Franciscan Cyberspot Franciscan Arcgaeological Institute Logo
 Mount Nebo - P.O.Box 2 Faysaliyah - 17196 Madaba - JORDAN - eMail: mtnebo@go.com.jo

 
EXCAVATION CAMPAIGN 2000 - UMM AL-RASAS

The excavation in this campaign was concentrated in Locus 09 (Atrium of the Church of Saint Paul). An area delimited to the east by the presser (Sector 06), to the south by the rooms set externally to the church of the Peacocks and to the north by the atrium and the service rooms of the Church of Saint Paul (Sectors 01, 02, 03 and 04). The excavation turned out to be more complex than expected. A deep and vast edifice came immediately to light, in some way related to the presser, probably used as a semi-underground warehouse.

The 13 by 8 meters edifice is divided into two separate but intercommunicating areas. It was reached through a flight of steps that started from the west corridor of the presser (sector 06) and led to the first lower floor. The staircase was divided into two flights of steps by a landing, on which there opened two small slit windows that gave light to the north room. The entrance to the south room was set at the level of the second step of the lower flight. Beyond the door, five irregular steps set on a wall led down to the underlying rooms. These are made up of a series of five long narrow areas lying in a north-south direction divided by four series each having two arches. A series of five small arches, in an east west direction, developed from the space between the arches. The ceiling, made of stone slabs, rested upon these arches. At the time of the excavations, the only ceiling slabs in place were those set at the end of the entrance stairs. The rest of the slabs were brought back to light within the collapsed debris together with a certain number of doorjambs, a positive witness to the existence of a higher floor, and a segment of a masonry wall found in the north west corner discovered during the 1999 campaign (cf. excavation report).

The floor of this room was made up of stone slabs set one against each other and which was also the ceiling to a further underlying area. As a result of the investigations that were possible to carry out in the area, this underlying area must have been very similar, structurally, to the upper level. The floor / ceiling slabs were discovered broken up and caved in, as a result of the fall, up to the floor level of the lower storey. We found only two slabs that even though broken were still in situ. It was only possible to partially bring to light two arches of the lower level. The space between the arches was completely jammed by the stones from the collapse and ash and earth from the abandonment. The floor of the lower level turned out to be the natural bedrock that had been flattened. This floor turned out to be at a level of —7.466 meters to the Umm al-Rasas GPS point. It was not possible to establish the access point to this lower lever due to the grave problems relating to the stability of the structures.

An aperture, set between the spans of the last two arches to the west, led from the south to the north room. The sectors in this area turn out to be very much different from the ones in the south room, both in structure and stratigraphy. The room turns out to be made up of a single level covered with stone slabs held upon three arches having an approximate span of 5m and having a beaten earth floor. All the three arches are fallen. Four slit windows opened on the west wall that also had a square niche. Below the windows there ran a raised wall filled with stones and yellow earth. Two further slit windows were set in the east wall overlooking the stair landing. Beneath the windows there was a recess in the wall delimited by a low wall. The two central sectors, partially excavated up to the beaten earth floor level are characterized by the presence of a segment of a pilaster and a north south wall which crest is at the same level as the floor. The portion of pilaster rests against the south wall of the area and is what remains of a pilaster that probably rose upon the resulting base set between two arches to support an upper structure of which no traces remain.

 
 

The stratigraphy of the North room was different; all of the area turned out to be filled up by a large stratum of compact yellow earth, mixed with elements from the collapse. Large fragments of white plaster and mortar were found as well as abundant patches of ashes. The stratum of yellow earth and elements from the fall extended to the beaten earth floor, brought to light only at the south corners of the room. The beaten earth floor in the two corners shows diverse characteristics; darker and less compact to the west, lighter in colour and much more compact and carefully prepared and laid in the east. The collapse of the closing east wall on top of that of the arch was found still in its original fall position in the vicinity of the northeastern corner.

The excavation of this vast deep edifice, totally unexpected in this zone of the Saint Paul and Peacocks complex, sheds new light on the life in the city of Umm al-Rasas, thanks to the fact that, for the first time, we have had the opportunity to excavate a multi-storied edifice. The building is practically deprived of any indications that could help us understand its function. Notwithstanding this, its structure as well as the explicit relationship it finds itself in with the wine presser in the vicinity, one can deduce that the building was used as a warehouse and not as a dwelling place. Thus the complex acquires a different configuration; in the area between the two churches there had been built a large and well-organized industrial complex for the production of wine, complete with presser and warehouse.


Our Main Page
 
 

Please fill in our Guest book form - Thank you for supporting us!
Created / Updated Sunday, August 11, 2002 at 17:11:23 by John Abela ofm
Web site uses Javascript and CSS stylesheets - Space by courtesy of Christus Rex

© The Franciscans of the Holy Land and Malta

cyber logo footer