Today we planned to work at a site called the Ottoman School. It is named after the fact that a school was established on the site in the 19th century, part of the Ottoman Period. Like many historic places the school is built upon the remains of older buildings. Previous excavations around the school showed indications of Byzantine era (4th to the 7th century AD) walls. These walls are seen in several test pits around the school and extending to the north to what is called the Grand Masters Palace. This is the palace built by the Knights Templar when they took over the region. Traces of the Byzantine walls can be seen in the foundations of the palace as well. As part of the restoration that is going on at the Ottoman School, the Greek government has asked our research team to see if we can determine, using Ground Penetrating Radar, where the Byzantine walls pass under the grounds of the school, the palace grounds outside the walls, and under the palace. This is an enormous undertaking that would take weeks to complete. Our plan is to find a segment of the wall near the school and near the palace to determine if the equipment can indeed find these features, some of which are buried five or more meters below the contemporary surface. If we are successful at finding these sites, future plans will be made to return to complete a thorough assessment of the area. The Greek authorities desire to tell the most complete story possible for this area, and hence they want to include information about the Byzantine period as well. Below is an aerial view of the school (red roof building with a hole in the roof) and the Grand Masters Palace. Also below is the Ottoman School. As evidenced by the scaffolding, it is undergoing reconstruction as a historical monument. The picture on the right is the view of the Grand Masters Palace from the Ottoman School.
Because of the rain we are back at the Kahal Shalom Synagogue completing the GPR survey. To refresh your memory we are completing a survey inside the reconstructed (2004) synagogue, looking for the remnants of an ancient (before 1577) synagogue under the contemporary one. We are collecting the data and it is being sent to a company in California (GPR Slice, Inc.) who are processing the data and providing some interpretation. This is a first for our group, because research team member Dr. Harry Jol (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) usually processes and interprets the data on site, but GPR Slice is so interested in the project they have donated their services. Below what are called time slices based on the GPR data. From these subsurface structure can be interpreted.
These time slices do contain preliminary indications of subsurface structures being present. They will require more processing before we have a clearer idea of what lies beneath the current floor. Additional plots are being processed and interpreted by GPR Slice and we should have some more conclusive data over the next few days.