Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA
Archaeology's Interactive Dig
July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of the Hadrianic nymphaeum seen from the southeast
Upper part of the left podium relief representing a woman (head broken off) holding an inverted water vessel
Removal of the lower part of the colossal Apollo Klarios statue. The lion's feet of the throne are visible on the left.
Two joining fragments of Apollo's upper torso with the conical hole for inserting the separate head. To the left a fragment of the central part of the torso.
Statue base for the gilded bronze statue of the emperor Hadrian.
Left statue base for the bronze statue of Claudius Peison
Upper part of the statue base for Flavius Diophantes

The pedestal for the late Roman governor of Pamphylia

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Hadrianic Nymphaeum: July 18-22, 2004

The Lower Agora team directed by Bernard Vandaele, Ertug Ergürer, and Marjolein Verschuur (see July 4-8), together with architect Gülnür Caliskan, continued the further exposure of the monumental nymphaeum, which we had dated to the late Hadrianic period based on its architectural decoration. As in the 2003 campaign, the results were astonishing.

The decorated podium of the building
In 2003, we fully exposed three reliefs decorating the slightly projecting pilasters of the podium inside the drawing basin. They represented Klio, the Muse of history, Terpsichore, the Muse of dance, and a woman holding an inverted water vessel supported by a pedestal (see Field Notes 2003, Lower Agora, Nymphaeum, August 10-16). We assumed that there should be in total eight other similar reliefs: seven representing the remaining Muses and one in the left corner forming a counterpart for the women with the inverted vessel. Yet, archaeology is always like a good detective story--you find an unexpected event upon turning a new page. In fact, it became clear that there were only three other pilasters. The left one, which is still not fully exposed, does show a women with an inverted water vessel, but there are only two other Muses: the left one representing most probably Melpomene, the Muse of drama holding a dramatic mask (rather than Thaleia, the Muse of comedy), the right one representing once more Klio holding a book.

[image] [image]
Melpomene (left) with her dramatic mask, and Klio (right) holding a book

Sculpture finds from the lower floor
This week we discovered several fragments of large sculptures that once decorated the beautiful Hadrianic nymphaeum. Last year we found a colossal female head, most probably from a female representation (perhaps a personification of the city of Saglassos), in front of the right rectangular niche. As we have not yet touched most of the basin this year, no other parts of this colossal statue have come to light.

The most impressive find of the week was that of several large and smaller body parts belonging to another colossal, seated marble statue. Because of their size, we have not yet been possible to match all recovered fragments, but the total height of the statue must be 4 m to 4.50 m. It represents a male god, naked to the waist, the lower part of the body covered by a cloak draped around the neck and hanging down from both shoulders. He is sitting on a throne with lion's feet and only one sandaled foot is visible. The left arm carried a lyre, of which only the lower part is preserved. The matching upper parts of the body have at the level of the neck a rough cone carved out, becoming smaller below, in which the colossal head was set.

Although the head is still missing, there is little doubt about the god's identity: most probably he represents Apollo Klarios, as the latter is depicted in the same attitude and attire on the city's coins. Starting with the reign of Augustus, he seems to have become the major divinity of Sagalassos. His temple, became the city's first shrine for the Imperial cult, in which the Klarian games seem to have played a prominent role. The connection between the god and the Imperial cult is made even more obvious through the location of a large gilded statue of Hadrian, which stood in the niche above Apollo. This means that there must have been a third colossal marble statue (not yet discovered) filling the left rectangular niche.

In the same vicinity, we found three fragments of an over life-sized female statue (more than 2 m). Only the head is missing, but that makes establishing the figure's identity impossible. She could have filled one of the curved niches of the lower story. Apart from the clearly identifiable sculpture pieces, many other small fragments were collected as well, filling more than ten boxes in total. Some of these pieces may even belong to the statues discovered during 2003 (see Field Notes 2003, Lower Agora, Nymphaeum, August 17-23).


The female statue

The statue bases from the upper story
During the past week, we discovered a number of inscribed statue bases inside the collapsed part of the building. Most have the same height and identical moldings. There seems to be a clear "hierarchy" in their dimensions. The tallest one almost certainly comes from the central niche in the upper story. Then, moving outward, the size of the bases and the statues they originally supported becomes smaller. Attachment holes for all of these statues leave no doubt that they were made of bronze. It is likely they were melted down in late antiquity, but a few gilded bronze drapery fragments we found last season and during this week most probably belonged to the statue in the central niche. The inscription on its base is a dedication "to the Imperator Caesar, son of the divine Traianus Parthicus and grandson of the divine Nerva, Traianus Hadrianus, the Olympian, Augustus, father of the fatherland, savior of the world, set up according [to the] the will." The emperor to whom the statue and apparently the whole nymphaeum were devoted is Hadrian (A.D. 117-138). His imperial titles clearly confirm our previous date of the building after 128, and even could fine-tune it perhaps to the years between 128/9 and 132.

