June 19, 2013 § 1 Comment
About two weeks ago, I was feeling pretty good about the date our our basilica at the site of Polis. We dated the church on the basis of five or six fairly secure deposits associated with the construction or modification of the church. The pottery in these contexts is largely the locally(ish) produced fine ware, Cypriot Red Slip.
The more pottery we have, however, the more problems it creates. And here’s how it goes.
First, we have to identify the major wares present and the make an effort to distinguish the different shapes. That often means spending hours looking at sheets of rim profiles and reading fiddly descriptions of fabric. Because these pots were not made on a production line, any sherd we find does not really line up precisely with the object in our books so we have to wiggle it to fit a category (and, moreover, the potters were not sitting around discussing how to produce Cypriot Red Slip Form 9!). It’s like getting some kind of polyhedron to pass through a round or square hole in a child’s game.
Then, once we are satisfied that we have fit our sherd into the typology, we can begin attempting to date our shapes on the basis of stratified examples of these vessels elsewhere. Most scholars who contribute to the typologies we use to identify the sherds also make an effort to date the pottery. Unfortunately, the bewildering array of shapes and sub-types can devolve into equally bewildering chronological arguments. I had a bit of a “down-melt” this morning when confronted with several possible for a type ranging from 580/600-700 to early 5th to 7th century. That’s a big difference and 580/600 is not a secure date but TWO different dates separated by a slash. In terms of normal humans living in normal time, this is meaningless. I was not born in 1972/1988.
Finally, once we get some dates on some pots, we have to reconcile the chronologies of various vessels within the deposit with one another. This always involves dating the deposit to after the date of the more recent object. Once we have the terminus post quem (that the date after which) for the deposit, we can begin to attempt to understand how earlier material made its way into the collection of pot sherds deposited as a single event. Since most of our deposits are associated with the construction of the basilica, it is easy enough to understand the various earlier sherds as being part of the debris used to backfill a foundation trench or pack a floor. In fact, from a use standpoint the latest and earliest sherd in the deposit functioned essentially the same way. They were all residual and probably all cast aside some time earlier in either a dump or in some kind of local destruction.
The problem is, of course, the more pottery there is, the more complicated the chronological relationships are. For each deposit, we have to sort out both the very local chronology of material, but also the relationship between it and others at our site which may not have the same types (or sub-types) or pottery, but may have a similar date. As a great man once said, mo’ pottery, mo’ problems.
June 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Scott Moore and I have spent a good bit of time processing context pottery from the site of Polis-Chrysochous on Cyprus.
This is how it looks:
Then typed and keyed into a database.
June 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This weekend is the annual CAARI (Cyprus-American Archaeological Research Institute) Workshop. This meeting attracts archaeologists from all over the Republic of Cyprus to present their work often as their field or study seasons are underway. At its best, it is a great way to catch up with both old friends and professional news.
Typically, my project, the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project presents some of their research, but, alas, this year, we were not invited to participate. Rumor has it that we were not invited because we made all the other projects look bad, and this was bad for morale in the archaeological community. Apparently our reports on what we had accomplished on the island in such a short time brought some very important senior archaeologists to tears at the relative insignificance of their own achievements.
Despite the situation being as it is, Scott Moore and I have opted to soldier on. Instead of leaving the archaeological community in awe of our achievements through a direct presentation of our genius, we have decided to contribute a brief report on our work at Polis in their larger work.
We hope that it will be seen as sufficiently modest to get invited back to the CAARI workshop again in the future:
A Brief Report on the PKAP-Polis Team’s 2012 and 2013 Work
Over the course of the 2012 and 2013 season, we have continued to study the stratigraphy, architecture, and finds from the Christian basilica style church in E.F2. To facilitate this work, we have prepared a comprehensive GIS-based site plan of the church, transcribed close to 40 excavation notebooks from the area, and created an relational database integrating digitized notebooks, analyzed context pottery, and registered finds. These tools and the study of over 20,000 artifacts from a fills, collapse, discard areas, and use levels has allowed us to begin the process of dating the major phases of this basilica and locating it in the history of the busy area of EF2.
