The excavation campaigns
Pierre-Louis Gatier (CNRS, UMR 5189 – HISOMA)
The sixth season of excavations and survey took place from the 7th-26th of October 2013. The main priority was the investigation of the mosque which predated the cathedral (Zone 1) and the Byzantine martyrium recently identified to the east of the site (Zone 4), but also the latrines of the thermal baths complex (Zone 2) and the western palestra (Zone 3). Work also continued on the topographical and architectural map of the site, in particular thanks to the clearing of vegetation from some areas and the digging of new trenches.
Two trenches were dug in Zone 1 (cathedral), one in the north transept and the other in the nearby cistern, contemporary with the Frankish cathedral. These aimed to uncover the phases predating the church, in particular to identify the wall of the Fatimid mosque which preceded it. While the presence of a later pit prevented the recovery of indisputable elements of the foundations of a mosque in the transept trench, the Roman layers (house or shop floors and pipes) were recorded.
In Zone 4, thanks to the removal of vegetation from new areas, and by continuing the work of the 2012 season, topographical and architectural surveys were conducted on the martyrium, especially its northern part, and on the streets surrounding it, particularly to the north-east. Numerous pieces of the marble architectural decorations were recorded.
Work on the Proto-Byzantine thermal baths complex (Zones 2 and 3) focused on the latrine building, where a trench in the northern area revealed its final phase, dated to the Islamic period (Umayyad-Abbasid). The area around the western palestra was also examined.
To the west of the latter, excavation and survey indicate a Hellenistic period date for the construction of the two series of five cisterns present in this area. Their abandon, prior to the construction of the Roman wall, also took place in the Hellenistic period.