The 2009 campaign of the Porolissum Forum Project was conducted June 22-July 24 with a Team of about 45 members. While we are still far from a full understanding of the forum, this was an important field season which added considerably to our knowledge of the site’s chronology. We are also certain of the function of one structure.
By now, we have established the basic patterns of development in the area of the forum. The first phase (Trajanic) consisted in the construction of a large concentration of wooden buildings and earthen fortifications consistent with a fortress. During the early Antonine period, the wooden structures were dismantled and we note the construction of stone buildings. We are still uncertain about the function of the small number of Antonine structures excavated to date, but the fact that the structures surround the later forum’s courtyard and do not intrude within, suggests that the area already served the function of a forum by the mid 2nd century AD. Two coins from foundation trenches on the west side of the courtyard confirm the Antonine phase. The third phase, which represents the regularization of the forum appears to be Severan, based upon ceramic evidence. Such a building project makes sense if we consider the renaming of the city Municipium Septimium Porolissensis. The 2009 season yielded evidence of the "late" phase. Trench 22 revealed post holes piercing the cocciopesto floor and hearths on the floor an atop a broken wall; Trench 24 revealed a sequence of narrowing and raising a pair of doorways, one of which was used as a hearth at the latest phase. Whether this represents an odd late 3rd century use of space by the Romans or occupation in the immediate post-Roman period remains to be ascertained.
One of the many highlights of the 2009 season was confirmation that the feature excavated in 2004 in Trenches 1 and 3 was indeed a bath complex. This bath measured approximately 100 x 60 Roman feet. There is an extensive hypocaust system and the caldarium was situated on the south side. To date a single semicircular hot water basin has been identified.
We excavated the west side of the forum for the first time, revealing a series of architectural spaces whose function remains unclear. The features are united by three parallel walls; hence, it was built in a single phase together with the west porticus (Severan period). The south side of the structure is paved with a thick cocciopesto floor, suggesting liquids may have had a role in this building. The cocciopesto only forms a low molding at the base of the walls (it did not line the walls as in the caldarium, for example); therefore, we exclude the idea that this served as a water basin. One hypothesis is based on the idea that this overall complex served as a marketplace, namely that the area with the cocciopesto floor represents a macellum. A macellum is indeed one type of space that would frequently have liquids on the floor (i.e., blood of animals and water to clean the surface). The entire west side of the forum requires additional study.