrodite relief in Petra Zayadine 1981: Pl. 1.3. . The capital fragments, of excellent workmanship, and the column and pilaster bases found in situ make very clear the fact that the luxurious decoration on EZ IV was not limited to wall painting and stuccoed architecture.
Parallels for the room ensemble 6/7/17, consisting of a central exedra with two flanking rooms, are to be found in Herodian and Ptolemaic architecture. The room combination 458 and 521 in the early Herodian core of the Western Palace on Masada, dated to the 30’s of the 1st century BC Netzer 1991: 232f. , is comparable, although lacking one of the flanking rooms. The reception/banqueting room 458 has, like room 6, one central and two side entrances. It is also remarkable that the groundplans of the two exedrae 521 (7.1 x 6.9 m) and 7 (7.4 x 6.5 m) are almost identical and that they both open northwards with two columns in antis. The only difference between the two exedrae worth mentioning is that the intercolumniations in room 7 were furnished with doors. Three room groups of the described type are to be found in the Macedonian palatial architecture from the end of the 4th century BC onwards i. a. Nielsen 1994: 84ff. . In this context it is quite revealing that in the late Hellenistic Palazzo delle Colonne in Ptolemais (Cyrenaica) a three room group is to be found to the north of the garden peristyle Pesce 1950: Fig. 11. We would like to interpret the Palazzo delle Colonne as a geographical and chronological link between the Macedonian architecture of the late 4th century and the Judaean/Nabataean buildings from the 1st centuries BC and AD. It can be assumed that the three room group was well established in Ptolemaic architecture and that the Herodian Western Palace as well as the Nabataean mansion on EZ IV must be seen in conjunction with Ptolemaic prototypes, which themselves were inspired by Macedonian architecture.