Our excavations have continued to be interesting and productive, despite the heat wave that has held Italy in its clenches—dubbed “Scipione” by Italian meteorologists, as the wind blows up from Africa. Our team has been grateful for the nearby shade trees which we sit under during paperwork and for breaks, and we have been careful to keep our water cooler full.
Several team members have completed the painstaking task of uncovering a mosaic by carefully peeling back the dirt without causing a single tessera to pop out of place. The mosaic a white field with black bands at the edge, and is not decorated in any other way. Some portions of it are missing, so we are eager to preserve what is left—we are applying for permission to have it lifted, restored and reset within the next year.
The team in charge of pulling back layer after layer of sidewalk pavement in the area between the Synagogue and the Via Severiana may have reached “pay dirt” this week when they uncovered a surface layer that seems to run under the Via Severiana, perhaps pre-dating the construction of that road.
In other areas of the Synagogue, we have been surprised to discover that one reticulate wall runs much deeper than we had expected, and have also found some features (steps? foundations?) that certainly pre-date the existing structure. In the next week’s excavations we hope to learn more about these earlier features and perhaps will be able to build a more complete vision of the earlier phases of the building.