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  arc 2006 DOA Report elephant elephant

Report prepared for Fawwaz Al-Kraysheh
By Martha Sharp Joukowsky, Director
8 August 2006

The Brown University Petra Great Temple Excavations 2006

Brown University Petra Great Temple archaeologists excavated numerous trenches focusing on the Roman-Byzantine Bath Complex to the west of the Great Temple. We also elucidated the stratigraphy of the Theatron in the Great Temple. These excavations took place between June 17 and August 4, 2006. These investigations can be found outlined on the Fig. 1, the 2006 Annotated Site Plan and Figs. 2-3 the 2006 trench plans (Given on disc). Fig. 4 is an aerial photograph of the site after the 2006 excavations.

Our excellent Jordanian Department of Antiquity representatives were Suleiman Farajat and Mohammad Abdel Aziz Al-Marahleh.


Figure 5: Aerial photograph of the site after the 2006 season


The Great Temple site was completely surveyed and measured in 2006 by Head Surveyor, Marshall Agnew. In addition to measuring the entire temple complex—8500 survey points were taken—as can be seen in Figs. 1-4 (on disc), Agnew also documented a detailed 3-D plan for publication and future reconstruction. Additionally he prepared a plan for the conservation and protection of the Trench 126 Hypocaust System, endangered by being exposed to the elements.

Seven trenches in the bath complex were excavated. Trench 122 measured 7.90 m north south-by-9.00 m east west. Here in the Lower Temenos the west access to the Great Temple precinct, a grand stairway, the West Entry Stairs, was recovered in 2005. To complete our knowledge, the threshold for the top of the stairs for entry to the Great Temple Lower Temenos was discovered in 2006.

In the Great Temple itself only one trench, Trench 123, was excavated by Emma Susan Libonati in the Theatron. It involved the removal of two rows of seats on the Cavea west side to elucidate the stratigraphy. Fig. 6 shows the theatron before excavation, Fig. 7 shows the removal of the theater seating, and Fig. 8 illustrates the sondage under the structure.


Fig. 6:  The Theatron before excavation


Fig. 7: Removal of seating in the Theatron,


Fig. 8: Theater Sondage

In light of the Theatron sondage, we conclude there were earlier structures in the interior temple prior to the construction of the distyle in antis structure. There was a dry laid fieldstone wall structure below a plaster floor, which can be associated with the distyle in antis building, indicating that there was earlier building on the site even before the distyle temple was constructed.  

The Roman Byzantine Bath Complex

In the 2005 excavations of the Upper Temenos West Precinct Wall, (Fig. 9) an elegant Roman Bath complex was discovered with bathrooms and a frigidarium accessed by an elegant marble-covered room with semicircular features at each of its four corners.


Fig. 9: The Roman Byzantine Bath Complex before excavation 2006, to the south.


Fig. 10: Aerial view of the 2006 Roman Byzantine Baths

We decided that we would attempt to recover more information about this complex; five trenches were excavated and this area covering 880 square meters was defined.

Trench 121 measured 9.00 m north south-by-13.00 m east west. Here, under the direction of Arta Khakpour, was found the north wall of the bath complex and an indoor and outdoor division of activity within a great plaza composed of white sandstone pavers bisected by a foundation wall.  At the east edge of this plaza were the remains of six hypocaust columns indicating that there is at least one as yet undiscovered hot room—Caldarium or Tepidarium located here.


Fig. 11: The upper plaza for the bath complex, Trench 121, 2006.

To the south, adjacent to Trench 121, is Trench 126, excavated by Christopher A. Tuttle, measuring 4.55 m north south-by-13.00 m east west. Here was found a hypocaust chamber with a suspended floor above two vaults constructed at the same level as the

hypocaust columns, both with round and  square piers. Here was also found a partial Latin inscription, an iron horse harness, a silver bracelet and a carnelian bead.


Fig. 12: A partial inscription found in the Caldarium Trench 126.


Fig. 13: Detail of the hypocaust chamber of Trench 126.

Again to the south and adjacent to Trench 126 is Trench 127, measuring 9.00 m north south-by-16.00 m east west. These excavations were under my direction. Here there are two east west long rooms; on the north is the Praefurnium, the main heating source for the baths. Adjacent and to the south of the Praefurnium is a Caldarium and a large domed Tepidarium. Access from the Tepidarium took the bather-client into the Vestibule Room excavated in 2005.


Fig. 14: The Caldarium to the east ending in the Tepidarium.


Fig. 15: One of the eight inscriptions found in the Impluvium of Trench 127 presumably dating to the 3rd century CE.

Trench 120 is the formal elegant area of the bath complex. Under the direction of Eleanor A. Power five new rooms were exposed including a colonnaded corridor along the south of the complex, an anteroom leading into a bathroom adjacent to a reservoir covered with hydraulic plaster and the central focus is a central ornamental pool that possibly served as fountain. The earliest bath construction is Roman pre-annexation in date, approximately 70 CE.


Fig. 16: The Bath Complex. To the right is the colonnaded corridor, in the center is the bathroom, to the left is the ornamental pool, and to the rear are the well, the vestibule-reception room and the Frigidarium.


Fig. 17: The bathroom of the Roman Byzantine Bath Complex

In the blocking of a canalization system the Roman inscription shown below was found.  A number of structural reconfigurations of the water systems of the baths resulted from earthquake action. Other notable finds are 20-30 coins, complete lamps, reused triglyphs, a head of Helios and painted wave patterned painted decoration. 


Figure 18: A Roman Inscription used as a blocking stone in the canalization.

As part of our research of the bath complex, an investigation was undertaken in an area formerly thought to the bathrooms by Emma Susan Libonati. Trench 125 measured 1.93 m north south by 2.52 m east west and it is reasoned to be a well room. Here there are three hemispherical niches plus one rectangular niche used for drawing water. A subterranean water conduit system leading in from the east and exiting to the west was followed at a 2.00 m depth underground for 9.00 m. The finds from this conduit and the well itself were abundant and include 14 coins, beads of amber and faïence, glass, a bone pin, a complete Byzantine lamp, plus a juglet and various vessels that served for drawing water.  


Besides the inscriptions shown above, our cataloguer, Deirdre G. Barrett, recorded 123 objects of which 93 were coins, 10 inscriptions, plus 7 lamps, and a silver bracelet.

2006 Field Team

Brown University archaeologists included Martha Sharp Joukowsky, Director, Artemis A. W. Joukowsky, Photographer, and five supervisors served as most valued staff members, including Emma Susan Libonati, Marshall C. Agnew and Eleanor A. Power, (Surveyors), Christopher A. Tuttle, Tarek M. Khanachet, and Süreya Köprülü. Deirdre G. Barrett served as our Registrar-Cataloguer and lamp expert, Christian Augé again analyzed our coins, and Margaret O’Hea spent two weeks at the site as our Glass Consultant.

2006 Sponsors

This campaign would not have been possible without the generous assistance of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, Fawwaz al-Kraysheh, Director, and Suleiman Farajat Director of the Petra National Park, Suleiman Farajat and Mohammad Abdel Aziz Al-Marahleh, our Department of Antiquities Representatives, and the American Center of Oriental Research, Barbara A. Porter, Director.  We would also like to express our thanks to Brown University and to the generous assistance of the Luther I, Replogle Foundation for making this season possible.

This was a most rewarding excavation season at the Petra Great Temple with its impressive Roman-Byzantine Bath Complex.

Martha Sharp Joukowsky, Director

August 2, 2006

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