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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The auditorium of the Odeion filled with debris
The southeast corner seen from the West: Corridor 2 on the left and Corridor 1r on the right. On the left, the concrete substructure of the removed seats is visible. The lost uppermost step of Corridor 2 equaled in height exactly the slabs covering the flattened arch above Corridor 1, on the right, where the VIP lounge was located.
Corridor 2 with, in the background, the staircase leading to the VIP lounge, and, on the left, the arch leading to Corridor 1. View from the east.
Corridor 2 seen from the West with, in the background, the closed-off recycled door in the east wall and the bad upper part of the stairway leading from it to the landing, in the middle, where the pedestal (part of the roof supporting system of the auditorium) is visible. On the right, the arch leading to Corridor 1 and the podium of the Odeion.

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

Odeion: July 16-27, 2006

In the second and third week of this campaign, we proceeded with the excavation of Corridor 2, the corridor parallel and immediately west of Corridor 1 that was exposed last year. It is a vaulted, short arcade with a staircase inside that connected the corridors. The adjoining sector west of Corridor 2 was also excavated. During the first week, we had already removed more than 2 meters of rubble and debris from the collapsed vault and remains from the outer wall. Unfortunately, all activity in the eastern part of this area had to be stopped temporarily, because urgent conservation measures had to be taken to prevent the broken lintel in the east wall, uncovered last week, from falling down. The opening's blockage was restored and rebuilt, so it now completely supports the damaged lintel. Whereas the frame of this door or window in the east wall was richly decorated on the outside (see Odeion, July 10-13, 2006), both the lintel and posts inside Corridor 2 were completely rough, indicating that the doorway was reused as a spolium (recycled building element).

After the necessary conservation work, the excavation of Corridor 2 continued without further problems. While digging in the westernmost part of the corridor and the adjoining western sector, we discovered the top of a staircase, which we had expected. It is a continuation of the staircase that starts in the vaulted arch between Corridors 1 and 2, which we had already partially observed last year (see Odeion, August 21-30, 2005). Unfortunately, the uppermost part of the staircase is not well preserved, so it is not easy to imagine how the building looked like at the transition point with the cavea (area for spectators) and orchestra. We could, however, establish that there must have been a rather elaborate doorway at the top of the stairs, framed by two partially preserved smooth posts, which may have belonged to a vaulted door or arch. Another interesting observation is that the level of the uppermost step is exactly the same as the flattened top of the arch which connected Corridor 1 to the podium, exposed in 2005 (see Odeion, August 7-30, 2005). Moreover, it is clear that the staircase is missing its upper step. The horizontally cut off top of the arch between the podium and Corridor 1 is missing a row of slabs leading to the lost staircase step. In other words, the staircase in Corridor 2, which starts in Corridor 1, was only used to access the area immediately above the above-mentioned arch, which must have been the VIP lounge for the person presiding over or financing events in the Odeion. It also allowed him to reach the podium of the structure easily if he wanted to address the audience from there. The installation of so-called honorific seats, places reserved especially for the highest elite, were a common feature in theaters. This placement just above the entrance to the podium can be compared with the arrangement in the theatre of Aspendos and other theaters in Turkey.

During the third week, the excavation focused exclusively on Corridor 2. Our first assumption was that the opening in the east wall was a window, as it is situated at a very high level and rather small, with a width of only 0.2 meters. As digging progressed, another staircase appeared, and it connected to this opening, so it is obvious now that this is an entrance from the outside. The limited width of the room, and the connection with the passage to the podium, suggests, however, that this was not an entrance meant for the general audience, but rather for the members of the elite sitting in the special area. The two staircases in Corridor 2 met on a landing accessible by the staircase that connected Corridor 1 to 2.

As mentioned above, the door is very rough at the inside, and as the quality of the upper part of the eastern staircase is much lower than that of the rest of the steps, it is very likely that the entrance was totally rearranged at a later date. At the moment, we don't have a precise indication about the possible date of this intervention. Finally, this passage was blocked completely by a mortared rubble wall. A pottery sherd found between the stones suggests a that this blockage dates to the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century A.D. at the earliest. Possibly, it was connected with the construction of the late Roman fortification of c. A.D. 400, which may have incorporated the Odeion and Baths in the defence system. This could explain why the entrance was blocked and later even hidden behind a middle Byzantine water supply system (see Odeion, July 10-13, 2006).

In the middle of Corridor 2, a very large column pedestal was discovered lying on the landing. It measures 0.85 by 0.85 meters and is about 0.80 meters high. The column that it once supported must have had a diameter of no less than 0.70 meters. These dimensions, and also the position of the block, suggest that it did not belong to the scena of the building building, but that it must have had another function. The most logical interpretation at the moment is that it was part of a columnar support of the very large wooden roof of the Odeion. In other places, such as in the Bouleuterion at Miletos, the large ceiling was also supported by great columns placed inside the cavea. When we uncover more of the cavea over the next few years, we hope it will become clear if this was similar to the structure at Sagalassos. At the moment, we believe this was the case. The pedestal must have been placed there, and not pushed from above, as it is not damaged at all. It is similar to the column drums collected for potential reuse in Corridor 1.

By the end of the third week, the excavation of Corridor 2 was completed. The last 1.5 meters consisted of a dump layer with a high amount of animal bones, as was also the case in Corridor 1 last year (see Odeion, August 14-18, 2005). The ceramics inside this layer suggest a date between A.D. 520-590, which corresponds with the dates of last year. Together, they suggest that the Odeion went out of use in the sixth century A.D., and was eventually used as a dump for a cattle butcher's refuse!

On the last day of the third week, the landing between the two staircases in Corridor 2 was exposed. On the whole, Corridor 2 is as impressive as Corridor 1, with walls in good condition that reach a maximum height of 6 meters.

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