Posted by: lukelavan | September 9, 2010

Rain and wind

The last couple of days have been a bit hectic with some illness and a thunderstorm, the first of the season. The site got a good soaking, revealing some beautiful soil colours and clear contrasts, in both the macellum and the main forum. We stayed mainly dry, sheltering under the surviving vaults of the forum baths, though some people did catch colds.

The rain washed some surfaces so well that we were able to identify new finds – such as gaming tokens and iron nails – within our ‘6th c’ tile spread in the forum portico. Many excellent photos were taken, and now we are doing our best to conserve the moisture from the returning sun, before late levels in these areas are excavated.

The excavation of the nymphaeum opposite the macellum has had a new lease of life – Zsolt’s team finally cleaned the front of the building, only to find the  thin late marble revetment still in situ at the very bottom. We also  started cleaning the highly impressive late nymphaeum to the west of the forum for a photomosaic – it was a structure with two stories of niches for statues, set at the bifurcation of the decumanus into two major streets. Hopefully John Hutchinson and his team will be able to make an impact here.

Back in the palaestra, we are cleaning the late antique monumental entrance, which consists of a fairly impressive, if not quite straight set of column bases for a propylon in re-used blocks, covered by a very poorly aligned second phase of staircase in mixed travertine and tufa blocks, not unlike the late steps down into main forum, or indeed the 5th c. phase two of our macellum. We hope to date these changes by selective excavation of surviving deposits.

However, it is worth pointing out that even these late, somewhat ugly staircases, that are not at all well-made, with no attempt to re-cut the re-used blocks, are still part of the ancient city – they front secular classical monuments and are wide enough to take processions of two or three people – they are not medieval paths around the ruined city, but part of a late phase of the late antique urban centre.

Luke Lavan 09/09/2010

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