During the field season which took place in October 2011, the work already begun in the various zones of the archaeological park continued.
The northern part of the site contains the ruins of a church known as the “Crusader Cathedral”, which was largely preserved until the 19th century. Excavated – and partly rebuilt – during the extensive excavations carried out by the Lebanese authorities in the 1960s, this monument was the subject of new research this year. This aimed to characterise its architecture more fully, and to identify the annexes which were part of the structure. In a broader sense, this work also aimed to gain a greater understanding of the evolution of the area in which the church was established. The trenches dug this year confirmed that the site had been used during the Fatimid period, as the pottery dated to the beginnings of this occupation in the 10th-11th centuries. The Christian church was therefore constructed on this zone which had already been built upon. This demonstrates that the chronology of the zone is more complex than originally though, some modern writers having supposed that the church had been built on a site abandoned since the Byzantine period.
In the southern part of the town, three large monumental complexes had been identified during the investigations conducted between 1946 and 1975 under the guidance of the Emir Maurice Chebab. One of these is a thermal baths complex, and nearby stands the “tiered building”, a group of monumental structures whose function is poorly understood. A street was thought to pass between these two monuments. However, the renewed research on the site was able to demonstrate that what had initially been interpreted as a group of distinct structures was is fact a single, huge thermal baths complex, with an associated basilical hall. The chronology of this group of buildings, as that of the area of the town in which they were constructed, has not yet been well established, but is becoming clearer as the archaeological investigations progress.
Excavations also revealed settlements from the Hellenistic period, but it is the chronology of the thermal baths in particular that was able to be refined, even though a date has not yet been reliably established for the construction of the original core of the structure. The excavation of various pipes from the complex demonstrates that it underwent major modifications at the beginning of the 5th century. It is at that time that it reached such gigantic proportions as to subsume the three structures mentioned above. Later, during the 6th century, the complex is significantly reduced in size and a number of parts appear to no longer be in use. This is the case for some of the hot and tepid rooms. Eventually, the whole ensemble is totally abandoned during the 7th century, based on the dates provided by the pottery.
In parallel with the excavations, various specialists continued to analyse the artefacts, which included pottery and lithic material. Work also continued on the corpus of inscriptions. Lastly, the architects and topographer worked together on correcting and adding to the site map, as well as surveying old and new discoveries as accurately as possible.