The International Ez Zantur Project

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

by Bernhard Kolb and Daniel Keller

III. Ez Zantur IV: Rooms 20, 26, and 28 (PQ 90–92/AM–AN; 90–91/AL)

The rooms 21, 20 and 26 form a narrow room alignment on an EW axis, concealing a step of ca. 1 m height in the bedrock between the southern rooms and the higher northern rooms. To the west the step is covered by the short stairway between corridor 2 and courtyard 5 and to the east by the walls F, AL, AK and AJ (Fig. 2). Interestingly, each and every room of the mentioned alignment was connected to a different room complex: The already discussed room 21 was the northernmost of the stately rooms, while room 20 opened to the north onto courtyard 28 and room 26 was connected to the western courtyard 5. Room 20 is the tiniest room exposed on EZ IV so far (2.7 x 1.9 m). Remains of a taboun from the fourth century were found in front of the northern wall AJ. A large mortar made of sandstone (Diam. 45 cm) which came to light next to the taboun suggests that room 20 may have functioned as a kitchen, a conjecture which finds further proof in the sandy floor, a feature known from the small Late Roman baking house of the dwellings on site EZ I Kolb 1996: 58ff. . In the eastern part of room 20 we came upon a lime deposit of a few cm thickness. The deposit as well as a sherd with traces of red pigment are most probably to be interpreted as remains of a restoration-phase of the wall-decoration. Further sherds with traces of red pigment were found in locus 3261 (room 28) and in locus 3203 (rooms 11/19). The stratum beneath the lime deposit (locus 3219) comprised fragments of an earlier taboun in the corner of the walls F/AI, dated by the pottery finds to the first century AD, i. e. to the initial construction phase.

To the west of room 20 lies room 26 (4 x 1.9 m) which is divided into a small western anteroom and the eastern main room by the inner wall AH (Fig. 5). The state of preservation of walls AG and AI is rather poor. At least the first course of hammer dressed fieldstones is still in its original position on the rockhewn foundation. Except a few fragments of flagstones along wall F, the original pavement is lost. Located immediately north of the entrance is a tiny taboun. Two bronze coins found under the oven floor during the consolidation, date the installation to the fourth century EF 3275: Constantine, AE3, 324–330; EF 3276: Constantine, AE3, 330–336. . In the central area of the main room we came upon a circular deposit of ash of a former fireplace. At least during the last phase of occupation room 26 as well as room 20 served as kitchens. The location of both kitchens adjacent to courtyards (5 and 28) was ideal as it facilitated the extraction of smoke. Due to the absence of a pavement or any related finds it is impossible to determine the original function of room 26. In the fill of the channellike carvings along the inner face of walls AG and AI two bronze coins EF 3210: unidentified bronze coin, presumably Nabataean. EF 3211: unidentified bronze coin, presumably Nabataean. and huge amounts of fragmented fine and coarse ware pottery as well as lamps and glass came to light. The remarkably homogeneous finds date to the first century AD, thus reminding of the situation in room 26. The material was most probably part of the levelling fill on which the pavement was laid out during the initial construction phase. As for the dating of the building it is important to note that the finds from rooms 21 and 26 are not contradicting the yet preliminary terminus post of 20 AD Kolb – Gorgerat – Grawehr 1999: 269. .

The spacious courtyard 28 which is paved with sand and limestone flags extends the „spine“ of the building further north. Not only does it follow the alignment of rooms 15, 19 and 7, but it also repeats the EW measure of 7.2 m. The corridors on its south side connected the courtyard to the rooms of the eastern and western wings. An excellently preserved table or bench stand was exposed close to wall AE (Fig. 5). The narrow front end is adorned with a relief of a very schematic leg and the hoof of a bovine.