This week, we were joined by Istanbul Technical University architects (Ayca Taylan, Nazli Odevci and Nazli Tumerdem) and De Nayer Institute Sint-Katelijne Waver topographer (Inge Nackaerts, Belgium) to record the churches in the western part of the city.
Ground-truthing at the site of this church made the plan of the building completely readable. As suspected, it revealed a rectangular building oriented east-west measuring ca. 17.60 by 12.05 m, and accessible by three doorways in its west wall. An additional entrance was located in the western part of both the south and north wall. A 5.25 m wide and 3.65 m deep semicircular apse protruded from the east wall. The building was preceded by a narthex to the west. The three doorways identify the building as a tripartite basilica. However, we found no columns or capitals within the building that would have separated the nave from the aisles. Instead, many bricks and tuff blocks were noticed, which suggest that the arches were carried by built pillars. While some stone elements, like the blocks of the central entrance to the nave, appear to have been especially cut for this church, most of the architectural remains, including ashlars, columns, and an entablature block are spolia from earlier structures. For the time being, their origin is not clear. The walls, varying between 0.73 and 1.15 m in thickness, have a double face of ashlars filled in with mortared rubble.
We set out 5-by-5 m grids over the building, within which we collected surface finds, mainly floor mosaic tesserae apart from a few sherds. A single piece of marble revetment was found, but there were no traces of wall plaster or other wall veneering, nor any other decorated blocks, such as elements of the bema (chancel) or ambo (pulpit). This suggests they were removed once the church went out of use, possibly some time after the mid-seventh century, when the city was abandoned. Consequently, we cannot establish a more precise date, other than the early Byzantine date suggested by the church's plan. Given the building history at Sagalassos, the fifth or early sixth century seems most likely.
Ground-truthing here clarified the plan of the church, but the colluvium burying its northern part and the strong erosion hampered a reconstruction of it. The in situ blocks suggest a rectangular building, ca. 22 by 9.50 m, oriented northwest-southeast. Of the church's eastern end, no traces other than parts of its front wall were found. To the west this was preceded by a 5.40 m deep narthex with possibly three doorways and a paved, open courtyard that can probably be identified as an atrium. The courtyard appears to have been accessible from the main east-west street running immediately south of the building by means of a staircase; the numerous slabs found on the slope can probably be identified as steps. These include elements from an unidentified early Imperial monument dedicated to the "divine emperors" by Tiberius Claudius Dareius, the father of Tiberius Claudius Piso, the first knight of Sagalassos. The presence of columns and capitals carrying the arches which separate the aisles from the nave, allowed us to identify the church as a tripartite basilica. Further study of the decorated architectural elements from this basilica, which will allow a reconstruction of the internal layout of the building and provide a tentative construction date, is planned for next week.