The mosaic pavement substrates in the southern rooms of the eastern church at Khirbet et-Tireh, Ramallah (Palestine)

Al-Houdalieh, Salah Hussein
Bearat, Hamdallah
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Universidad de Salamanca
The Eastern Church complex at Khirbet et-Tireh comprises five distinct sections: an atrium, a narthex, a tripartite main hall –nave and two aisles–, three adjoining auxiliary rooms on the north, and finally four more auxiliary rooms along the south side. The floor of the church was originally completely tessellated with polychrome mosaics, forming pavements patterned with figurative and geometric designs on a white background. Structurally, all known floor mosaics of the classical Mediterranean world had two main components: a substrate –all the hidden, preparatory layers– and the tessellatum –the tesserae and the filling mortar between them–. The most common substrate configuration consists of –from bottom to top– the statumen, rudus, nucleus, and bedding layers. In practice, however, the characteristics of these preparatory layers (substrate) –their number, order, thickness, technique, and material composition– have been found to differ from one period to another, from site to site, from building to building within a site, and even from one room to another within the same structure. In this context, the substrate of the mosaic pavements of the southern rooms of Khirbet et-Tireh church was found to be constructed of five layers, including a thin soil layer existing between the bedding and nucleus layers. To our knowledge, this layer has only been documented in Khirbet et-Tireh among the known archaeological sites paved with mosaics.
preparatory layers , conservation and restoration , mosaics , Byzantine-Umayyad churches , archaeometry