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Reports from the Field: Day 8 @ El Araj

El Araj Excavations Day 8 (Week 2/Day 4). Today included some of the most significant finds this season which are bringing the history of el Araj into clearer focus. We began our day once again under a beautiful sunrise over the Golan Heights. In the morning in square A-1 (where last year we found remains from a Roman bath house) we discovered an early Roman coin. Although the details are not visible from my iPhone picture there is clearly the head of a figure and a legend with letters along the edge. This find was quickly followed by a piece of Roman marble belonging to an important installation. As we continued to expand the early Roman level two pieces of red (Pompeiian styled) fresco were uncovered. Several bricks were found and a portion of tubuli (vents for a Roman bath house). Then late in the morning once again we uncovered a new portion of mosaic from the Roman bath house. This continues to be the most compelling evidence of the urbanization of Bethsaida that took place when (according to Josephus, the Jewish historian) Herod Philip transformed the Jewish fishing village of Bethsaida into the polis of Julias. While these finds are very important, the three new squares in Area B should not be overlooked. The volunteers have worked hard to uncover Byzantine flooring that runs alongside a long and significant Byzantine wall that belonged to a public building. Hopefully in the next two weeks we will be able to identify the purpose of this structure and its relationship to the Byzantine Church of Peter and Andrew.

Tesserae and tubuli from a Roman bath house.

Roman fresco.

A portion of tubuli - ceramic vent for a Roman bath house.

The long Byzantine wall is the one in the middle of the picture that starts at the bottom and continues under the purple and green buckets. There is a space between it and the later Crusader wall (on the right). The Byzantine wall continues the length of our dig thus far (3 squares or about 50 yards).

Tom Guilliams standing on a Byzantine floor in square B-2.

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