Urban Development of the City of Magdala/Tarichaeae in the Light of the New Excavations: Remains, Problems and Perspectives
Stefano De Luca
SBF- Magdala Project
Abstract of the paper presented at the Symposium: Greco-Roman Galilee
The systematic archaeological excavations carried out since 2007 by the «Magdala Project» Team and directed by the writer in the site of the ancient Magdala/Tarichaeae, have extended our knowledge of the city by opening new fields (Area H) and reaching new strata in the areas excavated during the 1971-1976 campaigns by the SBF.
The earliest levels reached until now, allow us to fix the foundation of the city at least to the first Hasmonean age. To the II century B.C., in fact, lead some important habitative and monumental remains.
The urban layout is designed according to an easily identifiable Hippodamean plan. The original width of the southern portion of Cardo Maximus, covered in the late antiquity by pylons of the aqueduct, is now known and a new paved Decumanus have been brought on light in the area H. The original intricate water networks run beneath the slabs of the Viae Publicae, supplying fresh water to the fountains.
The main water with channels, systems for drainage, water collectors, plants for heating and pressurization and the deep covered channels to discharge the water into the Lake, reveal an unitary and coherent plan.
The water supply system serves primarily the large Thermal Complex which included, according to the new excavations, the all Areas East of Cardo Maximus, i.e. Areas C, D, E, as well as the large Quadriporticus (F).
The excavations of the six stepped pools of the Thermae, brought to light a large quantity of findings, including organic, exceptionally preserved in the water-saturated muddy strata.
Regarding the use of the thermal complex, two phases have been identified that seem to correspond to the major urban re-organisation of this quarter of Magdala: 1th century B.C – 1th century A.D and half of 3th century A.D. – half of 4th century A.D.. Between the I and II phase would be placed the dramatic events of the First Jewish Revolt (66-67 A.D.) described by Josephus, to which many stratigraphical evidences of destruction and abandonment can be related. The second phase apparently ends as result of the traumatic earthquake dated to 363 A.D. which is also documented by the archaeological evidences. To the 4th Century leads the common pottery, according to the currently used Galilean pottery typologies. However coins, oil lamps and small finds from the same contexts suggest an earlier chronology.
The large Quadriporticus F served as Palaestra for the visitors of the Thermae and, both in its Hasmonean and Herodian phase, had, in the Eastern branch, a built-in quay. The newly discovered harbour of Tarichaeae, includes in situ: massive foundations of a tower with casemate, an Hasmonean wall built of ashlar stones with dressed margins, ramps for recovering ships, a staircase, a large L shaped basin with breakwater and 6 mooring stones incorporated in the painted plastered wall. These structures, representing the most preserved ancient harbour discovered until now along the shores of the Lake Kinneret, force us to reconsider the function of this southern quarter and to protect the site from the ongoing building projects in the area.
(Translated by A. Lena, Magdala Project)