November 5, 2012

Notes from the bath house

Filed under: Egypt, Field photos — acagle @ 7:13 am

[Note: photos delayed by network problems]

With photos! I snapped a few today as we were finally uncovering something recognizable and perhaps vaguely interesting. To recap: This Roman bath was first fully uncovered and somewhat restored/conserved in 1975. Since then not much has been done and it’s deteriorated quite a bit. I am in the process of removing all of the wind blown sand and garbage and wall collapse that has been accumulating since 1975. We’ve been working the last couple of days in the apodyterium or disrobing room, it’s the first room one enters before heading into the frigidarium.

So, here it is:

That is the apodyterium with the entrance steps leading in. You can see a bench over to the right of those which sit in front of a niche or perhaps a window. The frigidarium is farther right and is considered a separate room. Note how deep the sand is: 35 cm nearer the steps and increasing to 55 cm farther back where the guys are standing.

This is an odd and very large rock we unexpectedly found. The 1975 photos don’t show it there so it must have come in since then, but we’re having trouble finding it elsewhere close by, assuming it is from nearby and wasn’t just dumped there. We may have found it sitting next to the steps but it’s hard to tell. It shouldn’t be there anyway.

A decorative stone near the frigidarium tub. Hard to make out the detail, but it’s sort of a flower design.

This is the room I’m working in, the tepidarium. That pile of bricks is what I’d been pulling out of the sand on the floor. The ‘75 photos show that it still had part of a vaulted roof over it, but that has since fallen in and I am plowing through the rubble. Interestingly (I think), I’m finding many ceramic fragments that look like they came from the same vessel. . . .but they’re fairly widely scattered and at different depths. But they’re really mixed in with the fallen bricks. So it doesn’t seem as if there was a whole vessel sitting there when it all fell in, but I’m thinking perhaps they used a handy pot for sherds to use as chinking material when building the roof. Eh, it’s a hypothesis. I’m hoping we get enough of it for the ceramicist to date. Also note how convex the wall there is; very dangerous (“You go first”) IMO, and needs to be addressed ASAP (we have some architectural conservators coming in the next couple of weeks).

A close up of near the base of a wall in the tepidarium with a big chunk of wall plaster getting ready to fall of. Actually, it probably has already detached but is held up by brick tumble. I’m going to try to get it out without breaking it too much. Not for any good reason, it won’t say much about anything, but it’s a challenge.

And what no doubt would have been a typical scene around the 3rd century AD, a handsome young lad lounging around the bath. Minus the pants. And shirt. And scarf. But essentially the same!

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