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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The nymphaeum towards the end of the week seen from the southeast

Nymph standing on a dolphin from the socle of the west lateral wing
Two types of capitals from the nymphaeum

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

Hadrianic Nymphaeum: August 8-12, 2004

This sixth week of the excavations of the nymphaeum was dedicated to the excavation of its western section. No activities took place in the southeast corner of the Lower Agora. Our team managed to completely empty the Hadrianic fountain's water basin. Inside it measures 12 by 2.75 meters, its parapet has a height of 1.1 meters toward the south, and its surrounding walls stand 1.34 meters high on the other three sides. This height is as far as the upper socle molding that is decorated with nicely carved alternating open and closed palmettes. In spite of the violent earthquake destruction during the seventh century A.D., the pavement of the basin remained intact. The earthquake destruction layer contained many architectural fragments such as pieces of columns, small Corinthian capitals, composite capitals that were a mixture of palm-leaved and Corinthian ones, cornices, architraves, and plain masonry blocks. Hardly any small finds were collected inside this fountain debris. Nonetheless, we found pieces of bronze sculptures, some potsherds, and lead fragments (clamp attachments). A great many sculptural fragments were the most interesting finds within the nymphaeum's collapse and on the staircase leading to it from the south. The first day of the week we unearthed three left feet and parts of their bases belonging to three new, so far unidentified, statues. One of the sculpture parts represented a panther and another piece had animal paws on it. We are probably dealing with a Dionysos statue (see Sculptural Studies, August 8-12). We also found several arm and leg parts as well, all life-sized or smaller.

Our team unearthed more road slabs of the city's east-west street directly south of the nymphaeum. The street formed a kind of esplanade (a level stretch of ground) in this area, plus part of the western section of the fountain's staircase. The remains of both structures were very well preserved. We discovered an honorific monument on these road slabs carrying an inscription, but only a few words were legible because of erosion. We will study it more closely later on. This week we excavated almost the complete west wing of the Hadrianic fountain. It had a width of 2.9 meters at its base and reached a height of more than six meters above the old street level. We investigated the area south of the Odeion wall immediately west of the Hadrianic fountain, exposing more of the west wing facade of the nymphaeum. Many large architectural fragments were uncovered in this area, some of them originating from the Odeion itself (which had partially collapsed). Part of this zone was filled again for safety reasons and will be left untouched until next year. One of the blocks removed from this area belonged to the west wing's socle and represented a nymph standing on a dolphin.

Toward the end of the week, we found part of a portico (one step and two column bases still in place) built perpendicular to Odeion's south wall extending to a distance of about three meters south of the west wing of the fountain. So far, we have unearthed this portico over a length of more than three meters. On the same spot we discovered many colourful plaster fragments that originally covered the back wall of the portico. Its collapsed walls (and arches?) were made of a combination of tuff blocks and brick. It thus looks as if a kind of esplanade was built in front of the Hadrianic Nymphaeum, most probably in late antiquity. This could also explain the presence of several late pedestals and statue bases, at least some of which were dedicated to late Roman emperors. The location near the Apollo Klarios Temple (associated with the Imperial cult from the second half of the first century A.D. onward), the presence of the god's colossal statue and the statue of Hadrian himself may have given this esplanade a special meaning in the Imperial representation. Next week, this esplanade area and the late portico will be further investigated.

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