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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Aerial view of the palatial mansion excavation, with ongoing work in rooms XXXVI, XLV, and XLVI on the right
L- shaped corridor XXXV with its staircase and floor of purple schist slabs. In the background, annexes XXXI and XLIV of the large reception hall XXII. On the left below, the door with its sill leading into courtyard XLV
View of the excavation in courtyard XLV. Above left, room XLVI with its large window and an orange sheet protecting the mosaic from an upper level after its preliminary treatment. On the right, the arched windows opening unto corridor XLVI are visible.

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

Domestic Area: August 7-11, 2005

The Domestic Area team directed by Inge Uytterhoeven and Ine Jacobs concentrated during the fifth week of our campaign on excavating room XXXVI of the late Roman palatial mansion. The eastern part of this L-shaped space, a corridor composed of a purple schist slab staircase, was already partly uncovered in 2002. This staircase led up to the vestibule (XXXV) and waiting lounge (XVII), both decorated with exquisite geometric mosaic floors, and the large reception hall XXII with its annexes XXXI and XLIV (see Domestic Area, July 10-14, 2005). As expected, the lower continuation of the staircase was found. In all, the staircase consisted of five steps, in the upper section two with an east-west orientation and in the lower section (exposed this week) two with a north-south orientation. Both sections were connected through a small intermediary level in the northeast corner of the corridor, forming a larger fifth step. Toward the west, the staircase did not descend deeper, but it ended there on a large floor (2.60m by 4.15m) also made of purple schist slabs.

In fact, the west wall of the room, where at first we supposed the entrance was to be found, appeared to be a solid, closed wall. It obviously once contained a narrow door opening, carefully lined with tuff blocks, but in a later phase this door was blocked with a mixture of small-sized limestone rubble and tuff blocks. The principal entrance to room XXXVI was located in its northern wall, where the team uncovered a large marble doorsill with pivot holes, underneath the westernmost of the row of three arches, which separate staircase XXXVI from courtyard XLV. The opening was again lined with tuff blocks, of which only the eastern ones are preserved up to a height of 2.55 m, while the western doorpost is reduced to a mere 0.54 m. The two eastern arches were partially closed off, except for a window located at different heights corresponding with the sloping angle of the staircase. The latter drew its light from courtyard XLV through these windows. The connection of the reception area to the courtyard probably indicates that the main entrance to the urban mansion is situated in its northern facade, most likely below the modern road to the upper city. In that case this main access may have opened unto courtyard XLV.

The floor level of this courtyard must be located at a somewhat lower level. However, because of soil removal problems the team had to postpone the excavations here and moved again to room XLVI located east of it (see Domestic Area, July 17-21, 2005). Last week, we discovered a large collapsed wall in the eastern profile of the trench. This week, parts of a colorful floor mosaic emerged from the rubble debris. This mosaic must be originating from another, higher story of the house. The largest fragment (1.40 by 0.56 m) is composed of tesserae in six different colors (white, blue-black, purple, red, orange and yellow). It possessed a broad edge consisting of diagonal lines in these six colors, colorful meanders lined with black and white tesserae and a guilloche motif (combinations of purple-white, yellow-white, red-orange-white) on a dark background. Because of its bad condition, this mosaic fragment had to be consolidated by the conservation team, after which it could be brought to the excavation house. Next week, we will uncover the adjoining piece, which is much larger and standing upright inside the destruction material.

[image]The smallest (now removed) part of the mosaic that fell into room XLVI from a higher level. The adjoining, much larger part is visible standing upright below it.

The discoveries of this week once again made it clear that the northern part of the house was composed of public and representational areas, as opposed to the more private wings located around courtyards XIII and XXV, with among others a private bath complex.

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