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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The back wall of the Macellum at the back, the tholos remains at the front.
The goat's bell (late sixth-early seventh century A.D.) found in storage room 2 behind the Macelllum before and after its cleaning by the conservation team
Julian Richard removes one of the vessel fragments embedded in room 2's floor.
The front of room 1 (sacellum ?) of the Macellum emerging from the soil. In the background is the central (statue ?) niche.

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

Macellum: July 31-August 4, 2005

Excavation of the Macellum (food market) of Sagalassos continued under the direction of Julian Richard (KULeuven) and Mustafa Kiremitci (Izmir University). This week we focused on two spaces of the complex: room 1, one of the supposed shops, and room 2, the storage-like structure behind it. We finished clearing room 2, adding one more dolium to the seven unearthed last week, as well as an abundant ensemble of ceramics, glass, and metal. Amongst the metal finds, a goat bell was particularly well preserved, as well as five coins provisionally dated to the late fourth/early fifth century A.D. The floor level of this room consists of natural bedrock, whose irregularities were levelled with stone fill. The soil layers of the floor have been sampled in order to carry out flotation and broken pottery was sampled for residue analysis.

The excavation of room 1 was the wekk's main focus. Our purpose is to obtain a section through the western wing of the Macellum, through this "shop," the portico in front of it, and the courtyard up to the central tholos. The room's original layout is now clear: rectangular (4.50 by 5.58 m) and with a niche in the middle of its western wall (depth: 0.63 m). This niche was not, however, a door sealed off later, as suggested last week. Toward the east, the room was not closed off by a door, as was the case with two smaller shops to the south, the door posts of which are still standing. On the contrary, the facade of "shop" 1 was in its final state made of two reused columns (one Doric, one smooth) placed in a symmetrical layout relative to the room's side walls and the niche in the back wall. Three large unfluted column drums, one architrave, and one cornice of the portico in front of it, all made of limestone, have been measured, drawn, and removed with the crane to a recently laid-out stone platform. The frontal and the monumental aspect of this entrance shows that we are probably dealing with the central space of the Macellum's western wing. As it could not be closed off, it most probably may not have been used as a shop. The three other sides of the room have walls composed of mostly re-used material (ashlars) combined with mortared rubble and bricks. All parts built in mortared rubble were coated with red plaster, particularly well preserved in the lower part of the back wall. In the southwestern corner of the room, the plaster imitated ashlars with drafted edges. The conservation team took the necessary measures to preserve this plaster coating. In the west wall, three rectangular beam holes are also observable. They were probably designed to receive the beams of wooden shelves set against the back wall. As far as material is concerned, we have been removing a huge quantity of tiles and rubble. In contrast with the two other rooms excavated so far, the quantity of ceramic, glass, and metal is limited. This is explained by the fact that we are still dealing with a destruction layer. The floor level should be reached next week and hopefully will inform us about the real function of this space. Although completely rebuilt, it may still reflect the original layout. In that case, the open front and the niche in the back wall could suggest that one is dealing here with a kind of sacellum (or shrine) dedicated to the cult of Marcus Aurelius, to whom the whole complex was dedicated. Similar shrines have also been discovered in the Macella of Pompei and Puteolanum (Italy). The fact that the four original doorposts still standing to the south of room 1 have one side, which is carved as a semi-column suggests that the initial layout had also real columns in its layout instead of closed off walls. So the current front of room 1 may reflect its original one.

So far, the general characteristics of the architecture and the material recovered in the western part of the Macellum indicate that the building was greatly modified at a later period. Next week we will investigate the Macellum toward its center, reaching the floor level in room 1 and extending our excavation area into the portico and the courtyard, in order to recover as well both material and structural elements, which will help us to understand the Macellum's layout and function.

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