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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The last walking floor (phase 5) of beaten earth in room 7 (late sixth-early seventh century A.D.: see front of the picture), the remains of a dolium in the upper right corner. L-shaped corridor 6 is in the center.
The floor level of phase 4 in room 7 is visible in the upper left corner of the trench. In the center is foundation layer 8 of the internal subdivision walls, and in front is foundation trench 9 of the walls of phase 2.
Fragments of the polychrome mosaic floor dating to the late first or early second century A.D.
Two oil lamps found in room 5
View of the Northeast Building from the east at the end of the campaign. On the left are rooms 7 (front), 6 (center), and 5 (background). On the right, rooms 1 and 2 (front).

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

Upper Agora: July 25-29, 2004

During the last week of excavation in the Northeast Building in the Upper Agora, we concentrated on two of the smaller rooms inside what previously had been the central room. In reality, this room was the large southwest room, which had previously been wrongly identified as a corridor. Its later subdivisions (room 7 in the east, room 5 in the west) were examined in detail. The L-shaped corridor (?) separating the subdivisions (room 6) was not excavated further.

Room 7 measured 2.40 by 3.40 m and was accessible through doors in the north, east, and west. In the east, the room had a large arched window. Excavation revealed a series of different floor levels. The most recent phase was determined by a dolium (large earthenware jar) on top of a hard, dark earth beaten floor that was apparently a walking surface and dates to the late sixth-early seventh century A.D. It contained mortar, bone, and wood and might reflect a final repair of the building.

This last walking surface was preceded by a floor, which was largely removed during the last phase and is only partially preserved. We found several boxes of ceramics were retrieved as well as many bones and small finds, which might reveal the original function of the space. This occupation debris was separated from an earlier layer by a concentration of white mortar containing lime. This mortar layer might have been the result of dumping or of preparing mortar in the space proper. It also might represent a partially removed floor substrate. The next layer corresponds with the foundations of the internal subdivision walls. At first sight, this layer contained material of the fifth to sixth century A.D. This material might provide the date of this subdivision.

The foundation layer was laid out on top of an older floor substrate, below which were the foundation levels (layer 9) of earlier building walls. Layer 9 thus corresponds with the structure's second building phase. The layers consist of a series of piers made of bricklayers on top of a strong mortared limestone rubble foundation. The piers supported arcades with doors or windows. The ceramics told us that construction went back as far as the first century A.D. At first, the layer contained obsolete building materials. Materials included brick, rubble stones, multicolored fresco fragments, and parts of a demolished mosaic floor with polychrome geometric motifs (white, black, and purple mosaic tiles). These materials show that even during its first post-early Imperial transformation, the Northeast building must have been a very representative structure. Built either in the course of the first or the earlier part of the second century A.D., the building contained a mosaic floor in its central (rather, southwest) room. The room was surrounded on the north and east by nicely constructed brick piers that formed doors and windows to an outer arcade covered with painted frescoes.

Room 5 was a small corridor-type room of 4.70 by 2.60 m. It was situated between the colonnaded street in the south and (work)shop 1 in the north. It could have been entered from the street through a 0.96 m wide door, which had two steps covering a difference in height of 0.40 m. In this room we found a comparable stratigraphical sequence as that in room 7.

First we encountered a layer with occupational debris on top of the last walking surface. This level yielded an enormous amount of material that had been left behind after the room was abandoned and dated to the late sixth to early seventh century A.D. In addition to an abundance of pottery, we also found a key, a knife, a bone hairpin, and two coins. After its last occupation phase, the room was probably used for waste disposal.

Underneath the last walking level, we found a thinner, very dark layer of occupation material dating to the sixth century A.D. A series of six coins, albeit in poor condition, may make it possible to refine this date. The floor layer contained a lot of very small sherds (of which very few fit together) and two oil lamps that were almost complete. This last occupational level was preceded by a very hard floor substrate of whitish mortar. Apparently an earlier floor had been removed here.

Conclusion: after this campaign, the following phases can tentatively proposed for the Northeast Building:

  • Phase 1: As part of the rearrangement of the Upper Agora in early Imperial times, a rectangular structure (only the northwest corner still preserved now) made of nicely carved large mason blocks with a corner pilaster was erected in the northeast corner of the Upper Agora. The location, size, and finishing of the building suggests it had a public function.

  • Phase 2: During the later first/earlier part of the second century A.D., the internal division of the building was adapted. It received a polychrome mosaic floor, at least in the greatest part of it (what we have termed room 3). Brick piers created a kind of internal arcade along the north and east side; one of the openings here rather was a window and its two flanking piers were standing on a continuous brick fortification wall. Only the floor substrate (layer 9) of this mosaic floor still exists. Remains of the foundation suggests an internal division of the southern part of the building as well. The foundations of its south wall were encountered only in room 7. Its location was the same as that of the current south wall.

  • Phase 3: Perhaps after an earthquake around A.D. 500, the original north and south walls of the Northeast Building seem to have collapsed. The current north and south walls, which contain reused marble from the early Imperial building, were constructed then. The fact that the new north wall had beam holes in its interior face, for which there is no counterpart in the preserved north face of the most recent northern arcade, may suggest that at first the northern arcade had survived and contained the corresponding holes to support a wooden ceiling or floor. A floor level connected with this phase could not be identified. Back then, the building must have had an upper story. The south wall was now composed of a mortared rubble wall with rectangular door openings (to room 5) as well as a larger arched opening that gave access to room 6. The function of the building, the same as that of phase 2, may have continued.

  • Phase 4: In the course of the sixth century, a new north arcade was built that was composed of reused limestone columns supporting rectangular stone blocks. The stones were used as impost capitals carrying an upper structure mainly made of mortared rubble. It is possible that the floor level corresponding with this construction phase is represented by foundation layer 8. Layer 8 is the foundation trench of the walls dividing the earlier central space into smaller rooms (5-7), and by floor substrate 7. The subdivision of the north arcade into individual (work) shops (1-2) may also go back to the same period. At that time, the floor consisted of tile and tuff blocks. The subdivision of both the northern arcade (as well as the previous large or central southwest room 3) into smaller units could point towards a functional change that most probably represents an encroachment with an artisanal character. The large arched entrance to room 6 seems to have been partially walled off, and its entrance seems to have been considerably reduced in size.

  • Phase 5: During the later sixth/early seventh century A.D., the floor level inside the southern rooms (at least 5 and 7) was raised again and is now composed of beaten earth. The artisanal function may have been maintained, as is suggested by the presence of a ceramic jar bottom found still in place. Room 6 may have been completely closed off from the south now. In the street in front, a cistern seems to have been constructed.

  • Phase 6: In the course of the seventh century, this once-elaborate building located along the corner of the city's main square was completely abandoned. The opening between the piers of the arcade separating room 2 at the back from the rest of the building was partially walled up. The remaining entrance to room 6 was closed off as well. Room 2, as well as rooms 5 and 7 in the south, were now used as a public dumping area.

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