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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: The Site

Colonnade

Petrie located and partly cleared a long double colonnade. The columns are single blocks of limestone and once had crude Corinthian capitals. They measure something under a metre in diameter, and the tallest still measured nearly six metres high. The overall length of the colonnade was around eighty metres.

The function of this colonnade remains uncertain. Petrie thought in terms of a colonnaded street, a poor relation of the grand avenue at Palmyra. Against this are the low base running across the colonnade, seen on Petrie’s plan, and the attached half-column at the western end, seen in the photograph; such half-columns are expected on the ‘show’ façade of a structure, not tucked away at the back. In association with the building-repairs accounts no.4441 in vol.LXIV of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, we wonder whether the colonnade might represent the Northern Stoa, that is one of four covered colonnades that enclosed a large square like a cloister, but that interpretation too has its difficulties.

F.Petrie, Tombs of the Courtiers and Oxyrhynkhos (1925), pl.XXXV