Reviewed by Kevin Butcher
Israel Antiquities Authority Reports 37–38. Vol. 1, The Roman to Early Islamic Periods: Excavations in Areas A, B, E, F, G and H. Pp. viii + 187, figs. 128, pl. 1, tables 3, plans 20, map 1; vol. 2, Small Finds and Other Studies. Pp. vii + 248, figs. 93, pl. 1, tables 12, plans 4. Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem 2008. Price not available. ISBN 978-965-406-215-2 (vol. 1); 978-965-406-222-0 (vol. 2) (paper).
These two volumes present the work of a joint archaeological expedition consisting of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Nature Reserves Authority, and a consortium of universities from the United States and Greece, conducted between 1988 and 2000 at Banias, ancient Caesarea Philippi or Paneas. The site began to be investigated following the Six Day War in 1967 and has since been designated a nature reserve. The area under consideration is the central part of the site, south of the well-known Sanctuary of Pan (the object of a separate archaeological investigation).
After an introduction to the areas and an account of the architectural remains by broad cultural phases (with the admission that only Area B had intelligible stratigraphy [1:50]), there are treatments of the mosaics, ceramics, and glass. There are four mosaics, all with simple geometric patterns. One is an emblema dated to the first century C.E., and the others belong to a fourth-century basilica. Areas B, E, and F are singled out for more detailed discussion, with the material presented (ceramics and glass) as representative of various phases of the site. The pottery is mainly local ware; a Late Antique (fourth–fifth-century C.E.) assemblage from Area F includes regional storage vessels (pithoi) and amphoras. The dating relies closely on the numismatic finds and parallels from other sites. Glass finds from Early Roman to Medieval times are carefully described; most belong to the Late Roman period (Area F) and the Medieval period (Area B). The first volume is completed with a historical overview of Paneas that employs the archaeological evidence.
The second volume covers categories of finds other than pottery and glass: four Arabic inscriptions referring to the building activities of Zengid and Ayyubid governors; the coin finds (mainly Islamic, but ranging from the Ptolemies to the Ottomans); medieval grenades (sphero-conical vessels) of the 12th to 14th centuries; Ottoman clay pipes (the site is revealed as an important regional producer in the 17th–19th centuries); and metal objects of various periods. A short chapter outlines the use of ground-penetrating radar to confirm the continuation of the Crusader-period city wall visible in the trenches. Two essays, one on literary sources referring to the site and another on the cultural composition of Paneas through time, conclude the second volume.
These are but the first two volumes, and it is difficult to offer thoughts when the series is incomplete. Not everything is presented here. For example, the chapter on coins in volume 2 discusses all the coin finds from the excavations but lists only those found in the areas described in volume 1; presumably those not listed will be published in due course. A further volume dealing with the “palace” Areas C, D, I, K, and L is announced (1:vii), and a fourth volume on the aqueduct and northern suburbs has already appeared (V. Tzaferis and S. Israeli, Paneas. Vol. 4, The Aqueduct and the Northern Suburbs. Israel Antiquities Authority Reports 40 [Jerusalem 2009]). Given the difficulties in establishing a stratigraphic sequence in several areas, it is to be hoped that the discussion of architectural elements in volume 3 will contribute to a chronology for the major stone-built features of the site. Clearly there is more to come for those interested in the classical phases of this intriguing city.
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL