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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of the large plateau of Tepe Düzen from the South. The red arrow indicates the eastern extremity of the fortified site, where the blue arrow identifies current Sagalassos. Of the old city's acropolis (Zencirli Tepe, 1784 m altitude), only the beginning of the slope is visible on the left.
View of Tepe Düzen (red arrow) seen from the location of the NW Heroon at Sagalassos (located to the north of it); behind it, the fertile Aglasun Valley
The walls of the proto-urban site of Kepez Kalesi, to which part of the population of the Tepe Düzen settlement may have moved.
Map of the part of Tepe Düzen drawn this year, based on surface remains (red walls) or geophysical techniques (black structures that are completely buried). The blue arrows indicate the trenches that were selected during the first (trench I & II) and during the second week (trench III).

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

Tepe Düzen

Undoubtedly, the most important find at Sagalassos since 1990, was the discovery last year, during the "intensive" surveys by a team supervised by Hannelore Vanhaverbeke, of an Early Iron Age (EIA) predecessor of Sagalassos, located a mere 1.8 km southwest of the current site and within plain view of it. We had noticed the presence of some old structures there during a short visit in 1994, but did not realize that for years we had been looking every day on the oldest occupation of Sagalassos. Arrianos, one of Alexander the Great's biographers described, based on older sources, Saglassos as "not a small polis" (meaning both as a city or a politically autonomous and well-organized community). But the absence of any early remains in situ--after 16 years of excavations at the current site--was one of the biggest riddles that we were still facing here. Yet, Arrianos' description is so detailed, mentioning for instance the role of the flat conical hill that dominates the access to the current site (the so-called Alexander's Hill) in the defense of Sagalassos, that in 333 B.C. the latter city without doubt was already occupying its current location.

The discoveries of last year (see Suburban Survey: July 24-August 25, 2005) had identified the site as a very large area walled with cyclopean stones, stretches of which were well-preserved, while a 1784 m tall hill (Zencirli Tepe) formed a central acropolis with an enclosure of its own. On the lower plateau, some 22 ha of a densely occupied area was surveyed, full of fieldstones, which once formed the socles of walls in mud brick or pise (mud mixed with straw), and sherds (most of "coarse" pottery), tentatively dated last year between 800 and 400 B.C. with some isolated Hellenistic and even Imperial pieces. A master's dissertation by Dennis Braeckmans showed that most of the pottery was locally produced. Some of the fabrics even used already the clay from the valley of Canakli located 7 km farther south, that was also exploited for the production of the Imperial Saglassos red slip wares and their precursors made at Sagalassos from the second century B.C. onward to serve a regional market. From Augustus' reign until the early seventh century, this fine ware became one of the eastern red slipped wares or sigillata's produced at the scale of an industrial manufacture and exported throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Some of these Early Iron Age ceramics made at Tepe Düzen were also exported to nearby centers, whereas some of the latter also produced fabrics reaching Tepe Düzen, showing the existence of intraregional exchange between estates of local chieftains ("Herrensitze") and the first (proto-)urban centers. It also became clear that some of the "coarse" wares in reality had been decorated and even painted, but that they had been almost completely weathered after nearly two millennia of exposure at the surface.

Tepe Düzen was apparently almost completely abandoned in the course of the fourth century B.C., with traces of some sparse occupation in Hellenistic and possible even some later times, albeit never on the same scale as in the Geometric (ninth to late seventh) and the Archaic (late seventh to early fifth century) periods. In fact, toward the end of the season, Sabri Aydal's mapping showed that the whole site covered no less than 120 ha, which is an enormous size for that period and even later. For a comparison, one should mention here that the Hellenistic walls of Sagalassos only enclosed an inhabited area of a mere 12.8 ha, whereas, together with its industrial quarters, Imperial Sagalassos at its zenith did not cover more than ca. 40 ha. As there are no traces of violent destruction in the form of burnt layers or of masses of pise or mud brick turned into fired brick, war is very unlikely to have been the cause of Tepe Düzen's abandonment. The size of the proto-urban or even urban settlement, combined with the absence of visible cisterns or any active springs, most likely suggest that in this karstic region, in the course of the fourth century B.C., existing water supplies and sources may have disappeared as the result of seismic activities and the water table changed considerably, forcing the inhabitants out. The absence of tiles (appearing around 700 B.C. in Greece, but only gradually spreading to secular architecture), suggesting roofs in straw or hay, also confirmed by the apsidal form of some structures, suggests that most roofs remained to be covered that way, excluding the presence of cisterns collecting rainwater from the roofs. On the other hand, it is also evident that after abandoning Tepe Düzen not all the inhabitants settled in the much smaller, but water-rich current site, which was at that time nearly ten times smaller than the Tepe Düzen settlement. Some must have moved to other places, e.g. to the proto-urban site of Kepez Kalesi discovered during our surveys in 1994, which is some 15 km to the southwest as the crow flies. In that period, Kepez Kalesi was defended by impressive walls and towers, but had no public monuments inside, suggesting that it was rapidly absorbed into the territory of Sagalassos. The water shortage and deciding what to do about it might have led to internal strife and the division of Tepe Düzen's population into factions, which selected different places to settle.

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