The Macellum


About the Site

Macellum is the Latin word for a food market, which would typically be found in a prominent location within Roman cities. In Jarash the Macellum, set atthe side of the Cardo, occupied a complete insulae (quarter) of the area between the Oval Plaza and the South Tetrapylon (intersection of two streets). It was built at the end of the 2nd century AD with blocks re-used from other monuments.

This macellum has a unique octogonal shape, and is based around a paved courtyard with a Greek cross-shaped fountain at its center. The courtyard is bordered by porticoes of Corinthian columns that opened onto exedras, or large niches, alternating between rectangle and semi-circular shaped. The merchant stalls would have been set up inside these exedras. One of them seems to have housed a butcher’s, as a thick stone slab with countless knife marks and grooves was found here, and the bases for this table have carved sheep, pig, veal and lion heads.

Along with other parts of the city, the market was apparently burned at the end of the 3rd century AD by raiding robbers. It was later rebuilt and remolded over many stages, and in the Umayyad period it was converted into a workshop for dyeing cloth. The ruins were probably also reoccupied in the Abbasid period.



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