The International Ez Zantur Project

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

by Bernhard Kolb and Daniel Keller

VII. Ez Zantur IV: Further activities

From May 3rd through May 18th 1999, the first of two planned spring study campaigns took place. During the three week period, the painted stucco fragments recovered from room 6 were studied with the aim of obtaining a clearer understanding of the interior decoration. The draughtsperson Irma Haussener, the restorers Christine Pugin and Ulrich Bellwald and the author himself were part of the small team working at the Burckhardt Center in Petra. 120 crates of fragments were studied, typologically recorded and catalogued. The different types of cornices were drawn and consolidated where necessary. Preliminary results attest to a highly complex decoration based on a moulded architectural framework. Flat pilasters supporting segmental and triangular pediments were combined with bays painted with floral and geometric motifs.

Fig. 13: EZ IV. Room 6. Stucco-moulded segmental arch (photo: O. Jäggi)
Fig. 13: EZ IV. Room 6. Stucco-moulded segmental arch (photo: O. Jäggi)

Figure 13 illustrates one of the reconstructed segmental pediments. The rich variety of stuccoed cornices and fillets seems to point to a decoration arranged in successive, narrow registers in the upper part of the walls. It looks as if the stuccoed and painted decoration of room 6 was inspired by the monumental tomb façades in Petra. A specifically close parallel may be drawn to the façade of the so-called Palace Tomb Evidently, the moulded stucco decoration of the southern outer wall of the temple Qasr el-Bint must be taken into consideration as well. See McKenzie 1990: Pl. 73–74. where the lowest order consists of twelve supports which carry the entablature (Fig. 14). Four „aediculae“/doors with triangular and segmental pediments were inserted into the architectural framework. Above the second order, itself already somewhat reduced in scale, follow three dwarf orders, resulting in a dense horizontal subdivition of the upper façade.

Fig. 14: Petra. Palace Tomb. Owest order of the façade (photo: O. Jäggi)
Fig. 14: Petra. Palace Tomb. Owest order of the façade (photo: O. Jäggi)

The promising preliminary results from room 6 raise hopes that the yet unstudied decoration fragments from other rooms of the edifice on EZ IV will shed further light on the interior decoration of Nabataean private architecture, an aspect of the Nabataean style of living not well known so far.

Bernhard Kolb
Schweizerisch-Liechtensteinische Ausgrabungen in Petra der Universität Basel
Schönbeinstrasse 20
4056 Basel