T90 was be opened for the following reasons:
- To search for greater evidence of occupation in the area of EPOC4 predating EPOC4’s construction.
- To determine if EPOC4’s siting was influenced by earlier activities in this area.
- To clarify the nature of the semi-circular stone feature and determine whether production occurred in domestic spaces, even elite ones, in the early 7th century.
T90 was somewhat successful in meeting these goals.
When we sectioned through the floor of EPOC4, we found ample evidence for occupation in the area of EPOC4 predating the building’s construction. Specifically, we uncovered substantial evidence of metalworking, especially for the extraction of copper and for bronze production. In the strata beneath the floor of EPOC4 (Loci 9 and 10), we found exceptionally high quantities of ferric slag and crucible fragments; ferric slag results from the extraction of copper ores from mixed copper and iron cores, while crucible fragments are the vessels in which this extraction occurred. We found less ferric slag and crucible fragments in and on the floor of EPOC4 (Locus 8) than in the earlier strata , but we still recovered enough of these materials to indicate that copper extraction and bronze working occurred in the front porch of EPOC4.
This continuity of metalworking is intriguing. It suggests that metalworking may have factored into the decision to site EPOC4 in its particular location. The high quantities of slag and crucible fragments found on and in the floor of EPOC4 indicate that metalworking may have occurred in a domestic setting. Excavations in earlier strata, underlying EPOC4’s floor, suggest the presence of an earlier structure in which metalurgy occurred. At the bottom of Locus 10, a burnt deposit beneath EPOC4’s floor, we began to uncover a packing of medium-sized stones. These stones, while only exposed in an area of approximately 1.5 x 1.5 meters, appear to have been placed in an arc and may be the foundations of a curvilinear hut. Immediately above this stratum, in Locus 9, we recovered numerous examples of plaster with reed and post impressions. If these stones are the foundations of a hut, it likely had wattle and daub walls, from which the plaster fragments came. The exceptionally high quantities of slag and crucible fragments found in these two strata suggest that metalurgy was practiced frequently in this potential structure. The structure likely was destroyed in a fire, based on the burnt deposit of Locus 10 overlying the newly discovered stone feature. When this structure was destroyed, it appears that debris from this structure infilled low-lying areas caused by bedrock outcroppings, helping to form a more level surface for the construction of EPOC4. At present, we cannot definitively say whether there was a hut underlying EPOC4’s front porch, but the possibility is intruiguing and merits further work in 2018.
At present, the nature of the semi-circular stone feature in EPOC4’s floor is unclear. The removal of the northern wall of the later, rectilinear structure helped expose more of EPOC4’s floor to the north of the semi-circular stone feature, but the feature does not seem to extend further north. Instead, there seems to be a second, perhaps related stone packing. This second stone packing lacks the clear delineation and shape of the semi-circular stone feature and resembles a cobbling. The natures and functions of both stone features remains unclear and requires further excavation in 2018.
In conclusion, excavations in T90 in 2017 suggest the presence of an earlier hut predating EPOC4. If there was a hut located in the area that became the front porch of EPOC4, metalurgy was practiced extensively here. When the hut was destroyed, EPOC4 was built directly over the hut’s foundations. Furthermore, the practice of metalurgy continued in EPOC4, suggesting that production continued to occur in domestic spaces, even elite, monumental ones. This is in marked contrast to the slightly later structures of the Orientalizing Complex, in which production was removed from elite domestic spaces; in the Orientalizing Complex, production was moved to OC3 Workshop while OC1 Residence became an exclusively domestic space. However, based on the excavations in Civitate A in 2012 and 2013, it seems that production, specifically the extraction of copper ores and bronze working, continued to occur in non-elite domestic spaces. The separation of productive and domestic spaces may be related to increasing social stratification and the formation of elite identity. While non-elites continued to use their homes for production, elites ceased to engage in metalurgy directly and instead, commanded the resources, labor, and spaces necessary for production.
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