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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of the excavations in the large room. The left team excavates the apodyterium; the right team is looking for the frigidarium's north wall.
Plan of the Roman Baths at the beginning of the 2004 season. The ocher colored walls represent the original second-century A.D. exterior and interior supporting ashlar walls, the green colored ones the contemporary brick curtain walls. Pink corresponds with fourth-century A.D. interventions in mortared rubble alternating with brick; yellow with late fourth- to sixth-century A.D. changes. Red shows sixth century.

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

Roman Baths: July 11-15, 2004

We continued the second week of the excavations in the Roman Baths in the two rooms to the north of the central hall, which were used for Imperial representation and worship. Apparently there was no wall separating the undressing room (apodyterium) in the west (A1 and A 2 on the plan) and the cold-water room (no heating systems in walls or floor!) with the pool (frigidarium) in the east (F 2 on the the plan). On the contrary, both rooms seem to have formed a continuous space of ca. 32 by 11 m. During the final phase of the structure, the eastern section was covered with a white marble floor. Most of its interior was occupied by a swimming pool (still unexcavated). An exploratory trench made in 2003 showed that green cipollino marble from the Greek island of Euboia still covers its sides. A large rounded niche formed the eastern extremity; a rectangular recess flanked by two rounded ones formed the south wall. The date of this cold-water room is uncertain, but it may have belonged to the original layout of the baths (built between the A.D. 120s and 165), We think this because of its massive brick walls, which indicate a technique that at Sagalassos seems to have been characteristic for that period.

The current layout and function of the apodyterium certainly is later in date, although the north and south walls (mostly composed of solid brick) could have been contemporaneous with those of the cold-water bath. But some features--such as the pilaster capitals of the rich marble veneer in Docimian (or Afyon) marble and the polychrome opus sectile floor--suggest a fourth-century A.D. refurbishment of the room. We think that the benches built along the walls were placed here toward the beginning of the fifth century A.D. based on coin and ceramic finds inside their interior mortared rubble structure. Placement probably happened at the time when the central hall of the complex (the so-called "Kaisersaal") was transformed into a second hot water room (caldarium, C2 on the plan), connected to the undressing room by a heated corridor (Co 1). The fact that these benches were built on top of the opus sectile floor also suggests that they were a later addition necessitated by a change in function of the room, which served another purpose before the addition. Today, the apodyterium is L-shaped as in its western part; its southern half is occupied by a heated corridor (Co 3). The latter, as well as the smaller western extremity of the undressing room, could represent a latter addition as their west and internal division walls were made of mortared rubble alternating with layers of bricks. The larger eastern part of the apodyterium had a different makeup with large rectangular recesses along its brick-built north and south walls. However, we must not exclude that they once contained basins, as in the narrow space to the south of the western rectangular recess in the south wall called corridor 4 (see plan). During the 2002 campaign, some water pipes were encountered in place at ca. 3 m above the floor level of the apodyterium. They could have brought water to both the large basins of the second caldarium (the former "Kaisersaal," ca. fifth century A.D.) or to basins placed in the niches along the south wall of the apodyterium. Toward the end of the week, we found a corresponding recess in the north wall that seems to have formed an entrance to the room. The beginning of a brick arch was found at its western edge, leading us to believe that it was an entrance.

Whatever the original date and purpose of the large room was, its clear distinction into two spaces at a later date (also reflected in a different type of floor pavement) seems to require some greater division between them than a continuous wall, of which potential traces should already have been found. Last season, a large pilaster in grayish-green marble, inscribed with Christian graffiti, was found broken in two pieces lying on the apodyterium floor. A row of such pilasters could have divided both spaces, but thus far no other similar fragments have been exposed. On the contrary, we unearthed several column fragments were unearthed, made of different types of stone, such as white Docimian marble (Afyon seker), green cipollino and conglomerate. However, we cannot identify their original location because of their fragmentary state.

In the frigidarium section, we found only the usual, pottery, pieces of water pipes, metal clamps and nails, tesserae (mosaic stones), and some animal bone and crustae (pieces of wall veneer). We also retrieved a piece of ashlar (masonry stone). In the apodyterium area, a destruction layer still filled most of the northern half of the room. Farther south we encountered a meters-thick destruction layer that contained several architectural fragments. Within this layer a further subdivision was made which contained a particularly high amount of ashes, burnt brick or tile, and charcoal. We also exposed another section of water channel carved in volcanic stone here that followed more or less the same north-south orientation as pieces found earlier. Their location at several meters above the floor level suggests that they originally drained rainwater from the bath's roof. Further finds included a fourth-century A.D. coin of the emperor Valens, a piece of statuary, and a fragment of a Hellenistic osteotheca (ash urn) that represents the handle of a sword. The fragment must have been reused as a mere rubble stone. Although the excavations in the apodyterium section are still at a height of ca 1.60 m above its floor level, the excavation team has started to find considerable amounts of wall veneer and mosaic stones.

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