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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The first storage vessels emerge in the upper storage room.

Some of the iron locking devices found in the lower storage facility

The exquisitely carved Augustan garland from the reused frieze block

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

Macellum: July 24-28, 2005

The Macellum (food market) excavation went ahead under the direction of Julian Richard (KULeuven) and Mustafa Kiremitci (Izmir University). Three rooms of the complex have been unearthed so far, together with an abundance of material. Both give us a first look at the layout and the functions of these spaces.

The first room, which we started to excavate last week, is located between the back wall of the Macellum and the southern terrace wall of the Upper Agora. It is triangular in shape and measures 4.50 by 4.60 by 2.26 m. The most remarkable discovery in this room was the abundance of its contents: seven large-sized dolia or storage vessels, some still with their ceramic or stone lid, as well as two jugs and one amphora found almost in situ in the room. We had the feeling of entering Ali Baba's cave. Except for one dolium, the vessels were broken, but most seem to be completely restorable. Their position has been carefully recorded and their contents sampled for macrobotanical remains such as grain. Some fragments might be used for residue analysis to establish the content of some of these vessels. The main question remaining about this space is the location of its entrance. A step-like structure in the room's northwest corner was initially considered to be the first step of a small staircase, but its height does not allow such an identification. It seems to have been a kind of cupboard from which the complete storage vessel fell down on the others. Excavations here next week should help to answer this question once the floor level is reached. The back wall of one of the Macellum's shops adjoining this storage room originally seems to have had a door opening to it. At present, it is blocked by two thinner slabs, which may have been placed there to block off the storage facility for an unknown reason.

The second room we've been investigating is south of the storage room, be it at a much lower level and outside of the Macellum. It is rectangular in shape, measuring 2.65 by 4 m. So far, only the destruction layer is being excavated, but it is distinguishable from the storage room by the recovered material, which is singularly different. It has yielded a large variety of ceramic and glass vessels. However, the metal finds are the most interesting material: some suspension and locking devices (some of them possibly for wooden coffins) were particularly well preserved. A concentration of charcoal and roof tiles indicates that we are slowly approaching the floor level, which should be reached next week.

Finally, we started to dig in the Macellum itself, in the first shop of the west wing that we identified and measured last week (5.10 by 5.35 m). Although this excavation is at an early stage, some finds need to be mentioned, such as a well-preserved reused but exquisitely carved frieze block representing a ram's head (broken off below), from which ribbons hang, as well as fruits garlands (with poppies, vine leaves, grapes, and berries). Re-used in the back wall of the shop, it has been provisionally dated to the Augustan period. On the one hand, it does not have the stronger relief and deeper carving, which can be found in the SW Gate of the Lower Agora at Sagalassos and in the North Portico of the South Agora at Aphrodisias both dated to the reign of Tiberius. On the other, it is already far away from late Hellenistic to early Augustan garlands (e.g. also that of an early Augustan gateway along the main E-W street, which own more to prototypes on metal vessels than to reality). This gives us a first insight on the different building phases of the Macellum, indicating that it was repaired at a later stage. In fact, the walls of the shop include several other reused ashlars.

The provisional date yielded by the study of ceramics--phase 9 of Sagalassos red slip ware (ca. A.D. 550/75 to 650/75)--together with the building techniques of the three rooms--mortared rubble including numerous spolia--seem to indicate a late dating for the complex of rooms discovered this week. The two first rooms, from their contents and location outside of the market building, can be considered as extra storage spaces. Their relationship with the Macellum itself will be examined in the following weeks, as well as the shops, which already provided us with some interesting results.

During the week, we also completed a new road from the Upper Agora sloping down to the Macellum, so that a crane can remove the larger ashlars.

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