Big D

Picture courtesy RaBoe/Wikipediacreative commons

Big D, so called because of the large D-shaped bath set into the end wall, is in a room which occupies a space about 20 feet (6 metres) square.

The bath itself has hypercaust floor. Paget suspected it may originally have formed the apse of a chapel-like room, or perhaps the location of a large statue.

Picture courtesy Carole Raddato
Picture courtesy RaBoe/Wikipediacreative commons

The niche and hidden staircase

To the left of the Big D bath there is a niche. In the lower part of the wall between the bath and niche we can see two vertical plaster lines embedded in the stonework. This indicates that once there was a plastered wall that extended forward from here, as indicated by my ghosted black vertical panel.

There was probably a vaulted corridor leading to the staircase, completely separate from Big D. The niche was a later addition once the wall had been removed.

In the front left hand corner of Big D itself there is a rough opening, probably made by treasure hunters. Paget and Jones went in through here and found themselves at the bottom of a hidden staircase with steep steps.

The staircase is 2 feet wide and 6 feet high. At the top there are traces of another passage off to the right. The stairs are blocked at the top. The exact nature of this staircase and where it leads should be investigated by those responsible for the site.

So what is behind there?

The curious tanks

On the terrace level above, easily accessed by the side stairs to the left of the Greek Temple, there is an opening in the wall above Big D.

20 feet (6 metres) into the cliff there is a platform 7 feet (2.1 metres) above the floor of a tank-like room.

Tank 1

The floor of this tank is a rectangle measuring 16 feet (4.9 metres) by 9 feet (2.7 metres) and 15 feet high (4.6 metres) to the vaulted ceiling. The tank has its long axis aligned on 337º. The floor level is 13 feet (4 metres) above the datum level of the lower buildings, which Paget took as the bottom step of the staircase next to the temple. There appears from Paget’s description to be some irregularity in the shape of this tank, it isn’t quite rectangular. There are stairs leading down to the floor of the tank from the platform.

Tank 2

To the north of this is another tank. Paget and Jones went through a hole in a 3 foot thick (0.9 metre) wall that was present at platform level in the first tank. This tank is more regular.

This tank is truly rectangular, 19 feet (5.8 metres) by 13 feet (4 metres) and again 15 feet (4.6 metres) to the roof of the vault. Paget describes it as showing signs of conversion from a larger space of some kind. It is on a bearing of 330º, the same as the alignment of the five buildings under discussion. Its northernmost wall sits exactly in line with the northernmost wall of the last building in the row, the Painted Room.

There are no stairs to the floor in this room/tank.

At the platform level, through the rough hole, they could see in the east wall, ie the wall facing out to the cliff edge, what they thought were blocked light shafts and access to a passage. Perhaps this comes out to an unknown opening on the cliff, or perhaps it joins up with the staircase behind Big D. Until investigation is done – probably not in our lifetimes unless this website stimulates some activity – the exact nature of access to the north tank is a mystery.

There is a small connecting opening between the two tanks, presumably for liquids, at floor level. It is 1 foot high and 9 inches wide.

The curved passage

The treaure-hunter who made the hole between the tanks came into the first tank at floor level from the south east corner. Paget and Jones went in through this hole to find themselves in a 3 foot wide (0.9 metre) curved passage. The passage curves because it has to negotiate around the back of the Tholos, to a point where it should meet up with a blockage at the back of the Grotto leading from the Greek Temple. This also means it curves directly above the main oracle tunnel.

The rubble made by the treasure hunter lies in the corridor, indicating he came in that way. There has been a fall in this passage through a vertical shaft from above which would have been in a building on the higher terrace, so again this needs clearing and investigating if we are to get any better understanding of it.

Paget also describes a possible doorway in the curved passage that might be a back way into the Greek Temple.

Picture courtesy RaBoe/Wikipediacreative commons

Is there more to be found at Big D?

At the front of the Big D room we can see a hole in the ground, appearing to go under the room. This was not described by Paget, although it must have been visible to him. It may be significant, it may not. The curved wall next to the hole is part of the wall of a small bath off the court in front of the Painted Room.


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