National Geographic : 1951 Dec
835 Cloth Cemented over a Mosaic Enables Workers to Remove an Inscription Thousands of tiny stones set in concrete carried a message from the past. Held by the stiffened cloth, they were removed intact. The mosaic was found in the Byzantine church at Khirbet en Nitla (pages 838, 844). of Augustus Caesar.* The construction is similar to that found in the villa of the Latin poet Horace, for example. Much of Pompeii is of a related architecture, but there brick was used along with the stone. The layout itself, as we can picture it from the ruins, was that of a transplanted Roman civic center. As has been indicated, the facade acted as a retaining wall between the hillside and a level area stretching to the bank of the wadi. At either end of the facade, massive walls extended at right angles in the direction of the stream. Originally there was a third wall, nearer the wadi and running parallel to the facade, but very little of this remains. Steps lead down from the street level at the western end. All this suggests a sports arena where the type of games favored throughout the Roman Empire might have been conducted, or a garden where the king entertained guests. Just outside this enclosed area on either end of the facade are units consisting of one large barrel-vaulted hall and small adjacent rooms. The front of each hall appears to have been decorated with a small arch at the extreme end followed by a larger arch rest ing on two pilasters projecting from the wall. Many fragments of columns coated with fluted plaster were discovered in the debris in front of the east hall, together with many stamped plaster fragments. These columns probably supported a light ceiling of plaster laid on bundles of reeds. The structure would thus have been a pleasant pergola in which royal guests could loll on hot days. One of these groups of rooms had an 8 inch aqueduct leading into it, suggesting a fancy fountain complex for air condition ing. In the light of these discoveries, our most modern resorts do not seem such a far cry in comfort from those in the days of the Pax Romana. Coins Point to Archelaus as Builder While the discovery of such foreign archi tecture was surprising, it squared easily with the history of Herod's life and times. Herod journeyed often to the capital of the great Roman empire to make certain that his politi cal position was solid. Indeed, after one of these visits to the emperor, he may have brought back with him the master artisans who created Jericho. It is possible, however, that the walls unearthed to date were erected by his son Archelaus, who reigned from 4 B.c. to A.D. 6. Indicating that Archelaus may have been the builder is a cache of coins found in the ruins. The earliest coin is one of his era and the latest A.D. 86. The coins were under * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "The Roman Way," by Edith Hamilton, and "Ancient Rome Brought to Life," by Rhys Carpenter, both November, 1946; and "Augustus-Emperor and Ar chitect," by W. Coleman Nevils, October, 1938.