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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos

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

The Apollo Klarios Sanctuary: Aims 2007

On top of an artificially enlarged hill west of the Lower Agora are the remains of a late antique church. As it is obviously constructed with reused architectural elements, we believed that a temple had once been situated there. We carried out an architectural survey in the area in 1988 and in 2005 made the first archaeological test soundings in the church, in the north transept. Last year, the difficult terrain conditions--the enormous amount of architectural fragments scattered over the area--required larger-scale excavations. All vegetation within the church was removed, revealing the collapse of the building, and we began excavations in the east, in the apse, the southern transept, and in the center of the church. Further research of the Apollo Klarios sanctuary will focus on several issues, most of them related to the Christian phase of the area.

We wish to confirm the date of the successive phases of Christian use of the complex and to investigate whether or not there was a gap in time between the Early and Middle Byzantine occupation in the area the church, as the data from the 2005 excavations suggest there was (roughly between the mid-seventh until the eleventh century). Ceramics we recovered in 2006, however, might indicate that activity was resumed much earlier (the late seventh/eighth through ninth century). We'll continue investigations in the interior, from the excavated area in the east farther to the west, whereby we can systematically record the architectural fragments in the collapse layers and then remove them to the storage platform. We expect to uncover more of the post-Roman construction within the center of the church, allowing us to establish its plan and possibly its function (Middle Byzantine church?). We envisage a number of small test soundings underneath the level of the original church floors (now disappeared) to establish the extent of the later occupation. If evidence of the original pagan temple remains, we should encounter it within these trenches. Even if we find no blocks or fragments of an early foundation, it is still possible the bedrock itself was leveled for the construction of the original temple. We could ascertain this by a larger-scale sounding and a careful cleaning of the rock surface.

Excavation of the apse should be completed, in order to establish whether or not it was surrounded by a corridor, which would connect it to other churches of this model, such as the early basilicas of Xanthos or Aphrodisias. This will also considerably improve the visibility of the church structure to visitors.

Further excavation should be undertaken in the area to the south of the basilica, in order to 1) enable us to trace the extent of the cemetery and the Middle Byzantine settlement, 2) to find further chronological indications for both their lay-outs, and 3) to obtain skeletal remains suitable for a study of the genetic links between the late Roman and the Middle Byzantine population of the city to see whether the same people had occupied other parts of Sagalassos after the 640s earthquake and later spread out over the whole city again, or whether the mid-Byzantine population came here from the villages in the countryside, where life went on. This last item fits into the research of Dr. F.-X. Ricault (CAS Leuven), who, for the following three years will undertake a complete study of the anthropological remains of Sagalassos.

If some of the activities noted above are not possible for some reason, we could excavate along the northeast side of the church to see whether the cemetery continued on that side as well.

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