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Squares D8-9 (fig. 4)

Figure 4: Squares D8 and D9

Square D8-9, midseason These two 5 x 5 meter squares were excavated together, starting 20 meters west of D14, or 50 meters west of the bakeries area (fig. 1). Thomas Kittredge and Mohsen Kamel supervised these squares. Our attention was directed here by several patches of compact limestone rubble exposed by the modern sand diggers from the riding stables since our last season. The largest patch, about 12 meters long, is located more than 60 meters from the SE corner of the mudbrick wall to which the bakeries are attached in our 1991 area A7. D8-9 was laid out to give a profile across this patch of rocky material with the idea that it may mark an end to a larger mudbrick complex of which the buildings found in and near A7 were a part.

Square D8-9 Underneath a layer of fallen mudbrick and stone—the collapse and deterioration of the walls such as we have found in almost every square—the east-west line of the large mudbrick wall continues (890, 893), here more as a single construction than in D17 and D14 (fig. 5). The wall was robbed out in these squares almost down to the lowest course of bricks in some places. The same wall, 1.5 meters thick, appears to turn a corner and to run north (892). If this can be taken as the southwest corner of an enclosure, whose southeast corner is that to which the bakeries attach, the layout is just under 65 meters wide. However, a less substantial wall (868) continues the east-west line farther west, running beyond the west side of square D8. A wall built of broken stone (894) runs from the "corner" farther south, beyond the south balk of square D8. It is the collapse of this wall that produced the patch of limestone rubble. The south face of the east-west wall (893), and the east face of the stone wall (894), have a thick coat of tafla plaster. There is a tafla- plastered bench (897) along the base of the stone wall. Smaller walls (866), some a single brick thick, run south from the main east-west wall. These defined small enclosures that contained caches of complete, or nearly complete, ceramic vessels, mostly crude red ware jars and bread molds.

Square D8-9, final Along the north side of the main east-west wall (893), other thick mudbrick walls (713, 750) run north and define a series of chambers. The same kind of chambers, perhaps a modular series attached to the north side of the whole east-west wall line, may be indicated by the walls in D17 and D14 (fig. 1). It is possible that these are workshops. We recall the evidence of copper slag found in D17 (fig. 2), inside what might be a chamber like those in D8-9. The central chamber of those on the north side of the east-west wall in D8-9 had a series of dolerite hammer stones scattered about on a dark ashy layer that covered the floor (891). Underneath the ashy deposit, the floor was speckled with yellow and red pigment. Larger pieces of red pigment, possibly hematite, were found at the north end of this chamber. The hammer stones might have been used for grinding pigment for paint.

In summary, while the large mudbrick wall that was our original interest may turn a corner in D8, other walls show that the whole complex continues father west and south. The south side of the east-west wall line (890, 893) may have been organized for pottery storage. The walls (713, 750, 892) running north from the north side of the east-west wall line may suggest a series of chambers, which may in fact continue all the way east to D14 and D17. There is evidence that two of these chambers were for craft work and metallurgy.

Square M-N20 (fig. 5)

Figure 5: Square M-N20

Square M-N20, supervised by Carl Andrews, is not located on a round 5 meter grid position (fig. 1). It actually straddles squares N20 and M20. We had to shift its location due to the enormous amounts of modern material dumped here. Such modern dumped material generally increases to the north and west in Area A. At M-N20, the front loader was required to remove material dumped in the 1980's and 1990's for a height of nearly 4 meters. M-N20, therefore, was at the bottom of a trench cut through this modern debris.

Carl Andrews in M-N20 Along the west side of the square there are two large pedestals (759, 760), built of broken stone and mud mortar. East of these pedestals, mudbrick walls (790, 792) enclosed a long narrow gallery, or magazine, the interior walls of which were lightly plastered with tafla (desert clay). The magazine opened on the south to a step down along a threshold with thicker tafla plastering and a lower surface paved with gypsum. Just inside this threshold, against the west wall, we found a red ware jar standing upright. There was a hearth embedded in the floor (811) at the back center of the magazine. A crude ceramic cooking tray was embedded in the blackened floor and ash.

Square M-N20 with pyramids in background The east and north part of the square remained problematic at the end of the season. Most of this area is covered by mudbrick at different levels. The whole actually has the appearance of a continuous mudbrick terrace (847,850,869). We possibly have walls (847, 869) defining another, narrower magazine, although this is not certain, principally because there is a thin wall (773) across what would be at the south end, and because the "floor" of the "magazine" is covered with a lower layer of bricks. Below wall 773, across the "threshold," we found another plastered step somewhat on-line with the step across the entrance of the western magazine.

The central mass of brick (790 + 869) is about 1.50 to 1.60 meters thick, and it may line up with the 1.50-meter thick wall running north from the corner where the bakeries are attached (fig. 1). However, the line is interrupted along the south side of square M-N20 by a corridor defined by an east-west mudbrick wall (766) that is partially excavated, but partially embedded in the south balk. The bottom of the corridor, shown blank in fig. 5 like the eastern "magazine," actually has a mudbrick pavement at the east and west ends. In this square we may be seeing different phases—a later building superimposed on an earlier one.

Square I17 (fig. 6)

Figure 6: Square I17

This was the last square that we opened this season. John Nolan refused to realize that when archaeologists move into positions of directing (John acted as Assistant Director this season), they administrate more than excavate. So he insisted on taking a look into I17. Recall that we had laid out I17 (fig. 1) in the hopes of finding part of the core house or institution to which the industries of the outer enclosure were attached. We were, therefore, surprised to find the closest thing we have seen in our excavations since 1988 to a small modular house like those in workmen's towns at other sites from later periods.

John Nolan in Square I-17 We began to excavate the ancient deposits within I17 as late as March 6, and so we have only partially excavated the first phase of these deposits. I17 is located 15 meters north and 15 meters west of the areas where we found evidence of fish-processing in 1995 in squares F19 and G20 (fig. 1). Underneath the architectural decay and tumble, the plan of a small structure quickly came to light. It is defined by stone rubble walls (825, 826, 839), like the bakeries that we found in 1991. However, thin mudbrick walls (871, 848) project from the south wall of the structure. Together the walls form the closest thing we have found to a simple house plan. To the east, the first mudbrick partition wall (848) may form an entrance at the northeast corner of the structure. Inside, the second mudbrick partition wall (871, 872) gives the sense of an extremely simplified divided court house plan, leaving two main rooms. In the first room to the east, mud and debris had been encased with mud bricks (925) to form a platform (870). The inner room contained a good deal of ash (876), perhaps from a simple hearth. It appears as though a similar structure may lie in the unexcavated north half of I17.

The similarity of this structure to a workman's house was a surprise to us. On the other hand, it may not be a house at all, but another workshop. Many flint tools or parts of tools were found in the deposits in this structure. A high priority for next season is to expand our excavations in and around I17, and to link up with the area where we found the low benches and evidence of fish processing in 1995.

(continue: Square D19 and the Older Phase)

Photos: Carl Andrews and Mark Lehner


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