2012 Excavation Season Under Way

The 33 OSMAP 2012 team members

Week one of the excavations at the synagogue was a great success.  We have expanded our core staff this year with the hire of an additional ceramicist to expedite the analysis of the pottery, and we now have a full-time assistant for our GIS specialist.  The excavation team is larger than ever before and is comprised of archaeologists who are new to the site as well as a number of OSMAP veterans.

Our 2012 trenches have been strategically placed to answer questions about the building phases of the Synagogue Complex.  By the end of the season we should have a much clearer understanding of the relationship between the Via Severiana and the synagogue, the building phases of the “nymphaeum” (Building 2), and the development and renovations in Room 17 (pantry?), which abuts the Room 16 kitchen.

We have already had a number of interesting finds and surprises this week, and I’ll share one with you here.  Within the preparation layer for the plaster floor in Room 17, one of our eagle-eyed excavators discovered a cluster of objects which included 2 dice, a small 4th century coin, and a ceramic disc game piece.  It seems that one unlucky gambler had a hole in his pocket when he was laying out the new floor!

4th century coin, dice and game piece in situ. The other die was discovered at a slightly higher level in the dirt, so isn’t shown in this photo.

One of two ancient dice found in a floor preparation level, alongside a ceramic disc game piece and a 4th century coin.