Following the results of the 2005 excavation of 11 pit graves on the western rocky outcrop of the complex Schmid and Barmasse 2006; Schmid et al. 2008. , we decided to excavate the remaining six comparable structures. Contrary to the previously excavated tombs that were covered by a small layer of sand, the new ones were always visible and were mentioned by the 19th and early 20th c. visitors and scholars. Therefore, we had little hope to find undisturbed burials. Indeed, all tombs were previously robbed. Nevertheless, on several occasions enough material remained in order to allow observations as for the chronology of the burials and the funerary practices.
Pit graves numbers 12 to 15 are situated within a circular structure opening towards the rocky area that initially formed the upper floor of the huge entrance building to the Soldier Tomb complex (fig. 18). This circular structure must have been an outdoor stibadium, i. e. a banqueting installation under the open sky. The construction of four rock-cut pit tombs in the middle of such an installation as well as two more just behind it surely changed the function of the stibadium that most likely was out of use when the tombs were constructed. It would therefore, be interesting to obtain precise information as for the date of these tombs, since this would also allow dating the change in function of the initial structure.
The best candidate for that purpose turned out to be pit grave 16. Although disturbed and robbed, some valuable information was obtained. The rock-cut grave shows two shoulders initially thought for posing covering slabs on them. We therefore have to reckon two or three burials within this grave, depending on whether the space above the first shoulder was also used for a burial. While the covering slabs from the first shoulder had completely disappeared, three slabs on the second shoulder were still in situ (fig. 19). Contrary to our expectations, another series of similar slabs were found beneath these slabs (fig. 20). Between the two slabs a layer of charcoal-containing mortar was found that also held several potsherds. These were identified as Nabataean cooking pots and fine ware of the 1st and early 2nd century AD. In other words, the first burial of pit grave 16 did not occur before the early 2nd century AD. This corresponds quite well to the chronological information that was obtained from the pit graves 1 to 11 in 2005 that seemed to date from the late 1st and early 2nd century AD.
As for the rock-cut stibadium, we would conclude that it went out of use in the early 2nd century AD and must, therefore, pre-date this period. Again, it seems as if quite substantial changes affected the Soldier Tomb complex in the early 2nd century AD, as already pointed out above in the case of the entrance to the triclinium BD 235. The parallels between the different similar observations within Wadi Farasa East can also be stretched by another point. The mortar that was used in order to fix the covering slabs in pit grave 16 is exactly the same charcoal-containing hydraulic mortar that was used in other pit graves of the small necropolis and also for the construction of the massive structure in front of the huge triclinium BD 235 (cf. above). Since we know that this type of mortar was not introduced in Petra before roughly AD 100, we again obtain a chronological confirmation as for the construction of the pit graves. The lowest level within pit grave 16 did contain some human bones that were found in small heaps, probably the result of the plundering (fig. 21). As observed on several occasions in 2005, the human bones were also mixed with the same mortar that was used for sealing the covering slabs (some reflections on this phenomenon in Schmid et al. 2008).
Four of the other five pit graves presented similar situations as did pit grave 16, although they were more seriously damaged by the tomb robbers. Pit grave 15 was the only one to present a different situation. As pit grave 7, excavated in 2005, it apparently was used as a rubbish dump in the medieval period. From top to bottom all layers did contain substantial amounts of pottery belonging to the 11th to 13th century AD (fig. 22). Towards the bottom of the grave, two completely preserved pots were found (figs. 23. 24), one of them still conserving its lid.