Septimius Severus Nymphaeum

    This monumental nymphaeum extends the full width of an insula on the north side of the Syria Street. Excavated in 2003 the rectangular nymphaeum measures 41.60x14.30 m. The monument rises on a podium of three steps from the street level and its main body walls were built with travertine blocks. The rectangular pool was surrounded with two-tiered colonnaded marble construction on three sides and parapets with pilasters on the south with profiled cornices and bases. In addition there was a lion statue at east and west corners by the street. It was a grandiose monument with brown and grey veined marble columns and polychrome veneer. Its façade is articulated with niches and arched aediculae. The colonnades of Composite order on the lower tier and of Corinthian order on the upper tier have six columns on the short sides and sixteen columns along the back wall. The main niche in the middle of the north back wall had the statue of Athena in a niche.

     The floor of the pool was paved with square and rectangular bricks. Traces of marble veneer attested on the north wall indicate that the pool was originally faced with marble. The pool is one meter deep and eight drainage channels at 0.75 m level kept the water at a certain level. Drainage channels conveyed the excess water to three other structures. The main drainage channel in the floor is at the southeast corner. There were three fountains supplying water into the pool – the main one in the middle flanked with two others. Three circular basins were placed in front of the pool corresponding to the three fountains.

     The inscription on the architrave-frieze block fragment of the lower tier states that the monumental fountain was dedicated to Emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193-211) and possibly to Athena, goddess of weaving. The monument underwent repairs at various times and collapsed with the earthquake in AD 494. On one column of the lower tier a composition of menorah, shofar, and lulav crowned with a cross with globus was incised; and this shows that the monument was still standing in the fourth century. The fountain was supplied from the Water Distribution Terminal II.



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