Odeion: July 30-August 3, 2006
The first activity during the fourth week of excavations in the Odeion was the completion of the excavation of the staircase between Corridors 1 and 2. This was accomplished quickly, so now one can fully admire the entire imposing staircase complex at a place previously assumed to have contained almost nothing standing. Standing in front of the vaulted stairway in Corridor 1, one can see the impressive ca.7.5 meter-high wall that rises above the short passage to the intermediary landing in Corridor 2. From there, two longer staircases depart to an eastern entrance, which is now blocked, and to the western tribune for the honorary seats. This tribune is located above the vaulted opening between the stage front and Corridor 1 and was exposed last year (see Odeion: July 16-27, 2006). The whole system may have been in use for a long time; the private entrance leading from the street east of the Odeion to the VIP lounge and podium shows later repairs.
||View of the intermediate landing of Corridor 2, with the colossal column pedestal originally standing among the spectator seats to support the roof. The picture is taken from Corridor 1.
Immediately north of Corridor 2, a shapeless mass of concrete, mainly consisting of mortared rubble, was found to be the substructure of the auditorium's removed seats. According to the father of one of the team's workmen, these seats had been removed as recently as 1933 and 1934. They were incorporated into the enormous terrace supporting the old Aglasun-Isparta road, which today crosses over the auditorium's stage building. This concrete mass consists of two parts with a sharp linear division in between. The inner (southern) half represents the springing of the concrete vault above Corridor 2. The much larger section to the north belonged to the auditorium proper and once carried the removed seats. A striking feature is the presence of two openings, one smaller (south), and one much larger (north), in the concrete mass. These openings were probably created on purpose to contain some stone structure of unknown function. This is evident from the fact that in both cases, the sides of the holes are perfectly vertical on the interior.
After clearing the VIP staircase that occupies two vaulted and parallel corridors, the team, supervised by Bart De Graeve of K. U. Leuven, returned back to the sector to the west of the vaulted entrance to Corridor 1. Excavations had already begun there at the start of the campaign. There, the top of a curved wall was found, and it follows the shape of the buried orchestra (a semi-circular floor between stage and seats) and departs from the vaulted arch between the podium and Corridor 1. Perhaps, we are dealing with the podium that supported the upper part of the cavea (spectators' seats) and definined the back wall of the curved corridor that usually separated two sectors of the spectators' seats. The corridor was used to provide easier access to the upper seats, but also to supply a space for guests to stretch their legs and talk with friends between performances. We might have a chance to find the lower benches still in situ, but it has not been possible to verify this yet, as we did not descend deep enough. Unfortunately, no images are known to exist of the Odeion before the seats were removed, so we do not know exactly how much was still preserved at that point. Although only a small part of the wall has been excavated at the moment, there are obvious signs of a late rebuilding, as some reused stones are clearly visible in the structure, including a row of orthostats (large stones placed upright) and an upper profile.
||The VIP staircase in Corridor 2. Left, leading to the VIP seats. Right, between the blocked eastern entrance and the intermediate landing. The vaulted staircase leading to Corridor 1 and the podium of the Odeion can be seen on the right.
At the end of the week, the team moved to the adjoining sector in the southeast segment of the podium, which was partially excavated in 2005. Last year, the team stopped about 2 meters below the actual level. The layer that is currently being removed here is the same one from last year, and it contains huge quantities of butchery refuse, especially cattle bones, but also sheep and goat remains (see Archaeobotany: July 10-14, 2006). This layer, 1 to 1.5 meters thick, was dated to the sixth century A.D., based on the pottery found inside. The team did not reach the podium yet, but will next week. Also, more of the inner stage wall has been unearthed, and it is even more obvious than it was last year that this wall underwent considerable changes throughout time. As the cleared area is still small, it is too soon to give a comprehensive explanation of the type of intervention and its exact chronology.
Another interesting discovery this week happened outside the Odeion, in a zone some 10 meters east of the building. While the team was clearing vegetation there to enlarge the stone platform for building elements from the Odeion, several large fragments of architrave-frieze blocks appeared, of which three were inscribed. They definitely belong to the Macellum (see Macellum: July 30-August 3, 2006), which occupies the hill directly above the Odeion. The fact that the inscribed stones formed a continuous part of one of the Macellum's building's inscriptions suggests that the courtyard of the Macellum, which toward the south did not have a row of shops, was closed off on this side by an open colonnade. Together, they constitute the largest inscription the name of the Macellum's builder:
"[P. Aili]os Rhodono/s dis Kononos/[A]kulas".
The strokes indicate the end of the blocks.
The three blocks with the inscription seem to have formed a single large architrave, which fell down and broke into two. After they were registered, the blocks were sent back to the Macellum, where they will be matched with the other parts of the inscription.