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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Location of the "gymnasium" on the plateau to the east of the theater
Trench 1 with the division wall between the two western rooms along the north side of the "gymnasium." The slightly projecting foundations of both north wall and dividing wall are clearly visible.
Trench 2 with the western wall of the "ephebeion." In the foreground is the late construction over the older structure.

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

Excavations near the Theater: July 18-22, 2004

The "gymnasium" area
During the second excavation week at the supposed gymnasium we gained further information about the building's chronology. The large structure seems to have the same form and subdivision as the Hellenistic gymnasium at Miletus. It consists of a large open area, most probably the palaestra (sports' courtyard), flanked by a series of taller rooms in the north, the larger central one of which may be the ephebeion, the class room for the male youths. A row of smaller rooms borders the courtyard's south edge. To the south of it, we located a curved structure as wide as the "gymnasium" itself.

Geophysical image of the "gymnasium" and the plan of the Hellenistic gymnasium of Miletus

The team directed by P. Talloen continued working in a trench where the foundations of the north wall of the complex were exposed, as well as those of an interior wall. The ceramic material places construction of the complex in the second century A.D., the most intensive building period in the history of Sagalassos. There is a fair chance that the monument was built during the first half of that century, presumably part of a complete rearrangement of the theater area. The latter has been dated to the last two decades of the second century A.D., but this date is based solely on the decoration of the stage building, which may have been the last element to be completed. Construction of the auditorium must have started much earlier. The presence of a gymnasium (this identification is thus far not contradicted by the ongoing excavations) nearby makes sense. We laid out a second trench (diagonally three meters to the east of the first one) in order to investigate the central room of the series north of the central courtyard. On the basis of its location and size (approximately 15 by 12 m), we tentatively identified this room as the ephebeion. Only the west wall of this large room was uncovered over a length of nine m.

We found only few large and middle-sized stones in the architectural debris covering the floor substrate in both trenches. As already noted, this suggests that the complex was dismantled to a large extent upon abandonment and that all re-usable building material was removed from the walls, leaving only the mortar. The absence of an actual floor level in the first trench may indicate that even the floor slabs were taken away for reuse. The few sherds we retrieved point toward the late fourth-early fifth century A.D. and may hint at the period when the building was dismantled. The destruction layer was covered by occupational debris, including, beside the already mentioned bones from slaughtered animals, numerous coins, bone hairpins, sherds of glass vessels, and iron knives. This was mixed with discarded material from the nearby Potters' Quarter such as kiln fragments and spacers, misfired pottery, and an unusually large amount of ceramics. On top of this dumped material, a badly preserved wall indicates a later occupation phase. Since the associated floor could no longer be distinguished as a result of centuries of percolation and bioturbation in the upper stratum, we found no clear chronological information concerning this last phase.

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