As in last year's campaign, we are continuing to work in two teams along the north side of the immense Roman Baths. Constructed between the A.D. 120s and 165, the baths were transformed during the sixth century A.D.
The northern frigidarium area (F 2)
Last year we exposed a second frigidarium (cold water area) with a marble clad piscina (pool) to the north of the larger cold water room. The same team of workmen as last year continued this excavation, again supervised by Markku Corremans (KULeuven) and by Erdal Ünal (Eskisehir University). Our main aim this week was to excavate a large bench of rubble that probably covers the dividing wall with the undressing room or apodyterium further west. At the end of the week we removed this bench, which had a total volume of just under 60 cubic meters. In order to achieve this goal, large pieces of Roman concrete stones had to be lifted by a crane.
As we expected, few finds were made in the layers excavated. Just some pottery, pieces of waterpipes, a few metal clamps, some mosaic stones, a bit of animal bone, and marble wall veneer have been recovered. We also unearthed an ashlar piece (piece of square masonry), a fragment of a limestone column base, and a large piece of a water channel carved in a volcanic material. A special find was that of a mixing bowl decorated with a bull's head. It is peculiar to see this kind of artifact so high above floor level; possibly the piece had been reused as a building element during a later repair of the room.
The contours of rectangular niches, similar to the ones found in the apodyterium (changing room) and the frigidarium (cold water area) during the last campaign, have been found in the southern and the northern walls of the the apodyterium and the frigidarium. The dimensions of these niches, and the wall sections in between them, seem to indicate that there is a continuation of the niches along an east-west axis both in the northern wall and the southern one. The walls between the niches have the same widths, so it is to be expected that there is symmetry between the north and the south wall. Next week we hope to find the wall that possibly may separate the apodyterium and the frigidarium.
The area of the apodyterium (A1 - A2)
Last season we discovered a large and richly decorated L-shaped room to the west of the new frigidarium. In the course of the fourth century, this room seems to have been renovated with new marble wall veneer from Dokimeion (Afyon marble) and with a beautiful polychrome floor with rectangular small marble slabs in different intersecting shapes and colors. The original function of this room remains unclear, but in the early fifth century, benches were arranged against its sidewalls, turning it into an undressing room or apodyterium. This rearrangement was undoubtedly connected with the transformation of the central hall of the baths into a second hot water room or caldarium. Henceforth a heated corridor connected both spaces (see Field notes 2003). The central hall was originally devoted to the Imperial representation with a dedication to the co-rulers Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (inscription dated to A.D. 165).
The aim of the excavations in this area during the 2004 campaign, supervised by Johan Claeys (KULeuven) and Murat Arik (Adnan Menderes University) is to expose the eastern extremity of this room. Because its walls are still standing several meters high, we must excavate the northern row of rooms next to it in order to facilitate earth removal.
Here, some 50 cubic meters were taken away across four sectors of five by five m. As the actual prolongation of the northern wall of the baths runs through some of these sectors, we may also discover the main entrance to the complex somewhere in this area. In this respect, the first week already produced some interesting structures. Throughout all sectors we encountered several large lumps of concrete vault or wall parts. Their actual orientation corresponds with that of the supposed north facade of the building. This wall was constructed in square masonry on the outside, but had an inner wall in Roman concrete. In between these concrete lumps, which were lifted by crane, there was a thick fill of limestone rubble and mortar that had broken loose from the same wall and made excavation extremely difficult.
Contrary to these collapsed structures, we also exposed some remains that were in place. In the northeast corner of the trench, we found a door lintel which must belong to a corridor perpendicular to the facade and must have given access from the (main?) entrance to the room north of the apodyterium. Likewise we exposed two large stone water channels in volcanic stone, of the same type as that found in the frigidarium. They still lie, apparently upside down, in each other's prolongation. Their orientation (running northwest to southeast) seems to indicate that they are not in an in situ position. They correspond with at least two other similar parts already exposed in previous seasons and could represent rain collectors of the roof. The finds of this week were merely some occasional terra-cotta water pipe fragments and some small fragments of inlay and metal clamps.