Halfway through OSMAP ’12 Excavation Season!

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.

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Kimberly Bauser and Mitch McDavid clean the mosaic with all-natural sponges and distilled water.

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.

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Cavan Concannon kneels on a surface that may pre-date the construction of the Via Severiana.

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.

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About Mary Jane Cuyler

Mary Jane is a research associate in the Department of Ancient History at the University of Sydney, where she recently completed her Ph.D. Her research focuses on the development of the urban landscape at Ostia during the late Republic and early Empire.

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