Macellum: July 10-13, 2006
The excavations of the Macellum, or food market, began during the 2005 season (see Macellum, July 17-August 18, 2005). The building may have been the last structure of the upper city constructed following the layout of the Bouleuterion, or administration building. Its building inscription dates its inauguration to A.D. 167, when it was dedicated by P. Aelius Akulas to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, at the occasion of the emperor's victory over the Parthians. The inscription also mentions that Akulas paid 13,000 denarii for it.
The Macellum itself had already been described in 1894-1896 by Count K. Lanckoronski and by other scholars more recently (see Macellum, July 17-21, 2005). Our own preliminary surface studies suggested that the monument, occupying a terrace to the southeast of the Upper Agora, seems to have consisted of a square of about 21 by 21 meters. It overlooked the sloping natural landscape and the lower city to the south, surrounded on three sides (west, north and east) by a 4.75 meter deep portico and a row of workshops with a depth of at least 4.6 meters. The central part of the square was occupied by a tholos, a round, open structure with a diameter of 7.3 meters and a conical roof supported by columns on pedestals. The general layout of this complex is based on western Mediterranean prototypes, but by the time of the complex's construction, this type of structure may no longer have been perceived as "exotic." Typically, a macellum sold food and other goods catered to the tastes of the upper classes, and it acquired a reputation of being quite expensive.
Last year, the central space of the west wing of the Macellum (room 1) was unearthed. It had originally been a room with two columns in antis, between two rectangular pillars at the sides, which may have functioned as a kind of shrine for a god or goddess, perhaps Hermes or Demeter, protecting trade or subsistence. In late antiquity this shrine, like the rest of the complex, was thoroughly altered, although the original dimensions of the rooms may have been somewhat respected. Yet, most walls now consist of mortared rubble and spolia, or re-used building material, covered with plaster. This transformation seems to have taken place in the sixth century, possibly as the result of the A.D. 500 earthquake. During this alteration only the two corner piers were kept in place, whereas the columns in between them were recycled from other monuments. Afterward, room 1 still remained an open public space, but it no longer served as a place of worship. A door in its south wall led to another, not yet excavated room (room 4), which could be locked. Perhaps room 1 served for displaying goods that were kept or produced in room 4. Towards the end of the sixth century, the southern door was blocked with rubble masonry. A concentration of antlers and bones from fallow deer, some of them worked, suggests that during the final phases of its use, room 1 housed a bone workshop.
Behind it, but not connected to it, are two more rooms that were excavated: the fully exposed room 2, which occupies the wedge-like space between room 1 and an unexcavated building to the south of the Upper Agora, and the partially excavated room 3. Both seem to have served as storage places during the late sixth and early seventh centuries. Room 2 was completely filled with large jars, some of them still with their lids, and with smaller vessels for pouring, while the upper layers of room 3 yielded metal implements. The difference in level between rooms 3 and 1 suggests that the former belonged to the unexcavated structure along the southern edge of the Upper Agora and could only be entered from there.
The excavations of the Macellum started on July 10th under the direction of Julian Richard and Christine Beckers, both of K. U. Leuven, and Mustafa Kiremitçi of Dokuz Eyluel Universitesi of Izmir, Turkey. We decided to extend the excavations toward the southwest corner of the complex, where in situ door-posts, 1.46 meters tall, were visible above ground. We were hoping to find some more workshops to the south of rooms 1 (4.35 by 6.80 meters) and 2 (3.20 by 3.20 meters). A new trench located immediately to the south of room 1 revealed the existence of one more room: room 4 (ground surface: about 20 meters square). It appears that the in situ doorjambs of the east wall of this room were already recycled spolia: despite the quality of their workmanship, these doorjambs were carved from facetted columns. We were thus able to identify three distinct phases: the carving of the columns, their transformation into doorjambs, and finally the recycling of the jambs into the wall. As such, these architectural fragments and the context in which they were found provide us with valuable information on the chronology of the complex.
So far, in room 4, the excavation has reached the level of the collapsed roof, clearly recognizable in the stratigraphy by a thick layer of tiles and a large amount of iron nails. Below the roof, we hope to find a fair amount of material, including ceramics, glass, metal, and faunal and macrobotanical remains.
To the east of the room, two large, unfluted columns made of kaplan postu, a white veined, dark gray marble from Dokimeion, were visible in the trench's eastern profile. They seem to occupy the same position as when they fell. The columns must have belonged to the portico surrounding the Macellum's courtyard. They provide us with interesting evidence regarding the layout of the central part of the market, which we hope to excavate in the next few weeks.