The most immediate significance of this work is that we can now date the basilica’s construction to the 6th century AD with substantial modification over the next century including the addition of a narthex and south portico and its transformation from a wood-roofed to barrel-vaulted church. The ceramic assemblages associated with the various construction phases contained a wide range of well-attested pottery in the southwestern Cyprus including local fine wares (Cypriot Red Slip) and imports (African Red Slips and Phocaean Wares), Late Roman Amphoras, and various Late Roman kitchen and cooking wares. It is worth noting that this assemblage is rather distinct from assemblages along the south and eastern sides of the island which feature far more imported fine wares and more numerous LR1 amphoras than we have currently recognized at Polis.
While our primary focus has been on the Late Antique and Early Byzantine levels at E.F2, we plan to expand our work to include the systematic study of the Hellenistic, Roman and later Medieval remains in this area. Our intial study of material related to these earlier periods in the area has revealed the existence of a well-defined 1st c. BC/1st c. AD horizon characterized by Cypriot Sigillata and imported Eastern Sigilatta A table wares and a range of cooking vessels in recognizable Roman fabrics. Amphora and utility wares are far less common with the exception of the ocassional example of John Leonard’s infamous “pinch-handled” amphoras.
In 2013, we also conducted a campaign of high resolution laser scanning of the area of EF2 collection over 50 million individual data points with a Leica ScanStation C10. The result of this work not only complemented the more fanciful 3D reconstructions accompanying the City of Gold exhibit, but also provided detailed visual support for the study of notebooks and ceramics. The laser scans will allow the research team to document architectural relationships during the offseason, to produce vertical elevations, and to supplement and revise the existing plans of the site and its buildings.
June 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
While helping our ceramicist, Scott Moore, make his way through thousands of pot sherds excavated from the basilica at EF2 at Polis, I’ve been working on writing up some of the preliminary observations on the architecture of the church. Among the most interesting aspects of the the church, is how the builders managed water at the site. The position of the church perpendicular to the north slope of a hill exposed it to apparently significant flow of water. Moreover, the entire area of E.F2 seems to be riddled with well, drains, and water pipes suggesting that water management was more than just an issue for the builders of the church.
The exposed foundation wall of the south aisle of the basilica. The exposed walls running under the basilica are beneath the rubble drainage layer.
Here is what I penned in the gaps between batches of pottery of the last few days on issues of water and architecture at the basilica at EF2. It’s all provisional and a work in progress, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about the last couple of weeks here at Polis.
From as early as the Hellenistic period there is evidence for concerns about water at the area of E.F2. There are numerous wells in the area associated with the workshops to the south and west of the basilica in the Hellenistic period. The Roman period saw the construction of complex systems of water pipes associated with the paved roads and what appear to be settling basins and drains. White most of these features likely contributed to water supply for various industrial and domestic activities in the city of Polis, it is possible that they also served the important role of water management in the area of EF2. The location of EF2 on the slop of a hill likely exposed the site to the risk of season flooding especially in the event of torrential Mediterranean winter rains.
Several unusual features in the architecture of the the basilica appear designed to protect the foundations of the basilica from the flow of water south to north across the site. On the foundations, below the level of visible walls, a plaster lip protected ran along the roughly mortared foundation of field stones of both the eastern apse and the south side of the basilica. The plaster lip or rim was best preserved along the foundation of the eastern apse where it extended for approximately 15 cm. The purpose of this rim appears to be to prevent water from running down along the foundation through the less densely packed earth associated with the foundation cut. Elsewhere along the line of the foundation excavations revealed sections of foundation wall covered with moist green clay (S06.1991.8). In other places in EF2, similar clay was associated with roof fall, and the water proof character of this clay has led to its continued use to seal roofs even until relatively recent times (e.g. H10.1997.11,4 (vol 1., 55). It seems, then, that the builders of the basilica made an effort to seal the foundations of the church against both water run off from the roof of the building or the surface and the seepage of ground water.
The south side of the basilica saw a more substantial effort to manage the flow of water downslope in the area. The continued presence of a paved road along the upsloap, south side of the church and the probable existence of an open courtyard immediately to the south of the building exposed the southern foundation wall and the piers supporting the south portico to the corrosive effects of water run off. In an effort to counter this risk of water destabilizing the south foundations of the church, the builders designed the courtyard to act as a massive drain. Beneath a level of limey, packed earth which probably represented the ground surface of the courtyard, a loose level rubble which in some places exceeded a meter in depth may have functioned as a massive French drain designed to prevent water from pooling against the south wall of the church and running down running directly down the soft foundation cuts of for the walls. Instead, the porous character of the rubble level served to slow the flow of water south and perhaps even allow it to drain away prior to reaching the vulnerable south wall of the basilica.
