The Naumachia

 

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The Naumachia

 The great rectangular depression, inside the city walls in the northwest quarter of the town, which often has water in its bottom and has been called a Naumachia by more than one traveller, is not properly a monument of architecture. As in the case of the Hippodrome I have no plan of it except that shown by Mr. Norris in his survey (see plan of Bostra), and its only claim to notice in this part of Division II lies in the presence of a few blocks of stone on the northern slope, which lie more or less in rows, and might have been seats arranged in tiers like the seats of a theatre. There is a somewhat similar depression at Djerash {Gerasa) which has been given the name of Naumachia, on grounds perhaps as slender as these. The depression as it is now is over 200 m., probably a stadium, in length, about 9 m., wide and 6 m. deep.Its west end was certainly square. If the east end was once rounded, the original form is now lost. It was quite certainly artificially excavated and may have provided a quarry at the beginning. The sides are sloping, and, as noted above, there are blocks, like unmoulded theatre seats, lying loosely upon the northern slope. The springs in its bottom flow even now in very dry weather. The situation, the dimensions, the water supply, all offer excellent opportunities for the water sports and aquatic pageants of "far-famed Bostra", as the city is called in one of the inscriptions. The water, if properly conserved, would have provided also one more source of supply against a drought or a prolonged siege.

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