The street team, directed by Femke Martens and assisted by Bart De Graeve (both KULeuven) started cleaning the paved surface of the North-South Colonnaded street, along with Luke Lavan (junior research fellow K.U.Leuven).
So far, they have exposed a 15 m long stretch of the 9.75 m wide street, starting at its first crossing with side streets south of the Lower Agora. This part of the city was inhabited in Hellenistic times as shown by the South Gate (ca. 50 m farther south) in addition to a late Hellenistic monument decorated with weaponry at the street crossing mentioned above. The pavement proved to be extremely well preserved, with limestone slabs of variable width set in rows with a west-east orientation. At the northern edge of our trench, we found a line of reused blocks and rubble blocks that was laid out on the street in a west-east direction as a kind of barrier. The precise function of this "wall" can not yet be established. Its haphazard appearance, as well as the presence of a reused block showing a peculiar relief of a seemingly Byzantine style, seem to suggest that this barrier was very late and only occurred after the street had been abandoned. This is also indicated by the presence of a thin layer of earth in between the wall and the pavement slabs.
The primary reasons for cleaning this street, were--apart from the detailed mapping of its surface and part of its portico--to identify possible traces of encroachment in perishable materials (such as wooden stalls) and other indications of the use of the street. Such signs of ancient use comprised different kinds of graffiti as well as game boards inscribed on paving stones, which is Luke Lavan's field of expertise. Two faintly visible incised game boards could in fact be identified on the exposed slabs.
As expected, the street showed no signs of incised wheel ruts. Previous research on the network of streets of Sagalassos by Martens, indicated that alternatives to wheeled transport, such as pack-animals, must have been frequently used for transport within the town proper. The steeply sloping terrain made it necessary for north-south streets, including the North-South Colonnaded street, to be at least partially arranged as stepped passages. Wheeled traffic may thus only have been possible along the west-east routes, under the condition that inclinations did not exceed 9 percent. An inclination of 15 percent is generally considered as the limit for comfortable wheeled transport, which excluded many streets at Sagalassos. The North-South Colonnaded Street was crossed by a west-east axis as well. Therefore, to determine the use of this street, our trench will be expanded next week toward the west. This expansion will allow us to relate these new insights to the results of a 1998 test sounding we carried out on this side street that revealed an early Byzantine encroachment on this street, possibly by shops.
Finally, the expansion of our trench toward the west will also allow us to obtain insights in the organization and architectural finishing of the portico west of the Colonnaded Street. Soundings below the slabs should confirm the supposed second-century A.D. date of the current street, as well as the date of later repairs.