The rubble layer is most likely contemporary with the first phase of the basilica and extends almost to the depth of the basilica foundation. Later burials have probably disturbed the integrity of the limey, packed, floor, but there nevertheless appears to be no pottery in the packing that is later than the 7th century with Cypriot Red Slip Form 9 being the latest present (in R09.1986.6,1-2). The massive leveling course of rubble below the floor packing was, in turn, cut by the foundation of the piers of the south portico. In levels associated with the foundations of the the south protico the latest material dates to between 600 and 700 and includes well-document Cypriot Red Slip Form 10. Below the level of the foundations, however, the material is slightly earlier, in general perhaps representing at late 6th to early 7th century date. This rubble level appears to sit immediately atop early Roman deposits dating to the 1st century BC to first AD and even earlier level of Hellenistic date. The diverse assemblage of fine wares, kitchen wares, and transport and utilities wares present in the massive rubble leveling course indicates that it was not only the product of a well-provisions and connected community, but that the rubble course was at least partially associated with discard from other locations in the community.
Roman period water pipe.
June 5, 2013 § 1 Comment
For the third straight year, I’ve sequestered myself for a few weeks in the lovely village of Polis-Chrysochous to commune with the notebooks from the Princeton Polis Expedition. These notebooks detail the excavations at the site of E.F2 on the Princeton grid. This site dates from the Hellenistic to Medieval period and the most conspicuous feature is an Early Christian to Medieval basilica style church. This church and the great group of colleagues working at Polis drew me to the site initially.
Since 2009, I’ve been working on producing a database from the notebooks, assisting Scott Moore and Brandon Olson in analyzing the context pottery, and integrating their work with the notebooks and the existing registry of finds. This means getting three databases to talk to each other. Two of the three – one designed to accommodate our notebooks and one designed to accommodate the new readings of the context pottery – meld together smoothly. The database accommodating the registered finds is a different matter. It was built over 20 years and is not normalized. It can only link to the other databases through a series of concordances. This is tedious stuff to develop and test.
The greatest challenge, however, is to understand the notebooks. Polis was one of the last large-scale Mediterranean excavations not to be excavated stratigraphically. Instead, excavators defined “Levels” which could be stratigraphic or simply spatial and then made “Passes” through these levels which could also be stratigraphic or simply spatial or just arbitrary. What I’ve tried to do is to superimpose a stratigraphic system on top of the existing system of levels and passes in order to understand the depositional processes that formed the archaeological record.
This is both a nightmare and a rush. Whereas some people love archaeology for the thrill of discovery, I have to admit to getting my rush in the problem solving aspects of the discipline. I love reconstructing the spatial relationships through the irregular lens of the Polis notebooks. This is a process of course. Here are the steps:
1. Read the notebooks and transcript the Level and Pass descriptions. Nothing works better than transcribing to study the details of excavation. This practice also allows me to organize the levels and passes which tended to appear almost randomly throughout the notebooks as the trench supervisors often had multiple contexts open at once.
Polis Notebook Page
2. Once we have the notebooks transcribed and analyzed, I build an informal pseudo-Harris Matrix (sometimes I call them a Franco Harris Matrix). I used Tuft University’s VUE program to attempt to illustrate the relationships between various levels.
3. This allows me to identify sensitive contexts that might be able to inform architecture or activity areas. In most cases, we can simple identify a handful of contexts that must be earlier or later than each other. Inevitably numerous contexts are lost to contamination, irregular or obscure excavation decisions, or ambiguous depositional relationships.
4. The ceramics from these contexts are read in the museum by Scott Moore or Brandon Olson, and we draw in the registered finds (typically more distinct or diagnostic objects) from that database to produce a comprehensive dataset of the finds from the level and pass.
5. Finally, at the end of the year, I bring together the read pottery, the stratigraphy, the architecture, and the finds to try to make arguments for the history of the site. We’ve been targeting specific areas of E.F2 each summer and will hopefully have the entire basilica documented by the end of this field seasons. We’re really close.
Scott Moore watching a movie from Netflix
when he should be analyzing pottery.
(Actually, he’s looking up a form in a scanned pottery volume on his iPad.)
The photo is with Camera Noir on my iPhone 5.