The bases on either side of Hadrian's statue carried the same inscription. In fact, an almost identical statue base was already discovered last year (see Field Notes 2003, Lower Agora, Nymphaeum, August 10-16). Both inscriptions read "His heirs have set up according to his will, the statue of [Tab.] Claudius Peison." This man, together with his brother Tib. Claudius Varus, dedicated a statue for the emperor Vespasian (A.D. 69-79) in the Upper Agora, following their father's will. In the Julio-Claudian period, this family, which received Roman citizenship under Claudius or Nero, was without any doubt the city's most prominent family. Peison himself was the first one of the family to become a Roman knight (eques) and he also became the first agonothetès (leader) for life of the Klarian games, which were connected with the Imperial cult since Vespasian's time. His cousin Claudia Severa married a new Roman citizen Ti. Flavius Neon. Their sons rose to Roman knighthood, and during the reign of Hadrian their grandson Ti. Flavius Severianus Neon became Sagalassos' richest and most influential citizen according to a dozen statue bases dedicated to him throughout the city and the library which he built. These two inscriptions leave no doubt that the Hadrianic nymphaeum was built by the heirs of Ti. Claudius Peison according to his will. This also means that he must have reached a very respectable age, as his lifetime spans the reigns of Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian, i.e. a period of at least 60 years (A.D. 59-117).

The outermost of the series of statue bases was smaller than the others, but also higher, probably meaning that it carried a bronze statue of smaller dimensions. Its inscriptions reads: "The council and the people have set up the statue of Fl(avius) Diophantès, son of Apollonios, grandson of Apollonios bis and...." This person thus far is unknown, as are his forefathers. The fact that he belongs to the Flavii and that his pedestal was different from the other ones could mean that this base was placed in the building at a later date, as was for instance also the case for the Aphrodite statue discovered in the nymphaeum's debris last year (see Field Notes 2003, Lower Agora, Nymphaeum, August 24-30). But in 2000, we found another statue base, although with different dimensions, in front of the two nymphaea along the north side of the Lower Agora. It could easily have fallen from the Hadrianic Nymphaeum's upper story. It honors in similar terms, the most prominent Flavian of the city: Ti. Flavius Severianus Neon as ktistès (founder), who through his paternal grandmother, Claudia Severa, was related to Claudius Peison. So an involvement of this man, as one of the heirs, in the construction of the Hadrianic nymphaeum cannot be excluded, especially as this must have occurred during his lifetime. This also could explain the presence of statues of other Flavii.

The position of the other statues found in 2003
Last year we exposed several marble statues of normal size in the eastern extremity of the fountain's drawing basin (see Field Notes 2003, Sculptural Studies, August 24-30). These included a nearly complete satyr, a Poseidon mainly missing its head, and a headless Aphrodite, as well as many fragments belonging to different statues. At least the central part of the upper floor seems to have been occupied by bronze statuary, which according to their bases, filled most of the five niches, while the rectangular niches of the lower story were filled with colossal sculptures. The new female statue, the satyr, the Poseidon, and some of the fragments cannot have occupied the two rounded niches of this story. This means that part of them must have been standing in the projecting side wings of the fountain.

The western extremity of the Odeion behind the Hadrianic Nymphaeum
Rather surprisingly, we found a tomb containing some human remains inside the vaulted space in the Odeion's facade (see Field Notes 2004, Hadrianic Nymphaeum, July 11-15), in the section immediately west of the Hadrianic nymphaeum. Unfortunately, the skeleton was incomplete and the bones were scattered around in the grave. This burial, about 1.70 m long, had an east-west rubble stone alignment. It is comparable with the early Christian burials (tentatively dated to the seventh century) dug in the earthquake debris on the western slope of the Lower Agora and found in previous years.

A statue base from the street in front of the Hadrianic Nymphaeum
Along the street running south of the Hadrianic nymphaeum, lying upside down against the latter's stairway, we discovered the central part (0.91 m high) of an inscribed pedestal. It had been replaced by a very carelessly carved Latin dedication, the first one to be discovered at Sagalassos, and most probably to an emperor. It was set up by a "praeses provinciae Pamphyliae D(omini) N(ostri) M. Ofeius (?)." The style of the characters and the reference to the emperor as Dominus Noster suggests a fourth century A.D. date. As Sagalassos was within the province of Pisidia (created by the emperor Diocletian), the dedication of a statue by a governor of Pamphyliae, a neighboring province, is quite striking.

Previous pageNext page

InteractiveDig is produced by ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine
© 2010 Archaeological Institute of America

Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA