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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
These bones represent 23 hind legs of sheep and goat.

Skeleton of a goat. The parts of the animal found in the Roman Baths are shown in red.

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

Subsistence Studies: August 1-5, 2004

The analysis of animal bones concentrated this week on the fauna from the material dumped into the Gymnasium (site G) and yielded additional evidence on waste disposal patterns within the town. It appears that the composition of the fauna is very similar to what was observed earlier in the Potter's Quarter. It is mainly refuse of domestic mammals (cattle, sheep/goat, and pig) that were consumed, but also the bones of dead animals that were dumped far from the urban center. Several equids were thus identified, among which a mule or a hinny (click here for picture), as well as the bones of a dog. It is typical of animals that were not consumed that their skeleton is more or less completely represented and that the bones are intact without any trace of butchery or skinning marks. The absence of gnaw marks from dogs and the fact that the bones show almost no weathering indicate that they were rather rapidly covered with sediment after disposal of the bodies.

A peculiar collection of sheep and goat bones was found on top of the destruction layer inside frigidarium 2 of the Roman baths, a site that only occasionally yields substantial quantities of animal bone. During the initial sorting of the bone it was already obvious that a special event had taken place where the concentration was found. The sheep and goat remains consist almost exclusively of hind limb elements (pelves, femora, tibiae, and anklebones). The bones of the foot, i.e. metatarsals and phalanges, which bear no meat, are missing. After careful recording and a lot of refitting and matching, it could be established that no less than 23 hind legs were deposited here. Both goats and sheep are present and, as usual, goats dominate the sample. The bones were found within layer 3, one of the various destruction layers inside the building. Their presence here indicates that the baths collapsed in successive phases, in between which this part of the "room" must have been accessible before the final collapse. In any case it is clear that we are dealing here with a single depositional event. It looks as if a lot of people participated at this party--depending on their appetite, we estimate that between 50 and 100 people must have gathered here. As the major part of the baths seem to have collapsed during a seventh-century A.D. earthquake, this faunal deposit shows that the site was not completely abandoned forever after this catastrophe, but still partially inhabited or visited (by caravans?).

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