May 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Scott Moore and I are off to the museum this morning after a productive weekend. The Larnaka District Archaeological Museum stores the artifact from our excavations near Pyla Village. Our main goal for this field season of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project is to process the artifacts from the 2012 excavation season. In the afternoon, we dedicate our time to preparing for our season at Polis-Chrysochous on the western side of the island which will start in early June.
At Pyla-Koutsopetria, we had to start to process over 700 lbs of pottery as efficiently as possible over our 6, short days of access to the museum storerooms. This material all derives from a single deposit and was carefully excavated as a number of different stratigraphic units. Since we determined at the end of the season that the pottery comes from a single depositional event, we’ve been tempted to combine the various stratigraphic units identified in the field into a single unit for the purpose of processing pottery. (We’d keep the excavated contexts separate during the analysis process, but for the purposes of discussion and analysis all the pottery would appear as a single context.)
All the pottery derives from a 2 x 3 x 2 m storage pit on the inside of the Hellenistic fortification wall on Vigla. As the pit leaned up against the wall, it posts dates it and the content of the storage pit (which appears to have become a trash pit at some point) then provides a terminus ante quem (a point before which) for the wall itself. So, not only are the contents of pit of interest because they appear to directly relate to the cycle of destruction and clean up at the site, but they also help date the fortification. Since the material appears to be from the clean up deposit, it should reflect the range of material at the site and activities.
Next, we have to prepare for our season at Polis-Chrysochous which will start on June 2. This involves processing more of the excavation notebooks and determining which areas require some focused attention. Our goal is to have a publishable preliminary report on the basilica-style church at the site of E.F2 (in the Polis excavation grid) prepared by the end of the summer. Doing data entry and notebook study is not nearly as exciting as analyzing piles of relatively well-preserved pottery fragments, but every bit as necessary. We key the notebooks and sync them with both the inventoried artifacts (generally remarkable finds or nearly complete vessels) and the context pottery (the Cypriots call these “the sherds”, and they are usually broken up bits of pottery from all sorts of depositional contexts).
In fact, I’m going to start to type and analyze two Polis notebook the moment I’m done with this blog. More on this soon.
February 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
As readers of this blog know, I am involved with some great scholars on a long term research project at the site of Polis-Chrysochous on Cyprus. To date our work has primarily focused on the basilica-style church in the area of EF.2. The church was built toward the end of the 5th or beginning of the 6th century and then stood for half a millennium (or there abouts). The church stood in an area that was a center of activity from the Hellenistic period, a busy intersection in Roman times, and continued to support houses, burials, and manufacturing into the Byzantine epoch.
The church is a wild and sexy thing. During its hard life, it saw numerous architectural interventions ranging from what might have been an almost total reconstruction to slight structural and aesthetic tweaks. Traditional architectural history attempts to document the life of a building like this in terms of coherent phases that then collate with larger narratives of architectural development typically on a regional or even trans-Mediterranean scale. Our church is a reluctant partner in this kind of undertaking.
Any effort to push the buttresses, wall-thickenings, reconstructions, re-uses, floors, fills, and other evidence for architectural modification into well-defined phases has so far met with total frustration. This is not to say that the church did not see major episodes of modification, but that final plan of the church came about as much through a series of minor architectural responses as to major cohesive interventions.
The resulting image of our church is less a testimony to the orderly progress of regional styles as the industrious work of a community. And we submitted an abstract to the Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research to this effect:
Re-imagining the Basilica at EF2 at Polis-Chrysochous
Bill Caraher, University of North Dakota
Amy Papalexandrou, Independent Scholar (Austin, Texas)
Over the last four study seasons, a “Medieval Team” consisting of Amy Papalexandrou, Bill Caraher, Scott Moore, Brandon Olson, and Sarah Lepinski have worked to document the basilica style church at the site of EF.2 at Polis-Chrysochous. This building and its immediate vicinity were excavated over a 25 year period beginning in the early 1980s. While excavators successfully articulated the architecture, they made little headway unpacking the complex stratigraphy of this part of the site. To do this, our project has created a relational database that integrates transcribed notebook information, inventoried finds, and context pottery. We complemented this archaeological data with renewed study, documentation, and imaging of the architectural remains to create a substantially revised phase plan for this building. This work makes a significant contribution to history of Early Christian and Medieval architecture on Cyprus by reinforcing the dynamism of Christian architecture and establishing that the transition from wood-roofed to vaulted basilicas can dates to earlier than previously expected. Moreover, these conclusions also provide a useful opportunity to reflect upon the potential to integrate new imaging technology with models for digitizing legacy data and integrating it with new analysis.
