Although Concordia did not send a team for the 2014 season, Dr. Mark Schuler and area supervisor Darryl Schmidt did spend the first week of July at Sussita doing maintenance on the Northeast Insula. “Maintenance” means pulling weeds, removing small areas of tumble, and recovering mosaic floor exposed over the winter. In addition, Schuler and Schmidt completed work from the previous season. They exposed the rest of a small and late room built over the remains of the southeast corner of the House of Tyche. Next to the bench in the corner, they recovered a nearly intact Roman juglet, the form of which resembled a small amphora, only with one handle. Two additional projects completed the week. A small probe was dug to bedrock in the sleeping chamber east of the apse of the Northeast Church. There Darryl recovered a fine Hellenistic drinking bowl. We also documented the cistern in the paved plaza between the Alpha and Beta buildings using a laser. The cistern is bell shaped and about 4.5 m deep. See the report for 2014 for full detail.
While uncovering the southern section of the east room of the House of Tyche, excavators retrieved fragments of an ancient fresco decorating the room. The fragments were no longer attached to the walls of the room, but a reconstruction of a portion of the fresco is possible. Dr. Stephen Chambers was the primary excavator involved. We are currently looking for similar Byzantine frescoes from other sites.
After an overnight delay due to the cancellation of their Air Canada flight, the dig prep team (Laura, Erin, Jackie, and Dr. Schuler) have arrived at Kibbutz Ein Gev. They will attend the Tel Hai conference at the start of the week and then turn their energies to preparing the site and the lab for this year’s excavation.
In 2009, the Concordia Team discovered an inscription honoring Tarius Titianus, a governor of Syria Palestinae. On the third day of the 2011 season, a sharp-eyed volunteer, Concordia student Meghan O’Neill, spotted a stone with Greek writing on it in the area she was excavating. The find turned out to be another portion of the same inscription, providing the motive for so honoring Tarius Titianus … he was considered the “patron and builder of the fatherland.” Meghan’s discovery brings together the original inscription, an inscribed block found by the Haifa team in 2008, and this new piece to place Hippos well within the practice of Roman government and action in the Greek east which was honored by local citizens with such inscriptions. Congratulations, Meghan!
The full report on the 2010 season has now been published by the University of Haifa. Click here to order.
During the eleventh excavation season held by the University of Haifa a wall painting was found of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune. Also discovered was the relief of a maenad, a female companion of the god of wine, in the throes of a frenzied dance. A wall painting (fresco) of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune, was exposed during the 11th season of excavation at the Sussita site which was conducted by researchers of Haifa University. Another female figure was found during this season of a maenad, one of the companions of the wine god Dionysus. “It is interesting to see that although the private residence in which two goddesses were found was in existence during the Byzantine period when Christianity negated and eradicated idolatrous cults, one can still find clear evidence of previous beliefs”, said Professor Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who headed the excavation. The city of Sussita is located within the Sussita National Park under the management of the National Parks Authority which has given much assistance during this season as well for the continuation of excavation work and for the conservation of the archaeological finds. During the course of the excavations conducted by the team from the University of Concordia under the direction of Professor Mark Schuler in a residence that appeared, by the quality and complexity of its construction, to belong to one of the city notables, the excavators reached an inner courtyard with a small fountain at its center. Near the fountain they found a fresco of Tyche, who was apparently deified as the city goddess of fortune. Her head was crowned, her youthful gaze is focused, and she has abundant brown hair beneath her crown. According to the researchers, artistic analysis indicates that the wall painting may be dated to the end of the Roman period or the beginning of the Byzantine period (3rd – 4th centuries CE). The goddess Tyche was not the only mythological figure to be discovered in this compound. Found on a bone plate was a wonderfully etched relief of a maenad, one of a group of female followers of Dionysus, the god of wine. According to Greek mythology, the maenads accompanied Dionysus with frenzied dances while holding a thyrsus, a device symbolizing sexuality, fertility, and the male sexual organ associated with sexual pleasure. The maenad of Sussita was also depicted as being in the midst of a frenzied dance. The researchers believe that both manifestations of the cult of Graeco-Roman female goddesses can be dated to the end of the Roman period, but there is no doubt that the residence in which they were found continued to exist even after Christianity triumphed over idolatry. In this season the exposure was finally begun of the city’s Roman period basilica (1st – 2nd centuries CE), a large-sized building which incorporated the central commercial, social and judicial areas of the city. Besides the excellent architectural marble items that were unearthed, the researchers also found decorations made of “stucco”, molded plaster used in the imitation of marble. “We could not fail to wonder how a relatively plebeian city could employ first-class builders and artisans. The stucco decorations showed us that despite everything, the city rulers were certainly not sparing of the costs and expenditure of construction”, the researchers noted. Sussita was erected on a mountain top rising to the east of the Sea of Galilee during the 2nd century BCE by the Seleucid rulers who then controlled the country. The city existed during the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods until it was destroyed by a violent earthquake in the year 749 CE. Together with Beth Shean and other cities on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, Sussita was one of the cultural-geographical group of Decapolis cities – a region within which Jesus conducted some of the miracles described in the New Testament. University of Haifa Division of Communication and Media Relations Press Release August 4, 2010