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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Map of the Roman Baths with the excavated areas on the east side
View of the Roman Baths toward the end of the week
The northwestern pier of the "central hall" is gradually being exposed.

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

Roman Baths: July 24-28, 2005

The two Roman Bath teams continued excavating the great central hall, with its four massive ashlar piers and probably containing the pool (natatio) of the main cold-water bath (frigidarium), and the northern hall, defined by six smaller piers. Five to seven meters of debris composed of various destruction layers cover both rooms' floor. In 2004, the discovery, in the middle of the debris covering frigidarium 2, of the remains of a meal composed of about 25 sheep and goats (consumed by an estimated 50 to 100 people), indicated that the bath complex did not collapse in one go, but that its wall veneer, stucco, opus sectile, and vaults fell down over perhaps several centuries. This explains why we found so many well-preserved pilaster capitals throughout the debris layers, and why the opus sectile floor of frigidarium 2 (see Roman Baths 2004) and the mosaic floor in frigidarium 1 were so well preserved.

However, these layers have to be removed to reach the floor level. This week about 750 wheelbarrows a day left the excavation area, which means an average of one every 40 seconds. Because top layers are being excavated, no major finds were made this week, just some pieces of wall veneer crustae, pottery, tesserae, and metal nails and clamps, as well as some animal bones. On several pier blocks, metal clamps were found in situ. These clamps, all of which seemed to have been hammered in, as well as large amounts of in situ plaster suggest that the original marble revetment slabs were probably removed at one time and replaced by plaster. The white stucco covering the piers was conserved.

Until now, we assumed that the pool or piscina in frigidarium 2 excavated last year belonged to the original building phase, completed during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161-180). This was because the room's solid-brick long walls certainly belong to the original building phase, whereas the four statues (two each of Aphrodite and Cupid) found around the pool also were of a contemporary date. Yet, after carefully observing and comparing the masonry in both frigidaria, it seems that the piscina of frigidarium 2 came from a later period. The masonry of two walls, built to seal off two original entrances in both frigidaria, is identical to that used to build the above-mentioned piscina but different from the masonry of the long walls. This strongly suggests a later date for the piscina. Therefore, the latter may have been part of the refurbishment of the complex in the later fourth century A.D., when the original room for the Imperial worship (Kaisersaal) was transformed into a second caldarium (hot-water bath). The transformation of the long room to the north of it into frigidarium 2 may have been part of the same project, perhaps creating the possibility for simultaneous bathing of both sexes in bath sections of their own.

At the end of the week, a brick wall with a curved niche similar to those in the south wall of frigidarium 2 was found separating the great central hall from the northern hall. This might suggest that originally the later frigidarium 2 continued into the northern hall, as the east wall, which now separates both rooms, seems to be of a later date as well.

[image]The stucco conserved on one of the piers of the "northern hall"
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