October 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
For the last week, I’ve been working on a grant application for study work next year at the site of Polis-Chrysochous on Cyprus. It’s timely not only because the grant application is due on November 1st, but also because an exhibit dedicated to the work at Polis titled City of Gold: Tomb and Temple in Ancient Cyprus will open this weekend at Princeton Art Museum (the exhibit catalogue is available for pre-order at Amazon).
As writing grant proposals tend to do, I began to think through the major possible outcomes of our work. For those of you who don’t follow this blog, I’ve been working with a diverse team of archaeologists at Polis-Chrysochous for the past two summers. We have focused out work on the Late Roman to Medieval phases of the site particularly those in the area of E.F2. Most of this work focused on the basilica there which was built toward the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century and continued to function into the Medieval period. Last summer, we began to get more serious about integrating material from the earlier periods into the system we created to process stratigraphy from the later phases.
So far, we have identified three main research issues that intersect with the analysis of stratigraphy at E.F2.
1. A Neighborhood through Time. The area of E.F2 is defined by the intersection of two roads which is marked in the Roman period by a quadrafons arch. Earlier Hellenistic material seems to respect the orientation of the roads (at least in a general way) and later architecture seems to respect the road and perhaps even echoes the design of the arch. The blocks surrounding this intersection preserve evidence for industrial activity (a kiln), significant hydraulic infrastructure (both to facilitate drainage and to tap subterranean sources of water), habitation, and religious structures (namely, but perhaps not exclusively the Early Christian basilica). The careful analysis of the stratigraphy will allow us to track the transformation of a neighborhood through time and to see the interplay between change and continuity in the urban fabric.
2. Spolia and Reuse. One of the most vibrant and significant conversations in Mediterranean archaeology today centers on the reuse of earlier architectural material in later construction. Recent scholarship has come to emphasize the local context for the reuse of material as an important theater for memory and ritual. In fact, the reuse of material from older buildings on the same site may have served to commemorate the process of transforming the local environment. While studies of spolia have tended to emphasize elaborate and monumental constructions, the neighborhood of E.F2 preserves many other less obvious examples of reuse. The reuse of earlier material in these more modest and less visible ways nevertheless left physical evidence for the process of transforming space.
3. Residuality. Recent work on the persistence of earlier ceramics in much later contexts has challenged the way that we understand ceramic assemblages in an archaeological context. Attention to the presence of earlier ceramics in deposits clearly dated to many hundred years later provides insights both into formation processes and our tendency to understand the use cycle of ceramics as providing important measures for the date of deposits. The range of contexts present at E.F2 provide a veritable residually laboratory. Contexts range from use contexts to a range of small and large scale fills which preserve ceramics dating to hundreds of years.
July 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Last week, I wrote a bit about the area to the south east of the basilica in the area of E.F2 at the site of Polis. This past study season we also turned our attention to the complicated area to the south west of the basilica. Our initial hope was that we could start to understand the diachronic maze of walls, water works, and roads in this area, but after slogging through the notebooks (and more than a little pottery) we conceded any sweeping generalizations and decided to focus on one small area instead.
Just to the south and west of the narthex of the basilica stands a small apsidal well house. This structure appears to sit atop a Late Roman context suggesting that it was more or less contemporary with the basilica. It opens to the east and fronts onto a road that runs north to south more or less parallel with the western wall of the narthex. This road continues through a monumental quadrafons arch (whose footings are just visible at the bottom of the plan below). If one turned to the east through the arch, one would soon pass by the two rooms discussed in the previous post on this topic.
The remains of the apsidal well house do not stand much above the foundation courses leaving little to aide our imagination for how this small, but architecturally interesting structure appeared in to a Late Antique visitor to the site.
At some point, however, the well was filled with rubble and this included glass tesserae as well as significant quantities of roof tiles. The latest pottery appears to be 12th century. The glass mosaic tesserae may hint that the well house had glass mosaic decoration. It is appealing to picture it topped by a half dome with a brilliant multicolored mosaic that flashed in the morning sun.
