Biblical Archaeology Review 38:2, March/April 2012

Strata: What Is It?

A. Egyptian neck pillows

B. Neolithic chariot wheels

C. Petrified paper towel rolls

D. Hellenistic floor rollers

E. Canaanite necklace beads

Answer: (D) Hellenistic floor rollers

These Hellenistic-period rollers for packing and leveling plaster floors were found at Mt. Gerizim, the holy mountain of the Samaritans, which was excavated by Dr. Yitzhak Magen. As Magen explains in a recent publication, “Corbelling is a construction technique unknown in the Land of Israel prior to the Hellenistic period, and very unusual even in later periods. Wooden or stone beams were laid upon flat stone corbels projecting from the two lengthwise walls, creating second-story floors and ceilings. The beams were covered in plaster, then leveled and packed by a roller, dozens of which were found at Mt. Gerizim. Corbelling precluded the need to insert beams into the walls, which would have greatly encumbered and weakened the structure.”1

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