Studia Palmyreńskie — 10.1997

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by Tomasz Scholl and Ahmed Taha

7n 1985, on the occasion of the reconstruction of the Ottoman Saray in Palmyra which is
housing now the Ethnographic Museum, Maria Krogulska and Ahmad Taha proceeded
to the test excavations in the courtyard of this building, located some 100 m north-east from
the NW comer of the sanctuary of Bel. The first objective of the operation was of course to
check what archaeological remains there subsisted in the sector to be durably excluded from
further research by the arrangement of the Museum. There was also a hope that the early
strata sealed beneath the Bel temple could appear more accessible outside of the sanctuary
but close to the tell on which it stands.

Three trial pits have been opened, marked A, B and C. The pit C, perpendicular to the
western wall of the Saray, produced no remarkable results. Down to the depth of 1.20 m no
clear traces of a foundation trench of the wall were found, while the investigated layers
contained some remains of the French military presence in the thirties, such as army buttons
and champagne bottles, mixed up with fragments of Early Islamic and Roman pottery. The
trial pit B was parallel to the former but located further to the north. It was 1.20 m wide, 4.60
m long and 2 m deep. In this sounding the archaeological layers were also very much
disturbed by the foundations of rooms built against the western wall of the building by the
French army. Finally, the trial pit A was dug in the middle of the courtyard and had a
general north-south orientation, parallel to the western wall. The layers here were similar to
those found in pits C and B.

Undeterred by these rather meagre results, Ahmad Taha associated in 1986 with Tomasz
Scholl to extend and deepen the area of the trial pit A. The trench was to reach eventually 10
m through 5 m, running roughly in the middle of the courtyard (PL III). In the course of the
excavation four parallel walls with deep foundations reaching the virgin soil were unearth-
ed, running obliquely across the trench.


The latest traces of settlement connected with the Saray or immediately preceding its con-
struction were recorded in the northern part of the trench A (PL 1.1). These included small
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