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Kallirrhoe ('En ez-Zara): Drittes Grabungskampagne des Deutschen Evangelischen Instituts fur Altertumswissenschaft des Heiligen Landes und Exkursionen in Sud-Peraa.

Kallirrhoe ('En ez-Zara): Drittes Grabungskampagne des Deutschen Evangelischen Instituts fur Altertumswissenschaft des Heiligen Landes und Exkursionen in Sud-Peraa. By AUGUST STROBEL and STEFAN WIMMER. Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins, vol. 32. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2003. Pp. x + 106, plates. [euro]48.

The oasis of 'En ez-Zara lies on the northeast shore of the Dead Sea, about two kilometers south of Wadi Zarqa Ma'in. Because perennial thermal springs dot the oasis, it was known in antiquity as Kallirrhoe (beautiful waters). Kallirrhoe is mentioned by several ancient authors including Josephus, who informs us that the ailing Herod was brought there for treatment in the healing waters shortly before his death in 4 B.C.E. (War 1.32.5; Ant. 17.6.5). Herod's son Antipas executed John the Baptist at the palace-fortress of Machaerus, which is located only six kilometers from Kallirrhoe, atop a rocky summit overlooking the Dead Sea. On the sixth-century Madaba mosaic map, the "thermal springs of Kallirrhoe" are depicted as three large pools set among palm trees.

August Strobel conducted excavations at 'En ez-Zara when he served as director of the German Evangelical Institute for Archaeological Research in the Holy Land. The final report on the first two seasons (1985-86) was published by Christa Clamer (1997). The present volume represents the final report on the third and last excavation season (1989), which was conducted with the assistance of Stefan Wimmer. The volume contains an introduction with an overview of all three excavation seasons (Strobel), a detailed description of the architecture and stratigraphy of the remains excavated in 1989 (Wimmer), a chapter with reports on coins, stone vessels, other small finds, and chemical and geological analyses (various authors), discussions of historical problems relating to the life and death of Herod the Great, especially chronological issues (Strobel), and a chapter describing other sites in the region that were surveyed by the German expedition (Strobel). The last chapter includes a consideration of the location of Herodium in Arabia, for which Strobel proposes three possible candidates in the area of Wadi el-Mujib (the Biblical Arnon), to the south of 'En ez-Zara (for an overview of this problem, see Roller 1998: 168-69, who favors a location further to the north).

The German expedition discovered remains belonging to different periods in a number of spots around the oasis. The most substantial remains, in the excavation's Area II, belong to a large structure with two wings, designated Building A and Building B, which Strobel describes as a "villa maritima." Few remains survive in situ above ground level due to earthquakes and flooding, the plundering of building materials for secondary use, and modern plowing. Building A consists of a large courtyard with rooms on all four sides, measuring ca. 29 x 35 m. Molded stucco fragments and a pink limestone opus sectile tile provide evidence of rich interior decoration. Building B has a large rectangular room in the center (a triclinium?) surrounded by rooms. Basalt column drums and bases (originally stuccoed) were scattered around Building A, mostly in secondary use in later walls. Strobel and Wimmer restore a colonnade encircling the north, east, and south sides of the central courtyard of Building A, whereas Clamer (1997: 110) shows a colonnade encircling a courtyard to the east of the "triclinium" in Building B (and perhaps along the west side of the central courtyard in Building A; for a comparison between the plans of the structure at 'En ez-Zara and Herod's palaces at Jericho, see Clamer 1997: 107).

Because Building A is better preserved, it received more attention in the excavations and publications than Building B. During the third season, Building A was more fully exposed, revealing the existence of a large room (k) on the west side of the central courtyard. The excavators identify this room as a triclinium because of its prominent position. A large plastered pool (u) (9.5 m long by 3 m wide by 3.14 m deep) that was apparently filled by spring water was located against the inner side of the east wall of Building A, across the courtyard from room k. Although not identified as such by the excavators, this pool is apparently a miqveh (Jewish ritual bath), as indicated by the staircase occupying its width which is divided into two sets of three steps each by a broad platform (see Magness 2002: 144-45, with bibliography pp. 159-60). Miqva'ot have also been found at Herod's other desert palaces, including Jericho and Masada (see for example Netzer 2001: 214-15; 1991: 158, 261). The discovery of numerous fragments of stone vessels (all in Building A according to Clamer 1997: 79), many of which were found in close proximity to the pool, provides additional evidence for the observance of Jewish purity laws at Kallirrhoe. Strobel suggests that the stone vessels may reflect the presence of Jewish troops at the site, though he notes that they could also have been used by members of Herod's household.

