Enter the Romans?

The excavations in the lower town in Operation T have almost finished clearing off the plow zone, although the bottom of the scars left by the plows are still visible as long parallel furrows in the excavation area. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we expected to find Late Assyrian architecture close to the surface. To our surprise, however, we have started to recover artifacts dating to the Roman period, including rooftiles and a very distinctive Roman pottery type previously not documented at Ziyaret Tepe.

The top right hand corner of this photograph shows the roof of our current dig house which has, as you can see, a tile roof using baked clay as a building technology which is nearly 2000 years old in this region (although the most common form of roof is a flat compressed mud roof laid over wooden beams and reeds). The top left corner is a fragmentary roof tile we found at Ziyaret Tepe in 2003 in Operation J in the western lower town. Below left are a few of the fragments that have been recovered in the past few days in Operation T. The shape of the tiles is very distinctive. Below right is a piece of fine ceramic ware, just the rim and part of the body of a vessel, that is very likely to be of Roman date.

Does this mean that there is a Roman house in the lower town in Operation T? Not necessarily. We know from elsewhere at Ziyaret Tepe that Roman roof tiles were sometimes re-used for later buildings.

That said, this morning Kemalettin showed me some stone wall foundations that may be associated with the rooftiles. We’ll need a few more days of digging to get to the bottom of this deposit. What does seem certain is that this part of the lower town was inhabited or used, perhaps only briefly, after the end of the Assyrian period in 610 BC.

About matney

Dr. Matney is Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology and Classical Studies at the University of Akron. He is the Director of the Ziyaret Tepe Archaeological Expedition.
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