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)

V. Ez Zantur: Rooms 8, 9, and 16

The exposure of staircase 9 was completed in 1998 (Fig. 1). The stairwell has a quadratic groundplan of 4.23 x 4.26 m and is constructed around the central staircase pillar M (1.43 x 1.52 m). One is reminded of the Nabataean staircase towers as described by Avraham Negev e. g. in the phase III temple at Iram Tholbecq 1998: 242, Fig. 1. , or in „building II“ in Mampsis Negev 1973: 367, Fig. 2. . Only the foundations are preserved of the steps which once descended from corridor 8 in two flights. The steps were removed during a later phase of occupation and reused elsewhere. An explanation for the removal of the steps may be a collapsed section in the southern face of wall AA. Areas of repair in the northern face of wall AA prove that the damage must have occured before the final destruction of the building in the earthquake of 363 AD. These structural findings are supported by the pottery finds from the last phase of use of the staircase, which date from the late 3rd/ early 4th centuries AD. Three excellently worked steps were found just below the surface in the débris between wall A and staircase pillar M. They certainly belonged to an upper flight of stairs which had originally led up to the first floor. The steps are about 1.30 m long and show clear signs of wear at the exposed edge. It is possible, on the basis of these steps and the in situ foundations, to reconstruct a stairwell which connected the ground floor with the basement rooms under room 17 and the otherwise as yet intangible rooms of the upper storey.

The still only partially investigated room 16 has a very badly preserved and carelessly laid floor of split flagstones in a variety of sizes. The room has a peculiarly narrow doorway of only 50 cm breadth in its east wall I. It is rather astonishing that there is no sign of steps in the excavated strata to the east of and below the threshold despite the fact that wall I reaches down c. 1 m deeper than that part currently visible.

The floor of room 16 was covered with a thick layer of ash mixed with 4th century AD pottery – again documenting the final destruction of the building during the earthquake of 363. Two well preserved iron window grates lay in the débris to the east of wall I in square 87/AM (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7: EZ IV. Iron window grates as found east of room 16 (photo: D. Keller)
Fig. 7: EZ IV. Iron window grates as found east of room 16 (photo: D. Keller)

Traces of mortar on the ends of the main strut and the bars indicate that the grates were embedded in the wall to a depth of about 7 cm on all four sides. The grate visibly in Fig. 7 consists of a central iron strut onto which short bars are riveted at regular intervals. The second grate has two vertical struts close together and is correspondingly somewhat wider. The narrow slit windows which had been protected by these grates measured c. 0.3 x 0.9 m and 0.45 x 0.9 m respectively. These two finds will be a great help in the reconstruction of the building since no wall is as yet preserved to a height where windows would have been positioned.