Posted by: lukelavan | August 26, 2010

The Palaestra gets more complicated

Work has now started in the Palaestra of the Forum Baths – first with the geophysics (which we have finally got working), and also with some surface survey of the walls. It is now clear that the phasing of the late Roman repair is more complex than we thought. The little temple seems to be late antique even in its first phase – made out of re-used materials, derived from another building. The piers reinforcing the vault of the portico seem to be of a variety of dates: some are revetted with white marble carefully set into the brick walls with tabs of marble and bronze, whilst other piers are simply revetted in black marble stuck onto the front with mortar. It also seems that there was a floor of mortar or rough mosaic, after the inital mosaic of the 3rd c. What this all means is that there is likely to be more than one phase of resotration to the plaza, comparable to what we have in macellum.

Elsewhere on site we are laying out the test pits for the palaestra entrance on the cardo, and are continuing to finish cleaning the nymphaeum, where a hexagonal marble tiles and marble slabs have been recovered. Elsewhere on site the medieval area is clean and the two mortar levels of the late Roman macellum are being studied. We hope to set up ceramics tomorrow, by recovering some material we had to bury in the ground last year. Work on spolia and surface archaeology has come to an end this year as Richard Sadler our archivist and spolia expert has had to return. He has made a number of important discoveries this year, notably on the location of gameboards and the distinctive nature of our macellum facade, which seems to have been covered in green serpentine marble. The weather is a little bit cooler, and everyone is cheered by the arrival of Shelagh, the aunt of the Luke Lavan, who is a great cook, and Eddie the archivist who will really sort out our plan drawings.

Luke Lavan 25-08-210

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