Welcome back to Sagalassos! Work has begun on this year's excavations during which we'll explore a number of areas, including the Domestic Area, the Roman Baths, the Makellon or food market, the Odeion, and the Eastern Domestic Quarter. Here's an overview of what we have planned for each area and what we hope to find out.
Our excavations in the Domestic Area started in 1995, east of a yet unexplored street that connected the central and the upper part of the town. We identified a large dwelling that during late Roman times (from the fourth century A.D. onward) assumed substantial dimensions, with 44 rooms found so far over three successive or terraced levels. Thus far, four older construction periods of part of the housing complex could be identified. After repairs following an earthquake in the early sixth century A.D., the mansion was subdivided in two successive phases into three or four smaller units. At least part of the complex remained occupied in the later sixth and seventh centuries A.D., as was confirmed by the pottery. Research is ongoing to determine whether the end of the occupation coincided with the earthquake that destroyed Sagalassos around the middle of the seventh-century A.D., shortly afterwards, or even preceded it.
This year we'll try to complete the excavation of various rooms and spaces:
- The northeastern corner of Rooms XXV and XXVIII. We plan a trench for around the southeast corner of room XXVIII, which is associated with the building evidence related to the oldest building phase so far attested in the house. We want to determine previous building phases and occupation levels, so that the architectural evidence can be tied in to the stratigraphic sequence and a more precise chronology can be developed for the evolution of at least this part of the house. These works are dependent on the progress of the conservation works and the general safety condition of the area.
- The eastern half of Room XVI. Completion of the consolidation of the walls and vaults of the vaulted corridors on the intermediate level of the house and improving the general safety condition of the area.
- Rooms XXI and XXXIX form part of the original courtyard arrangement of the house. Restricted test trenches within both rooms should allow the architectural evidence to be tied in to the stratigraphic sequence, and a more precise chronology developed for the evolution of at least this part of the house. These works are dependent on the progress of the conservation works and the general safety condition of the area.
- Underneath the mosaic, which was removed during last season for conservation purposes, in Room XVII, a small test trench is proposed in order to document the structural features of the mosaic construction, and most of all to provide further chronological criteria for the construction date of the mosaic, possibly along with previous phases of flooring.
We also want to extend the excavation in the western part of the house, where one of the entrances to the complex could be located, and in the southern, lower sector of the house. In part of this section a utilitarian area was identified along with a substantial dining room. Detailed study should reveal the relationship of the possibly different original housing units, and their potential merging.
Further, we want to document possible older building phases of the villa, document the collapse and abandonment processes and continue the contextual analysis of the house and its many rooms.
2004 excavations in the Domestic Area
The Roman Baths at Sagalassos have been under excavation since 1995, thanks to a generous grant made available by the L.Lamberts Van Assche family. The complex was built on a natural hill located to the east of the Lower Agora, as part of a general reorganization of the area. Early in the second century A.D., most likely during the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), the top of the hill was levelled and all previous construction dismantled. At the same time, its surface was enlarged considerably by the construction of a substantial artificial terrace, composed of at least five large vaulted rooms. We already investigated four of these rooms and their connecting corridors. Most of these rooms never served any specific purpose. Only during late antiquity, possibly when the whole complex was under reconstruction after the early sixth-century A.D. earthquake, was one of these rooms transformed into a public lavatory with a capacity of around 50 visitors.
In 1999, we excavated and studied a number of vaulted rooms located at the ground level in the western part of the bath complex. From 2000 onward, we decided to continue the excavations on the upper floor before continuing those below, in order to remove the enormous weight on top of the vaulted rooms.
We intend to continue our excavations this year in the following areas of the upper floor:
- The frigidarium (F 1), east of Caldarium 2
Only a very small area of the large cold-water bath exposed in 2001 has been excavated. Because of the possibility of transporting the excavation earth, the presence of large ashlar blocks from the pillars that supported the roof, and for safety reasons, the excavation of this room will continue toward the east and south.
- The eastern section of the Roman Baths, defined by four major central pillars in the central part of Frigidarium 1, flanked to the north and south by identical hall defined by two rows of six smaller pillars each. This area has not yet been explored by excavation, but this year we intend to expose part of the northern hall.
- The northern facade of the Baths building, for the purpose of locating its original and possibly modified entrances. The north wall of the northern frigidarium indicated the fact that the entrance to the monument could have been relocated.
