For more than a decade, research in the Roman Baths has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Flemish family L. Lamberts Van Assche and children.
In the Roman Baths (RB) two teams (RB 1 directed by trench supervisors Markku Corremans, KULeuven, and Ertug Ergürer, Erzurum University; RB 2 with Johan Claeys, KULeuven, and Onur Özer, Istanbul University, as supervisors) will excavate the large central structure at the eastern extremity of the baths, consisting of a presumed natatio (swimming pool) for cold water and two adjoining halls to the north and south of it. The whole structure measures about 53.6 by 16.75 m and is formed by a total of 16 piers made of huge limestone ashlars. The four massive central piers surround an area of 12.8 by 12.1 m, most probably containing a large natatio, thus forming a second second cold-water bath or frigidarium (frigidarium 1). Another one (frigidarium 2) of ca. 12 by 32 m was exposed last year, almost immediately to the north of it. The reason for this identification of the central room is the fact that we had had in 2001 partially exposed the western extremity of this central space. It contained a well-preserved geometrical mosaic floor and a small rounded pool (for children?). The absence of a hypocaustum system (a heated floor) identified the room as a cold-water bath or frigidarium. The northern as well as the southern hall on either side of it are defined by six somewhat smaller piers forming two identical rooms each about 20.5 by 16.75 m. The function of these halls has yet to be determined, but they could form a kind of gymnasium area.
After analysing the situation at the site, which is full of large fallen ashlars, and considering the possible options, we had to modify our original aims. The RB 1 team will thus concentrate its efforts on the northern hall of the huge construction, while the RB 2 team will work on extending the small part of the supposed frigidarium excavated during the 2001 campaign. It contained a semicircular basin and was recognized as a frigidarium.
The topsoil in the central part of this frigidarium was covered by dense vegetation composed of kermes oak and dotted by huge amounts of ashlars from the surrounding pillars and one or more arches, which they originally carried. Because of the rugged terrain and steep slopes we had to create an artificial road for the crane in order to reach the frigidarium (?). This road will also serve for future campaigns, when the southern pillared hall will be excavated. The crane, supervised by engineer Piraye Hacigüzeller (METU Ankara and EMA KULeuven), has already moved more than 50 ashlars and ashlar fragments to the stone platform. We made few finds here during this first week, unearthing some pottery, pieces of marble revetment slabs (crustae), and a couple of architectural fragments.
At the end of the week, it became clear that an aligned group of fallen ashlars between the southwestern and northwestern central piers originated from a collapsed arch that had once connected them. The exact dimensions of this arch will be established by further excavation, but the span, which they covered, is at least 12.15 m, which is enormous in view of the size of the blocks and shows the incredible capability of the Sagalassos building teams.