The North-South Colonnaded Street: July 30-August 3, 2006
For two weeks, Luke Lavan, a postdoctoral fellow at K. U. Leuven, worked on the excavation of the North-South Colonnaded Street (SS1), under the direction of Ine Jacobs, also of K. U. Leuven. His role was to make observations on the phasing and use of the road, and especially to detect phases of repair and any evidence of everyday use, through careful cleaning, contextualization, and excavation of the road surface. What follows here is a preliminary summary of his work; the results of any finds have yet to be incorporated into the summary.
The same street had already been partially excavated by Femke Martens in 2005 (see N-S Colonnaded Street, July 16-August 4, 2005). These excavations had established, through sondages, that the street was probably laid out in the first half of the first century A.D., possibly under Tiberius, when two monumental gateways were constructed on the avenue. Another sondage through an area of re-used paving revealed a late surface repair, probably to fix a water pipe on the eastern side of the avenue, in pottery phases 8 or 9 (fifth-seventh century A.D.) Two inscriptions had been recovered from the portico and the shop behind it, which were thought to be late Roman. The date of the street was confirmed this year (see N-S Colonnaded Street: July 10-27, 2006).
Unfortunately, the area excavated this year was denuded compared to last year, as it lay closer to the surface, and was exposed to the elements more directly. Perhaps as a consequence of this, the upper part of the portico had been completely destroyed and the surface itself was extremely weathered, though almost all of the slabs were still present. As a result, no gameboards were definitively detected; some possible candidates did appear, but faded almost immediately after excavation. Another possible consequence of the shallow soil was that surface layer 2, detected in 2005 and containing locally produced pottery sherds from phases 8 and 9 (mid-fifth to early seventh century A.D.), was absent. Only a very small stub of encroachment wall was detected by Ine's team; the rest had probably been washed away, judging from its relationship to the other walls detected in 2005. The absence of any portico column fragments, pedestals, or capitals from the area excavated in 2006 may also represent the rapid rate of spoliation from a thin soil covering.
Luke's first task was to carefully remove the soil between the stone paving, after Ine had removed the bulk of the overburden. It was hoped that finds, such as pottery and especially nummi (small late antique coins) from this deposit might provide some date for the abandonment of road maintenance. This earth was sampled by wet sieving, sector by sector, as no dry sieves were available. The coins that were discovered during the street excavation were identified by M. Waelkens as belonging to either the late Hellenistic-early Imperial period (Sagalassos city coins in bronze) or the fifth to early sixth century A.D.
Within the road surface, a number of tile pockets were encountered. These were dug separately, as possible casual road repairs. A big difference between those in the center of the road and those along the edges was observed. Those in the center, which yielded very few finds, were shallow fills where paving stones had cracked or sunk. But those along the edges, rich in finds, were part of two much larger scale repairs, using re-used material that ran down both edges of the street, probably in relation to water pipe maintenance. In several such repairs, the slabs had been completely removed. Probably, these late builders had removed all the slabs, some of which had broken, without noting where they came from. They then returned to repave the surface, squeezing in slabs and adding re-used stones where necessary, in a rather haphazard way. In places, they simply ran out of material and threw in earth, tile and brick.
After the whole surface was cleaned, it became possible to see clear differences in the organization of the paving, over the area excavated in 2005 as well as that excavated in 2006. These differences were distinguished on the basis of the paving alignment, joint design, and stone type. Most obvious was a carefully laid section of neat rows of stone, of between about 0.40 and 0.60 meters in width, that extended across the road surface from north to south. These rows corresponded with the section dated by sondage in 2005 to the first century A.D. The neat area was interrupted in two places by irregularly laid paving--in the south-east corner and toward the north center of the street. An area of large slabs with some re-used material, perhaps from a monument, was also obvious in the central northern section. Finally, the pipe trench repairs--areas of disturbed paving re-laid with some re-used material--were visible along the entire length of the street on each side.
Patrick Dergyse of K. U. Leuven prepared a short assessment of the street surface. He was able to state that the major differences in weathering observable across the road surface were due to the two different stone types that were used. This is not necessarily the result of two phases of building. Both types of stone occur within the aligned stone rows that probably represent the original paving, as described above. Rather, the two areas of stone likely represent stone from two sources, probably from different quarries. Patrick made very similar observations on the Lower Agora, where patches of slightly different stone types were used as part of the primary construction still visible today.
Two small sondages were planned for the street surface. The first was undertaken within the area excavated in 2005, on the paving against the west portico, where tile had been carefully laid. We hoped to date this repair and uncover information about any possible water pipes below. The sondage revealed that the "tiles" were actually architectural bricks, unlike the much smaller tiles (probably roof tiles) incorporated into the adjacent encroachment wall. These were laid, with one or two surviving stone slabs, over a layer of very loose, silty soil with some stone and tile inclusions. This seems similar to the phase 8 or 9 soil layer found last year in a similar position by Femke Martens in her pipe trench sondage against the eastern side. Below this layer (1) a water pipe (pipe A) was encountered, which had been cut into layer 2 beneath it. Excavation of layer 2 revealed an earlier pipe (B) which had been cut by A. This, along with a further pipe C (running against the portico wall) was cut into the natural rock, and covered by layer 2. A further pipe piece (D) was found in layer 2 on the north side but could not be linked to the southern section, and so may represent a single pipe fragment. This excavation took half a day to complete.
A second sondage was planned but could not be carried out because the excavation was terminated half a day earlier than planned, so the necessary equipment was moved to Apollo Klarios. It had been hoped to dig in the south-east part of street, under part of the irregular "crazy paving."
It is also possible to offer a few observations on the nature of the spolia used on the site and on the epigraphy of 2005, based on Luke's work in Leuven during the academic year 2005-2006. First, it seems that the encroachment is unlikely to represent the latest antique phase of the city. Well-organized wooden stalls, with topos inscriptions authorizing the selling of goods and dating to the fifth and sixth century A.D. have now been detected on the Upper Agora (see Upper Agora: July 7-12, 2006). These are rectilinear, and have the same size and orientation; they represent regulated commerce. Such activity is present on the colonnaded street, but is not connected to the encroachment walls. The inscription found on a portico base was identified as a topos inscription by Professor Dennis Feissel in Paris--"pro teketai [iu]lianou," or "the place reserved for [Ju]lian." Though not datable by letter form, this inscription is likely to be late antique, as such inscriptions elsewhere appear to be from the fifth to seventh century A.D., He also confirmed that the inscribed plaque found in one of the shops (see N-S Colonnaded Street: July 31-August 4, 2005) had letter forms dating no later than the third century A.D. This is a different conclusion than the one drawn by Werner Eck, who believed the meander pattern indicated a date after the fourth century A.D.
The encroachment walls laid out across the road (see N-S Colonnaded Street: July 16-23, 2005) probably belong to a medieval phase of the city. The building material used is very different from anything found in late antique phases on the site, when spolia use is very limited and often confined to major public buildings. In these medieval walls, not only spolia is used, but all available fragments lying around the site--small bits of tile, gameboard rubble, even portico fragments--taken from where they seem to have fallen. They also appear not to be set in mortar, as Femke Martens noted last year.
The late pipe trench repairs re-used bits of Doric capital, hexagonal statue base, and what is probably part of the rear wall of the Lower Agora's western portico, which was repaired around A.D. 500.