Enclosure 4

This enclosure is the last of a series of additions on the north of Enclosure 1. Before Enclosure 4 was constructed, the monumental West Tombs occupied this space. The West Church Complex was added in the mid-4th century; its western and northern walls form part of the walls of Enclosure 4. Within the enclosure and against the exterior of the east wall of the church, two single-interment graves were discovered. They are east-west orientated and had mud-brick superstructures (Graves 1 and 2).

A further seven graves were found within the enclosure and all are orientated east-west and were sealed with mud bricks. Ceramic evidence and the location of the burials in relation to the pre-existing structures suggest that most of the burials date to the second half of the 4th century. A two-roomed structure was detected in the central space of the enclosure, east of the West Tombs, in which ceramics and numismatic evidence of the 4th century were also found.

The actual function of the structure is unknown. During the removal of wall collapse along the north wall of the enclosure, two deposits of glass vessels were found. These were in a fragmentary state, but comprise 7 vessels in total and amongst this group was the unique jug with painted scenes of combatant gladiators. All of the vessels may be dated to the 4th century.


Read more about the Gladiator Jug in this related article:

Reproduced from G. E. Bowen and C. A. Hope, eds, The Oasis Papers 3, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2003 – courtesy of the editors.

An extensive list of publications relating to Ismant el-Kharab is available for consultation.

View of the fragmentary state of the Gladiator Jug as found during excavations.
Three of the glass vessels (reconstituted) from Enclosure 4, including the Gladiator Jug (right).
View of the adult skeletal remains found in Grave 9, with the head placed at the west.
View of Graves 1 and 2 with their mud-brick superstructures, situated against the exterior east wall of the West Church and beside the north wall of Enclosure 4, looking west.