The infilling of the well at some point during or just later than the 12th century may be consistent with the final destruction of the church, although we know that parts of the church – particularly the narthex – had collapsed earlier. Soon after the well was capped and filled in, the apsidal structure – or whatever part of it survived – became a tomb. A body was placed neatly inside the foundations of the well house just above the now capped well. The east-west orientation ensured that the burial conformed the Christian practices. The re-use of such a delicate and recognizable feature in the local landscape as a tomb suggests that the individual buried there might have been a prominent citizen. It is tempting to even imagine a religious dimension to the burial perhaps making the individual a very local saint or person of sanctity from the immediate community, although this is speculation.
By this time, the immediate vicinity of the well house appears to have been given over to domestic space. The areas to the south of the well house preserved a series of collapsed mud-brick walls and floor surfaces that are Medieval in date and suggest domestic structures. The practice of burial in and around domestic buildings was not unusual in Medieval times and reflects the changing character of the E.F2 “neighborhood”.
Next year, one of our main goals is to unpack the history of the area around this well house and to the south and west of the basilica. Excavations revealed Roman and Hellenistic levels throughout this area allowing us to trace the development of the E.F2 neighborhood from centuries before the construction of the basilica to after its destruction.
July 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Over the past month I’ve once again been spending time at the site of Polis-Chrysochous in Cyprus. My work there over the past two years has focused on documenting the architecture and archaeology of the area called E.F2. The main building in the area of E.F2 is a Christian basilica built in the 6th century and standing at least as late as the 11th. Other features include a kiln, a road, the remains of a complex system of water pipes, wells, and drains, and a other buildings some of which appear to be workshops while others seem to be related to the function of the church. Last summer, a small team of scholars worked to understand the stratigraphy and architecture of the church at E.F2.
This summer, we began to turn our attention to some of the other buildings in the area of the church. Our primary goals were to describe the stratigraphy and the architecture of the area to the southeast of the main basilica. In particular, we were interested in understanding the history and function of two rooms situated some 7 or 8 m from the southern wall of the basilica.
These rooms opened onto a road that ran parallel to the south wall of the basilica and probably framed the southern edge of a small open courtyard located just to the south of a porch on the south side of the basilica.
The standing outer walls of these two rooms sits atop earlier walls dating, it would seem to the 1st c. BC – 1st c. A.D. This earlier building originally had a single large opening facing the street, but sometime during those two centuries, the middle wall was build closing the single large door and dividing the one large room into two smaller rooms.
These earlier walls supported later walls that date to no later than the middle of the 5th century. We were able to say this because of a small deposit of fine ware discovered under a bench on the east side of the central wall had a nice assemblage of early 5th c. fine ware. Since this bench rests against the latest phase of the central wall, the latest artifacts in the deposit under the bench provides a terminus ante quem for the wall. In other words, the wall against which the bench rests has to date to before the latest sherd in the deposit under the bench. To make matters more convenient, we were also able to determine that the latest phase of the central wall predates the latest phases of the wall to its north.
At some point in the 6th or perhaps early 7th century the rooms appear to have suffered some significant destruction, and this resulted in the rebuilding of the north wall of the two rooms. A deposit post-dating the reconstructed north wall contains no material later than the early decades of of the 7th century. Thus we can say that the central wall of the building dates to between 450 and, say, 750, when the north wall was rebuilt and the material resting again it was deposited.
Finally, at some point after the deposit against the north wall, the entire structure collapsed and was replaced by a building of uncertain size that was built atop a layer of rubble effectively sealing the ruins of the earlier two-roomed structure.
The west wall of this building is labeled as Wall 4 in the picture above. This wall sat atop deposits of pottery that appear to date no earlier than the 7th century. It also rests against the eastern wall of the south portico (an addition to the south side of the basilica that dates to the sometime in the late 6th or early 7th century). So it would seem that this later building was constructed after the 7th century. A level of rubble overlying the walls has Medieval (12th?) material in it, so we know that by the Medieval period wall had gone out of use.
While it is speculation, it seems plausible to image that Wall 4 was built at the same time that the south portico underwent some significant modifications. At some point after its 7th century construction date, the arches of the south portico were walled up perhaps to create an enclosed space for burials (although this is uncertain since burials began before the portico was modified). A similar process took place in the narthex which we assume to be nearly contemporary with the south portico.
So stratigraphy and architecture allows us to reconstruct the history of these small rooms and follow the use of this space from the 1st c. BC/AD to the end of antiquity.