Buildings A and B were constructed in the late first century B.C.E., apparently late in Herod's reign. Most of the dating evidence is provided by pottery and coins. Unfortunately, Strobel and Wimmer illustrate only a few pieces of pottery, promising a separate report in the future. Therefore, it is impossible to evaluate their identification (contra Clamer) of a late Hellenistic/Hasmonean occupation phase (Stratum IV), which they claim is represented not architecturally but only by finds. Clamer's exhaustive study of the pottery from the first and second seasons includes no clearly Hasmonean types. Furthermore, only one Hasmonean coin--an issue of Alexander Jannaeus--was found in the excavations (published by Clamer 1997: 91). Otherwise the earliest coins consist of a single issue of Herod the Great and two Nabataean coins of the late first century B.C.E. An intact ovoid jar sunk into the floor of a room in Building A is associated with the initial occupation phase late in Herod's reign (see Clamer 1997: 52, 137, plt. 12:15; republished by Strobel and Wimmer). A similar intact ovoid jar was associated with the foundation of the contemporary "officina" building at Ein Boqeq at the southwest end of the Dead Sea (see Fischer, Gichon, and Tal 2000: 10, 57, fig. 2.7:1; for a discussion of ovoid jars see Magness 2002: 80).

Buildings A and B were apparently destroyed at the time of the siege of Machaerus (72 C.E.); the finds include nine coins of the First Jewish Revolt dating to 67-68 C.E. According to Clamer, Strobel, and Wimmer, the site was reoccupied in the last quarter of the first century. Indeed, the pottery includes types characteristic of this period, as Clamer notes. However, the possibility of continued occupation (or reoccupation after a hiatus) at the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt is suggested by two coins of Hadrian (published by Strobel and Wimmer), as well as some of the pottery (see Clamer 1997: 139, plt. 13:19; 151, plt. 19:6, 7). Other sites along the shores of the Dead Sea, including Qumran and Ein Boqeq, have yielded evidence for limited activity or occupation at the time of this revolt. During the Byzantine period (second half of the fourth century and fifth century), parts of Building A were rebuilt and reoccupied. But by the time the Madaba mosaic map was laid, Kallirrhoe had long been abandoned. The thermal pools depicted so prominently in the mosaic either have not left identifiable remains or are an anachronistic element from an earlier period.

Readers will encounter a number of difficulties with this volume. First, whereas Clamer uses three-digit numbers to designate loci, Strobel and Wimmer use letters (for example, Clamer's L334 = Strobel and Wimmer's g). To add to the confusion, some of the finds (such as the stone vessels) are described as coming from loci with four-digit numbers (such as 1130) which do not appear on the site plans or in the text. Furthermore, Strobel and Wimmer frequently refer to grid numbers but do not reproduce the grid plan (see Clamer 1997: 4). For these reasons, this volume must be used together with Clamer's report, which it supplements and updates. The full and final publication of this important site is a welcome addition to the growing body of information about settlements in the Dead Sea region in the late Second Temple period.




Clamer, Christa. 1997. Fouilles archeologiques de 'Ain ez-Zara/Callirrhoe, villegiature herodienne. Beirut: Institut Francais d'archeologie du Proche-Orient.

Fischer, Moshe; Mordechai Gichon; and Oren Tal. 2000. 'En Boqeq, Excavations in an Oasis on the Dead Sea, vol. II: The Officina, An Early Roman Building on the Shore of the Dead Sea. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.

Magness, Jodi. 2002. The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

Netzer, Ehud. 1991. Masada III, The Yigael Yadin Excavations 1963-1965, Final Reports: The Buildings, Stratigraphy and Architecture. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

______. 2001. Hasmonean and Herodian Palaces at Jericho, Final Reports of the 1973-1987 Excavations, volume I: Stratigraphy and Architecture. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Roller, Duane W. 1998. The Building Program of Herod the Great. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press.
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Author:Magness, Jodi
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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