The Texas Foundation for Archaeological & Historical Research
The TFAHR Bylazora Project
|Click on photo to enlarge.
The TFAHR Bylazora Project
|THE ACROPOLIS OF BYLAZORA, page 2
By Eulah Matthews and William Neidinger
Phase 2: Ramp-propylon, Second Tower.
The propylon complex consists of a number of connected elements. The
most prominent feature is the approximately 13 x 4 m. stone ramp (M12.7),
ascending the slope of the acropolis from northeast to southwest. As it enters
through the acropolis wall it is flanked on the west by the Second Tower
(N11.16), whose building occasioned the demolition of the First Tower
(M11.2). Presumably there was another flanking tower to the east of the
ramp, but all but a few of its stones have been looted away. In the foundation
of the Second Tower we found a re-used fragment of a triglyph and an ashlar
block with a hoisting boss still extant; both stones were from earlier buildings
that had been dismantled.
|Excavating the ramp (left). First Tower (A) and Second Tower (B) (center).
Re-used triglyph in the foundation of the Second Tower (right).
|Click on photo to enlarge.
The remnants of a small altar (O12.5) were discovered alongside where the eastern tower would have
been. The simple altar consisted of nothing more than a few upright, thin stone slabs forming a rectangle,
and filled with dirt; perhaps capped by another thin stone slab. Its exact shape is impossible to determine,
because it was flatted by the construction of a later wall. Such an altar at an entrance gate is, of course,
a regular feature of ancient city life and would explain the enormous amount of ash and animal bones
found at the foot of the ramp and tower.
A conical socket stone suggests that a gate closed the entrance to the ramp. The quantity of roof tiles
found on the stones of the ramp (but not off to either side) may be an indication that the ramp was roofed.
|Remains of a small altar.
|Socket stone for gate at entrance
This covered ramp led to the next element of the propylon,
the threshold. The threshold stones are higher than the
ramp stones and have two interesting features. The first is
a square socket hole, probably for bolting a double-door
gate. The second is the noticeable signs of wear,
indicating wheeled traffic.
The threshold gave entrance to the next element of the
propylon complex: a narrow, rectangular room framed on
the west by wall L12.10 and on the south by wall L14.10.
Presumably an identical set of walls (now quarried away)
framed the rectangular room on the east. Within this room
the paving stones stop their inclined ascent and are laid
flat for the next seven meters, at which point they are not
as wide as the ascending ramp, but that may be a matter of
later quarrying operations.
|In the balk are the remains of roof
tiles which covered the ramp.
|The threshold. Previously worked
stones in the foundation (A); stone
with socket (B); stones showing signs
of vehicular wear (C).
Wall L12.10 runs uphill and parallel to the ramp along the ramp’s entire western length. There was
undoubtedly a similar wall parallel to the ramp on the east, but like the eastern flanking tower, most of its
stones were later quarried away, although its existence was noted by a robber trench in one of the balks
in trench M14.
This large propylon complex was certainly not only a major construction project for ancient Bylazora, but it
also must have been occasioned by the construction of an even more significant edifice with which it is
aligned. The building of the propylon, remember, entailed the demolition of part of the acropolis wall and
the First Tower. The ramp of the propylon, moreover, enters the acropolis precinct at an odd angle,
roughly 30˚ to the earlier acropolis wall M11.2. What would have occasioned such an oblique approach
other than a wish to align the propylon with an already existing and more important structure, and perhaps
one that was being rebuilt at the same time as the propylon?
At the end of the flat stretch of pavement with the
rectangular room of the propylon, the large paving stones
end and give way to a long, pebble-paved road (L14.8),
which resumes the ascent up to the summit of the acropolis
but at a gentler incline. The end of this pebble-paved road
has not yet been reached. At the base of the ramp (in
trench O11) is a similar pebble-paved road, one that was
covered with the ash and animal bones from the small altar.
|Pebble-paved road south of ramp.
|A glass bead stamped into the
Fronting the propylon complex and higher up the hill are two buildings defined by walls N13.10 + N13.11
and N14.2 + N14.3, with a small paved alley separating them. The full extent of neither building has been
revealed, but they do seem to be aligned, facing the propylon. Moreover, wall N13.10 served as a
terrace wall; the southern building and alley being .50-.70 m. higher than the lower northern building. So,
although the propylon ascended the acropolis at an incline, the buildings to the east of it were terraced in
levels. Wall N14.2 of the upper, southern building shows signs of repeated re-buildings.
Alley way between the buildings of
the upper terrace.
We might cautiously add to Phase 2 a continuation of the
acropolis defensive wall (M11.2), which was unearthed in 2008
in squares I12, I13, J12, and J13. This extension of the wall
has all the hallmarks of being a later addition or, perhaps, a
hasty re-building of the wall. First, it veers southwest from the
direction of the earlier section of wall by about 10˚. Second,
the stones here are significantly smaller than those of the
earlier section. Third, whereas the courses of the earlier part
of the wall were sunk into the ground, here a thick layer of
sand and clay was laid down to level the area, then the stones
of the wall laid directly into the sand leveling course. With such
a shaky foundation, substantial buttress walls (I13.8 and J13.7)
were constructed to support the poorly built wall. The space
between these walls may have served as storerooms. How can
we date these buttress walls and the extension to the acropolis
wall which they support? Their dating at present is tenuous.
The buttress walls (I13.8 and J13.7)were completely covered
by the remains of the Phase 6, Second Squatter Period
buildings. It was not until we removed the Phase 6 remains
that the walls were uncovered. So, if they pre-date Phase 6,
then they must logically belong somewhere between Phase 1
and Phase 5. Phase 5 is eliminated since it is a period of
abandonment at the site. Phase 4 is a squatter period in which
it is highly unlikely (though not utterly impossible) that
squatters built the walls; most of their other structures were
very flimsy. Phase 3 is a destruction period. That leaves
Phase 2 as the most likely candidate, since a re-building of the
acropolis wall would clearly postdate the acropolis wall of
A particular type of pottery associated with these walls may
help us date this re-building. Fragments of Rheneia cups were
found in a layer of soil above the sand leveling course of the
acropolis wall. Rheneia cups are generally dated to the mid to
late fifth century BC. So, we cautiously use the late fifth
century as the earliest possible date for the re-building of the
acropolis and buttress walls; attributing that date to the other
buildings of Phase 2 is problematic. We will not be able to so
confidently until after further excavation.
|Digging through Phase 6 remains to
uncover buttress walls.
The continuation of the acropolis
A Wall M11.2
B Stones missing where M11.2
veers off at a different angle
C Leveling course of sand and
D Wall K11.7 of an earlier stratum
Phase 3: Destruction.
Some time (perhaps well) after ca. 400 BC the propylon complex of the acropolis of Bylazora was destroyed. Whether this destruction was
part of a wider catastrophe or was merely confined to this section of the acropolis is uncertain at present. It is tempting to associate it with
Philip II’s conquest of Paionia in 359 BC, but there is no evidence yet uncovered to securely link the archaeological evidence with that event.
A terminus ante quem is, however, provided by Phase 4.