Glass Studies 2006
This season saw the continuation of a systematic and comprehensive analysis of excavated vessel and window glass (see Glass Studies: August 1-12, 2004, and July 31-August 18, 2005) within the framework of doctoral research by V. Lauwers. The work hopes to create an internal chronological seriation of glass--independent of other chronological criteria such as pottery and coins--by elucidating the different typological versus chronological contexts of glass at Sagalassos.
The geochemical program, initiated within the Centre for Archaeological Science (in collaboration with P. Degryse) also continued. One goal of this effort is to fill gaps left by the chronological sampling sequence and correlate the geochemical data concerning local "secondary" production of glass with its archaeological counterparts, which suggest pronounced changes over time. At the moment we can say that the glass finds from Sagalassos cover imports reflecting the whole technology of glass production from Hellenistic polychrome and heavy colored core-formed glass through late first-century B.C. mold-blown glass to free-blown glass that started from the early Imperial period onward. These "primary" glass chunks produced in possibly a fairly large number of glass-producing workshops were sent to "secondary" centers throughout the Empire, such as Sagalassos, where they were transformed into objects for the local market. The evidence for the late Roman-early Byzantine period seems to suggest the presence of perhaps fewer "primary" workshops, possibly using different natron sources, but supplying a large number of "secondary" centers (such as Sagalassos). How, the system worked in mid-Byzantine times--when natron was replaced by sodium-rich plant ash, possibly also produced in a limited number of "primary" centers--has yet to be established.
To further study the raw materials used for glass production, samples of glass chunks, production waste (found in almost all trenches) were taken for chemical and isotopic analysis. The origin of raw glass at Sagalassos needs to be pinpointed, although import of olive-green HIMT glass from Egypt and local recycling and decoloring of glass can be proven. Isotopic analysis will also be applied on the samples of Roman, early Byzantine, and mid-Byzantine glass in order to further illustrate the geochemical history of the Sagalassos glass. In the framework of a new project, tracking down the import strategy of Sagalassos, several pieces of Hellenistic core formed glass and early Roman millefiori glass (presumably of Italian or Egyptian origin) were sampled.
By the end of this year's campaign, we established the typological sequences of the glass assemblages from a number of areas:
- the late antique shops of the Lower Agora's eastern and western porticoes,
- deposits near the Tiberian SW Lower Agora Gate,
- deposits near the Doric Temple and the NW Heroon,
- from late antique shops inside the Upper Agora's west portico and NE Building,
- and finally those from mid-Byzantine strata on the Alexander Hill, the shrine for the deified Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, and the hamlet around the Temple of Apollo Klarios.
The last of these areas, in the mid-Byzantine period, formed a kastron, a characteristic type of settlement for that period consisting of dispersed hamlets around still (or again functioning) churches within the ruins of the old Roman cities, one of which (in this case the settlement in the shrine for Hadrian and Antoninus Pius) was fortified and continued to be named after the old city and perhaps also remained the seat of the latter's bishop (see Apollo Klarios: July 30-August 10, 2006). Bishops of Sagalassos are mentioned in literary sources until the eleventh century, i.e. the time of the kastron. On top of this, the Macellum finds from this season were so striking, that we decided (against our principle to study sites only when excavation is finished) to start already analysing the finds unearthed since the beginning of its excavation in 2005.
As preliminary results, we can already say that layer 7 of the Doric Temple, containing plenty of glass, was an early Byzantine floor level, related to the transformation of the temple into a watchtower, which seems to have taken place around A.D. 400. The layers above and below contained dumped material of early Byzantine origin. Also, the area around the NW Heroon on the opposing site of the same gate and street was clearly used as a dumping spot later in the period. In the past, the exterior face of the fortification wall, on either side of the city gate, had been identified as a waste disposal area, respectively, for building material (e.g. earthquake debris from around A.D. 500?) and animal bone (esp. chicken and bird), suggesting that it in late antiquity it was one of the city's "organized" dumps. In many cities of the Roman West the area just outside the fortifications was used for the same purpose.
The glass found directly above the pavement of the Lower and Upper Agora shows a large chronological and morphological variety, from late Hellenistic to mid-Byzantine date. Some of the oldest perhaps from below slabs, the oldest of which go back to the reign of Augustus. Yet below them, we have exposed at several locations traces of either Hellenistic paved areas of small size, or remains of platforms supporting Hellenistic honorific monuments.
On the Lower Area, the eastern portico had been subdivided, probably during the early sixth century, into a large thermopolion (a restaurant with hot food and beverages) in the north and shops to the south of it. These seem to have been completely depleted. On the opposite side of the square, however, the glass retrieved from the eateries or bars bordering the western side of the square show us a gradual abandonment of the complex, with vessels originating from a later phase within the early Byzantine period (comparable with the latest phase of the finds found inside the shops near the North East Gate of the Upper Agora (see Upper Agora: August 3-30, 2003, and July 4-29, 2004) and some sherds of the Macellum). Shops were also excavated in the past in the southern periphery of the agora, near the Tiberian SW Gate and staircase leading to the N-S colonnaded street. Here, a nearly complete early Byzantine goblet was unearthed. The high degree of completeness of this and some of the other vessels suggests that layer 4 was an occupation layer.
In the Macellum, there is a striking division between early Roman contexts and early Byzantine pieces, with a minor group of sherds belonging to the later phase of the early Byzantine period, more or less contemporaneous with those found in the eateries of the Lower Agora's western portico. The early Roman sherds belong to the floor substrate of room 4 (first two centuries A.D. but mixed with mid-fifth to mid-sixth century A.D. material from the "rich" layer above and with later dumped material (the date of that context, based on ceramics: 580/90-640) spread over rooms 2, 3, and 4 when these rooms were no longer in use, but before the roof had completely collapsed.
The overall abundance of bracelet fragments (both decorated and plain) in the middle Byzantine contexts of Alexander Hill, the temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius and the temple of Apollo Klarios, but this year even in the SW praefurnium of the Roman Baths (see Roman Baths: July 30-August 10, 2006) makes us to believe that in future times it will be possible to narrow down the Sagalassos chronology of this specific kind of jewelry. Especially important for further study is the comparison of these bracelets and vessel glass from stratified contexts with the results of the 1995 excavation of the intact individuals in the graves of the Lower Agora.