PFP 2006 - summary of results

PFP 2006 - summary of results

The second season of the Porolissum Forum Project was conducted June 30-July 29, 2006. The Team consisted of about 40 members, half Romanian and half from the United States, Canada and Spain. The primary objective of the 2006 season was to establish the dimensions of the Forum's courtyard and to gain additional knoledge of the layout, function and chronology of structures in the area of the Forum. Four trenches were excavated.

Trench 4 was a long exploratory trench at the south end of the Forum. The stratigraphy and features revealed are quite complex, but an overview is provided here. The northernmost portion of the trench revealed a series of mortar levels which represent a sequence of pavements within the Forum's courtyard. The south side of the courtyard is defined by a porticus that is of the same construction phase as the presumed basilica (2004, Trench 2 and 2006, Trench 5). A stone wall extending south from the rear wall of the porticus seems to be an earlier feature that was incorporated into the forum, perhaps a shop.

The south end of Trench 4 bore evidence for an early Roman timber phase as well as a post-Roman phase. The early Roman phase is represented by a series of parallel carbon deposits consistant with the remains of a timber structure. There is no evidence for a date or function, although timber structures at other locations throughout Porolissum are Trajanic and Hadrianic. The late Roman or immediate post-Roman evidence is in the form of a crude trench that was dug parallel to the south side of the Forum. Alexandru Matei suggested that this ditch continues to the west and may have been a crude attempt to defend a late settlement.

Trench 5 was excavated at the southeast end of the presumed basilica. This was an interesting illustration of a destruction event. Shortly after breaking earth, we encountered a level of building stone which covered a deposit of roof tiles and charcoal. Below this was a porticus equal in date with that found in Trench 4. This section of the porticus is the continuation of the porticus found in 2004's Trench 2, some 30 meters to the west. This long porticus appears to have been a component of a basilica suggested by the magnetometry readings. In the post-Roman period this structure was both dismantled and destroyed. None of the furnishings, such as columns, have been recovered (although we find column bases). At some moment, the roof caught fire and collapsed; some time later the wall collapsed on top of the tiles. In the absense of chronological indicators, we are unsure of the exact sequence. We speculate that the fire caused severe damage to the roof. This was followed by the salvaging of building material, such as columns. Probably at a much later date, the wall collapsed.

Trench 6 was excavated several meters to the east of the north end of Trench 4. This trench revealed somewhat more of the south porticus as well as good evidence for post-Roman occupation. Atop the Roman phases were a series of crude walls that were likely the components of dwellings or storage areas. These features were set both onto the porticus and on what was the courtyard of the Forum. As to the porticus, the Team revealed two column bases and a portion of the rear wall of the porticus. This trench also yielded some of our most interesting finds, including coins that ranged in date between Domitian and Severus Alexander.

Trench 7 was opened on a slight elevation to the southeast of the Forum in the greater civic area of the city. This trench revealed a portion of what was likely a house. The only features are a short segment of wall that transected the trench. To the east of the wall was a hypocaust system. According to the magnometry readings, the region to the south and southeast of the Forum was densely packed with architectural features. We presume that this was the main residential area of the city. Within the hypocaust were large fragments of rubbish - pottery and animal bone. The size of the fragments is quite unusual compaired to other areas of the Forum. The large size of the fragments suggests that they must be close to their intial point of deposition. Whether or not these objects were used within this structure or are part of a larger garbage complex is not known

PFP 2006, Trench 4 - Severan phase wallsPFP 2006, Trench 5 - north edge of quadriporticusPFP 2006, Trench 7 - house (?)