Excavations near the Theater: July 4-8, 2004
The main result of the third week of excavations, which took place within the Potters' Quarter near the theater, was a better perception of the chronological evolution within the workshop complex that was exposed after its identification through geophysical research. The work was supervised by Jeroen Poblome and Peter Talloen, assisted by Geroen Joris, Nathalie Kellens, and Veerle Lauwers from KULeuven, and by Yaprak Özkunü and Senem Özdem from Istanbul University. The plan of the workshop area was drawn by architects Selin Saraç and Serdar Saygi (both Istanbul Technical University).
The original phase of occupation of the excavated area may go back to the first century A.D. Remains of this period consist of a layer of occupational waste associated with a couple of mortared rubble walls that form large elongated spaces. The quality of the construction of the walls and the general dimension of the spaces suggest a possible function as storage facilities. Upon the abandonment of these structures a gap in occupation occurred into the second half of the fifth century A.D., when the walls of the old structures were incorporated into a newly laid out artisanal complex. This workshop features seven kilns. Two of these kilns may belong to an older layout of the workshop. Upon the installation of the five other well-preserved keyhole shaped kilns (in the same shape as the previous ones) with internal ledges, the earlier kilns were dismantled to their very bottom.
The workshop mainly functioned as a production center for the manufacturing of mold-made decorated vessels, figurines, and masks. Its main period of activity in the fifth and sixth century A.D. was confirmed by excavation. A nice example of this activity is a positive fired clay model for the creation of molds of terra-cotta heads representing helmeted warriors, possibly Christian military saints. During the last two years, similar heads were found in and around the sixth century A.D. guards' houses in the northeast corner of the Lower Agora.
|A model for making molds for heads of Christian soldier saints
Somewhat to our surprise, the kilns seem to have been partially dismantled and rearranged in order to facilitate the burning of marble for the production of lime. From the fill within some of these kilns, it is clear that this new activity started in the second half of the sixth century A.D. As noted in the previous excavations in the workshops on the eastern slope of the Potters' Quarter, the kilns were thoroughly cleaned and intentionally back-filled in order to prevent any type of further use. In some cases the filling involved the walling up of the firing places.
The last attested pattern of activity within the excavated area consists of a series of rudimentary water channels. From a stratigraphical point of view they were found within the erosional stratum and entirely covered the excavated remains. As a result of their placement, their chronological position is quite unclear. Since we only recovered parts of these channels, we also lack information about their function.