2004 excavations in the Roman Baths
In A.D. 167, P. Aelius Akulas, a local citizen who had received his citizenship from Hadrian, dedicated the Makellon (food market) to Marcus Aurelius, most probably in honour of his Parthian victory. The Makellon is located at a lower terrace to the southeast of the Upper Agora. The complex, composed of a courtyard, open to the south, but surrounded on the three other sides by rows of shops and featuring a central circular building or tholos, followed western prototypes. In the case of Sagalassos, however, the structure was most probably modelled on a similar, but larger squares built at Perge, during the reign of Antoninus Pius or Marcus Aurelius. A similar circular edifice was also erected on the agora at the nearby city of Side at the same time.
Exploring this building for the first time in 2005, we aim to:
- Focus the excavation in the western half of the building, inside and in front of its western portico, extending up to the central tholos.
- Document the original construction date of the building, along with any subsequent changes and possible phases of encroachment, abandonment and collapse.
- Do contextual analysis based on the study of all material evidence found inside the shops (ceramics, metal, glass, faunal and botanical remains) in order to identify the nature of each shop and to document the final period of its use or transformation for other functions.
The Odeion or concert building of Sagalassos is situated on a terrace to the north of the Lower Agora, partly built into the slope below the Upper Agora. The construction consisted of a covered semi-circular auditorium with a radius of 24 m, preceded to the south by a stage building. Part of the Odeion's back wall stands to its full height, preserving the square beam holes for its roof structure, but showing several repairs. The upper rows of benches inside the building seem to have largely disappeared, but the lower ones may still be preserved below the surface. The auditorium may have seated up to 3,000 spectators. The Odeion could have been entered from the west, where a row of steps leading down to the orchestra is still visible near the place where it abuts the Hadrianic Nymphaeum, as well as from the east, where an arched entrance at a lower level emerges just above the surface.
The position of the late Hadrianic Nymphaeum built against the plain south facade of the Odeion offers a terminus ante quem for the latter. A late first or early second century A.D. date also seems to be corroborated by the plain decoration of the architrave and fluted frieze of the entablature of the stage building. A Trajanic date, contemporary with the remodelling of the rest of the Lower Agora, seems most probable. In late antiquity, the building seems to have been incorporated into the late Roman city walls.
This year, we will start the excavations inside the eastern half of the Odeion and in the area immediately adjoining this part of the building. Our aims are
- To document the building history of the building, including establishing its construction date stratigraphically, documenting any subsequent changes and defining its period of abandonment.
- To document possible structural and functional modifications to the building, for instance, as a result of the advent of Christiantity.
- To document the degree of preservation of the building.
- To establish the relationship of the building with its immediate environment. For instance, in other areas of public nature the phenomenon of encroachment by other buildings has been repeatedly established in late antiquity. For this purpose special attention will be paid to the eastern entrance to the Odeion.
- To document the position of the Odeion on the evolving urban landscape of Sagalassos. The Odeion seems to have been the southern most monumental structure following an orientation defined by that of the late Hellenistic council house, which was the focal point of the more regular layout of the upper city, and which was different from the orientation of the grid system in the lower city. The latter followed the layout of the Augustan Apollo Klarios temple. The middle Hadrianic Nymphaeum built in front, and partially against the Odeion formed the transition between the two different layouts.
Test Trenches in the Eastern Domestic Quarter
We initiated a program of test trenches on presumed streets in 1998 and continued it during the campaigns of 1999 and 2000. The location of the trenches was determined by the urban intensive survey. These tests provided an insight in the character and chronology of the layout of the urban infrastructure at Sagalassos and allowed us to get a firmer grip on the spatial evolution of the urban area outside of the monumental center. The geophysical survey, which we have carried out at Sagalassos since 2002, has revealed structures and features buried over a large part of the site. But this evidence needs to have a chronological framework added to it by means of the test trenches.
Our aims for 2005 are twofold:
- On the slope between the Theater to the east and the Library-Fountain House complex to the west, the geophysical survey of the 2002 campaign revealed a regular pattern of insulae (city blocks) divided by streets. These results could be compared to the evidence from the earlier test soundings on this slope and to the surface architecture. Whereas the northwestern part of the geophysically surveyed area showed regularly planned, slightly northwest-southeast oriented insulae, the plan of the eastern and southeastern parts of the surveyed slope showed more irregular and less symmetrically planned structures, which were built perpendicular to the slope. During the 2004 campaign, a first trench was excavated on the northwestern part with regularly planned insulae. This excavation showed that these insulae must have been laid out in the early imperial period and seemed to have been abandoned in late antiquity. Other small test trenches should now be carried out on well selected locations in the eastern and southeastern parts to determine from which period the layout of these areas dates from, and to allow us to determine whether the divergent orientations on this slope were the result of two different building phases.
