Since the 1930s, aerial photographs highlighted a long straight path that may have been a main road flanked by open spaces, along the city’s presumed southern limit. In the late 1960s, the Italian Mission carried out an extensive geophysical survey that proved that the city area, surrounded and crossed by canals that were subsequently buried, was larger, and several diagnostic soundings were opened, the most important of which was located in the large open area on the north side of the path.
The excavation ascertained that the open space dated only to the most recent Parthian period (1st-2nd centuries A.D.), while in the most ancient period (level IV) the area was entirely occupied by buildings, probably dwellings, aligned, implementing an original urbanistic solution, on a terraced base with a baked brick front, connected with stairs to a road built below ground level on a previously existing waterway or sand-filled canal. The buildings, separated by parallel lesser roads, possessed baked brick façades with pillars, perpetuating millenary Mesopotamian customs, but the types of dwellings also included distinctly Hellenistic models, such as a large house with a courtyard and inner portico with columns between half-pillars and decorations – smooth or decorated cornices, curved plate coverings for the columns and gargoyles decorated with lion heads – made from terracotta.
In Parthian times (levels III-II), the block’s structure was transformed: the road was raised to the buildings’ floor level and the baked brick south front disappeared, while smaller rooms, used as shops and alternating with the dwellings, appeared. The square was built only in the 1st century A.D. by demolishing the buildings in the central part and, simultaneously, numerous graves of the types that were common in Parthian times appeared, confirming the area’s considerable change of use.
In the last phase (level I), corresponding to the final Parthian period, the buildings were renovated once again: the decorations were now made from stucco, painted with lively colours and techniques and motifs derived from the oldest eastern iconography, attesting to a deep penetration of Parthian culture in the city.