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Area 9 monastery church and chapel looking east toward the Khabur
River. The semi-circular apse belonging the haikal (Syriac, temple
room) is visible in the foreground. Five superimposed floor surfaces
were detected inside the monastery church. The original floor surface
(shown in this image) was composed of a thick plaster layer poured
with great care. Coins associated the first phase of the monastery
church correlates its construction with the prosperity and security
during the reign of Harun al-Rashid (AH 170-193/786-809). The second
phase floor was inferior in construction and dates from the end
of the Abbasid Caliphate or beginning of the Seljuq Period. The
third phase floor dates from the late 11th century. The fourth phase
floor in the monastery church can be dated by an Ayyubid coin of
al Adil (minted in al-Ruha in the year AH 604/AD 1207. The fifth
and final phase, when the monastery was in decline, dates to the
period of the Mongol invasions (14th and early 15th century). Agricultural
fields on the far bank of the Khabur were used to cultivate wheat
(light tan vegetation) and cotton (dark green vegetation) during
the summer of 1998.
The monastery consists of a sanctuary measuring 10.5 x 8.4 meters,
haikal (Syriac, temple/holy room)
measuring 6.2 x 4.0 meters, baptistery measuring 4.4
x 2.6 meters (W. Syriac Beth Ma'mudita; E. Syriac, Beth
el Mather, literally House of giving the name), refectory measuring
9.9 x 4.4 meters (W. Syriac Beth Hsamita; E. Syriac, Beth
Shametha), and a mortuary chapel measuring 5.9 x 7.3 meters
(Syriac, Beth Kadeshy). The refectory is large enough to
have accommodated approximately 30 monks; directly attached to the
refectory is the kitchen and wine press.
The chapel attached to the southwest corner of the church contained
two grave pits and measures 7.31 meters (E-W) by 5.93 meters (N-S).
The empty grave pits would indicate that the southwest chapel was
a Beth Kadeshy which is Syriac meaning the House of the Saints).
A second chapel on the southeast corner of the monastery church
served as the Beth ma mudita, Syriac for baptistery). The
baptstry originally had a door to the nave, but this closed off
during the Abbasid Period so that the chapel could only be accessed
only through the hiakal. The chapel in the measures 4.25 meters
(E-W) by 2.52 meters (N-S).
The baptismal font (W. Syriac Gurna d'Ma'mudita) measures
96 x 85 cm. and was placed against the east wall of the baptistery.
The basin for holding water measures 46 cm. in diameter with a depth
of 14 cm. These dimensions clearly reflect the practice of infant
Beth Hsamita is the Syriac word for dining hall. The size of the
dining hall would have comfortably accomodated 30 men.
The wine press (Arabic, masarah hammer)
consists of a crushing basin linked by a conduit to a fermentation
vat equipped with a sediment trap. The fermentation vat would have
held approximately 650 gallons of wine (in modern terms, that translates
into 3250 bottles of red wine). Today, wine grapes are tended in several
Christian villages upstream of Tuneinir. Most of the local red wine
is used for domestic purposes, but some is donated to the churches
for use in communion. It is significant to note that the cracks/fissures
in the floor of the crushing basin were sealed with tar. The cracks
may have resulted from earthquake or the natural result of decades/centuries
of use. Whatever the cause, the cracks were sealed and the basin was
kept in production.
Wine press in Area 9.
Michael Fuller discusses the wine press in Area 9 with the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop and two priests while village workmen listen.
Location of the grave, probably of an Abbot, was located at the entrance of
the monastery and close to the foundations of a Roman watchtower that was
dismantled by the monks.
Upper rim of the grave as discovered during shovel skimming.
Fully excavated grave after removal of 55 cm of soil fill.
Interior of the monastery church nave that was divided equally between the east
half (near the 3 steps into the haikal for the men) and the west half
(near the entrance of the nave and reserved for the women).
Kite photograph with labels for the interior rooms of the monastery church.
Michael and Neathery Fuller mapping the interior of the haikal.
Plan of the haikal and umra during the 1997 field season.
Umra, small room with baptismal basin.
View of the Area 9 church facing South.
Apse, altar and refectory looking Northwest.
View of the Area 9 church complex looking Southeast.
Architectural features inside the haikal, facing east.
Decorated panel along the niche along the south side of the haikal.
View of the Area 9 monastery church during excavation during 1998 before the
floor of the haikal was intentionally removed by the archaeologists. The
photograph is looking west down the axis of the church with the Khabur River in
the background. The altar is clearly visible in the apsed haikal room in
the foreground. A raised platform in the northwest corner of the nave is clearly
visible - we interpret this feature as a place of special devotion.
View of the Area 9 monastery during the 2001 excavation season as the impounded waters
of the Khabur River Reservoir begin to rise. The monastery ruins will be completed
covered by the lake if the reservoir is ever completely filled.
Magnetic Survey and Ground Penetrating radar were successfully used in Area 9.
Evidence of a path between Areas 9 and 10 was detected by Gradiometric/Magnetic survey.
Plan of the topmost layer of architecture in Area 9 recorded during 1997.
Plan of the middle layer of architecture in Area 9 recorded during 1998.
Plan of the deepest layer of architecture in Area 9 recorded during 1999.
Excavation units and longitude/latitude from Area 9 calculated by a
handheld GPS device.
Webpage created 24 June 2005.
Webpage migrated 1 April 2008
Webpage updated 23 December 2010