The International Ez Zantur Project

Preliminary Report on the 1999 Swiss-Liechtenstein excavations at ez Zantur

by Bernhard Kolb and Daniel Keller

I. Introduction

The 10th season of excavations of Basel University in co-operation with the Swiss-Liechtenstein Foundation for Archaeological Research Abroad (SLFA) in Petra was conducted from August 18 through October 26, 1999. The field team in 1999 included Anne-Cathrine Escher as architectural draughtsperson, Yvonne Gerber as cerimacist, Othmar Jäggi as photographer, Consuelo Keller as square supervisor and small finds registrar, Daniel Keller as square supervisor and glass specialist, Laurent Gorgerat as square supervisor and cerimacist, Matthias Grawehr as square supervisor and lamp specialist, Irma Haussener as scientific draughtsperson, Bernhard Kolb as director, architect and stratigraphist, Darko Milosavljevic as restoration supervisor on EZ III, Markus Peter as numismatist, Annegret Reber as square supervisor and draughtsperson, Jacqueline Studer and Jean-Marie Zumstein as faunal analysts. Intermonument Restauro Ulrich Bellwald was responsible for the consolidation and restoration activities on EZ IV.

Suleiman Farajat, Inspector of the Petra region, was our very able and helpful representative of the Department of Antiquities. Thanks are also due to Prof. Dr. Ghazi Bisheh, former Director-General of the Department of Antiquities, as well as to his successor, Dr. Fawwas al-Khrayshieh, to Dr. Fawzi Zayadine, Vice Director, and to Faisal al-Qudah, Deputy Director, for their support of our project. We are particularly indebted to H. R. H. Prince Ra’ad and to the Jordanian Airforce for giving us the opportunity to take aerial photographs of our sites.

Our special thanks go to the SLFA (Zürich), Kanton Basel-Stadt, Basel University, Max Geldner Foundation (Basel) and Novartis (Basel), National Insurance (Basel) and various private donors whose generous financial support made the 1999 campaign possible.

Our project benefited once more from the customary assistance and courtesy extended to us by the Jordanian Embassy in Berne and the Swiss Embassy in Amman.

Fig. 1: EZ IV. Aerial view of site (photo: D. Keller)
Fig. 1: EZ IV. Aerial view of site (photo: D. Keller)

In 1999 the excavation activities focused on the Nabataean mansion of the first century AD on site EZ IV to the south of ez Zantur see Kolb – Keller – Gerber 1998: 259, Fig. 1. . On site EZ III we resumed the consolidation of the structures with the intent to complete the necessary work. The main objectives of the 1999 season were the following:

To resume the current excavation on EZ IV. The architecture and interior decoration of the building exposed since 1996 indicate the presence of an important Nabataean dwelling of the first century AD which should be investigated to the utmost extent in order to obtain a maximum of information on the architectural conception of a so far unique private building in the Nabataean metropolis of Petra.

Analysis of the small finds from strata related to the earthquake destruction of 363 AD. The sudden end of the occupation sealed a multitude of finds beneath the débris. The analysis of the finds will shed further light on the development of the sub-Nabataean fine and coarse wares as well as lamp and glass production of the third and fourth centuries. In this context, it is of particular interest that the finds from the destruction layers on EZ IV are of a higher quality than the material we exposed in the humbler dwelling on site EZ I Petra. Ez Zantur I: 1996. . It appears that until the last phase of occupation, the mansion on EZ IV was occupied by comparatively well off Petraeans.