The Temple Courtyard
This was a place of
worship and sacrifice where ceremonies took place around the great
altar that formed a ritual focus in front of the Temple.
The courtyard was the sacred space surrounding the temple
building and was contained within a colonnaded perimeter
wall. In one corner the Sacred Spring poured out a supply of
hot water that was more than enough to serve the huge baths complex
to the south.
The original courtyard was encroached upon during Roman
times. Small side chapels were built to either side of the
Temple steps. The Spring was enclosed by a building that was
supported by buttresses and an entranceway on the south side of the
courtyard and another building, known as "the four seasons" from
the decoration of its facade, was built on the north side of the
courtyard. The space was cluttered with altars placed
near the Temple by worshippers.
As the Roman Temple declined in the later fourth century so did
the quality of maintenance in the courtyard. Further encroachment
took place and rather half hearted attempts at maintaining a paved
surface were made in the fifth and probably sixth century. The area
was subject to occasional flooding at this time, no doubt as a
result of poorly maintained drainage for the Spring.