- The geophysical survey also showed that the eastern domestic area was traversed from northwest to the southeast by an important street, which seemed to connect the Library-Fountain House area with the Theater, although this artery obviously did not follow the regular organisation of the insulae. Two test excavations were already carried out during the 2000 campaign, also confirming the urban development of this part of town in Augustan times, when a cobbled street and an adjoining ashlar masonry building were laid out. For the connective street, however, the context of the building programs around the Fountain House and of the Theater would favor a construction date of this street during the later second or early third century A.D. Therefore, a test excavation is required to check the particular features of this street, its date of layout, and possibly also the impact of the construction of this street or its predecessor on the urban planning of this part of the slope.
Test Trenches in the Apollo Klarios Sanctuary
The sanctuary of Apolo Klarios is situated to the west of the Lower Agora on top of a natural hill, which was enlarged toward the west by impressive buttressed terrace walls in polygonal masonry. Within the temple precinct, an Ionic temple with unfluted columns (six on each end and 11 on each side) measuring 13.50 x 24.75 m, was built on top of a krepidoma (stepped base). The remains of this sanctuary indicate that it was changed several times throughout its existence. Based on the architectural decoration, its original layout, consisting of the cella and the temenos wall, it is dated to the reign of the emperor Augustus. The close association between emperor and god may have given rise to an implicit imperial worship, which later on resulted in the establishment of the imperial cult in the sanctuary.
In late antiquity, the temple was converted into a basilica, with a length of 31.30 m and a width of 16.60 m. The colonnades on the building's shorter East and West sides were dismantled and the columns used to extend the longer colonnades on the north and south, thus creating three aisles separated by two rows of columns. At the same time the walls of the cella were dismantled and the stones reused in the construction of new walls built outside the colonnade. In this manner the building was literally turned inside out. As suggested by the continuous transept plan, this conversion of the temple occurred sometime during the second half of the fifth century or early sixth century A.D.
The sanctuary was destroyed in the middle of the seventh century by the fatal earthquake that leveled the city. Yet, the fact that a seventh-century A.D. graveyard was established in the earthquake debris covering the western edge of the Lower Agora, suggests that the building may have seen some repairs afterward or at least continued to be considered a favorite burial spot by the surviving population.
A number of test trenches are planned in areas inside and along the southern part of the church building where the monumental architectural remains do not hinder such an undertaking. The aims of this year's investigation are twofold.
Firstly, we want to trace the history of the sanctuary in its stratigraphic record. As Apollo was already worshiped at Sagalassos during the Hellenistic period, judging by the numismatic sources, test trenches may reveal whether cultic activity was already taking place on the site of the later sanctuary in the pre-Augustan period. Furthermore, they could confirm the Augustan date for the original layout of the temple-complex, as well as the date for the reconstruction of the temple in A.D. 103. These excavations will also indicate how long the sanctuary survived as a place of pagan worship and whether its closure involved violence. They will also date the Christian transformation of the building and its final abandonment.
Secondly, the trenches will provide us with information concerning the nature of the worship at this sacred site over more than 600 years. This would comprise traces of the cult of Apollo, the deified emperors, and the Christian God and his saints. In respect to the latter we would like to investigate whether the form of the building, namely a transept-basilica, corresponds to a martyrium, housing the relics of a saint.
Test Trenches on the N-S Colonnaded Street
A preliminary study of the North-South Colonnaded street was carried out during the architectural survey of the late 1980s, when a 1:200 scale map was drawn. However useful, this map only shows the then visible remains of this almost 10m wide and 280m long artery. In view of current research on the streets of Sagalassos and encroachment upon these streets, it would be very useful to clean the accumulated sediment from the well-preserved northern part of this street, so that the paving slabs as well as other indications of the use of this street can become visible again and can be mapped.
As such, traces of encroachment in perishable materials (e.g. wooden stalls) may be exposed. On the other hand, the position of the slabs will allow us to determine, whether or not a built water (drainage) channel ran underneath this street, which would be important information for the reconstruction of the urban water network of Sagalassos. Finally, the further exposure of the paved street surface, of which some slabs are currently already visible, will allow us to investigate the composition of the foundation of this street by means of georadar and to compare it to other streets discovered so far at Sagalassos.