Macellum: July 29-August 11, 2007
The excavations of the Macellum continued for two more weeks, under the direction of Julian Richard and and Marijke Van Looy (both K.U. Leuven, Belgium) and Firat Kesim (Istanbul Technical University). The excavation and documentation focused principally on the southern and eastern edges of the Macellum's central courtyard. We also carried out a limited test sounding in the south extremity of the west portico.
Deep excavations in three sectors south of the central courtyard allowed us to make major progress in the understanding of the architectural and structural design of the south portico. During the three first weeks of the campaign, the documentation of the large amount of architectural fragments still lying above ground already permitted to have a better understanding of the portico's appearance: large straight architraves and cornice blocks, together with seven square column pedestals--the same as those of the west portico--indicate that the layout of the south portico must have been very similar to that of the other colonnades bordering the courtyard. It also means that all its building components should be found in the position of their collapse, despite the fact that some of the blocks slid down, along the slope separating the Macellum from the Odeion.
Prior to the excavations, we used the crane to remove all these blocks. We then started to dig in three sectors, from the southeastern edge of the west portico to the middle of the courtyard. It appeared that the southern extremity of the two-stepped krepis (staircase) supporting the west portico was no longer in situ but has completely collapsed. The choice we made to leave all the fallen building elements in the trench during the excavations allowed us to get a concrete visual impression of the way they fell. Most architectural members--pavement slabs, gutter blocks, and parts of the staircase--collapsed down slope in a southeasterly direction. The fact that these blocks slid and that most of them were found entirely preserved, favors the hypothesis of a localized landslide, causing the collapse of the whole portico standing on top of it. The presence of gutter slabs along the courtyard's south side and the fact that the architraves have an outer and an inner side indicates that the portico here most have consisted of a double open row of columns.
Farther east, along the southern fringe of the central courtyard, we exposed a 5 m long section of what appears to be the south terrace wall of the Macellum. The massive structure, built in rubble masonry, is ca. 1.9 to 2 m wide. Two structures found behind it particularly triggered our interest. We discovered two vaulted tunnels here that were apparently meant to support the pavement of the courtyard lying on top of them. These tunnels, carefully built in rubble masonry and covered by well-carved barrel vaults, run in parallel under the courtyard in a southwest-northeast direction, i.e. just underneath the south portico. Their function was clearly to support the whole structure and to compensate the steep slope of the natural bedrock substrate on top of which the northern half of the courtyard is resting, thus enlarging the latter toward the south. This major find helps us to understand the way the whole platform supporting the Macellum was designed. At the same time, the evidence for "landslide" under the southeast edge of the staircase shows that the terrace did probably not resist the event leading to the collapse of the complex.
Immediately south of the terrace wall, we found and recorded abundant remains of the south portico were recorded. The stratigraphy is rather similar to the collapse layers of the west portico found last year, but the architectural blocks are much more fragmented, possibly because of the height of the terrace wall from which they fell. Among them is a large inscribed architrave-frieze block bearing the word denarii. It recalls a similar architrave found last year, belonging to the west portico, which bore the price paid by the founder of the Macellum, P. Aelius Akulas: 50,000 denarii. Another fragment of the block, still lying upside down in the trench, will be lifted up next week. The indication of the sum figuring on it will then be readable and might be different from that of the west portico. Indeed, the Polish aristocrat K.G. Lanckoronski, who visited Sagalassos in the late nineteenth century, also recorded a distinct sum--13,000 denarii--on an architrave of the south (?) portico which is today missing. These price differences may be because of the fact that the western portico had shops behind it, whereas the southern portico was in reality an colonnade opening out on the landscape below. Among the other architectural members recorded from the south portico should be mentioned several fragment of unfluted column shafts in kaplan postu from Dokimeion and a nicely preserved Corinthian capital in white marble. These remains are comparable to those of the west portico found last year.
A second area we excavated during these last two weeks is the southeastern part of the central courtyard, up to the staircase of the east portico. As was the case to the west, the pavement of nicely dressed and perfectly fitting limestone slabs was very well preserved. The thin topsoil and collapsed layers, between 15 and 50 cm thick, on top of it contained an impressive quantity of architectural fragments. Most of them were found broken in very small pieces. Among them were noticed the remains of at least two Corinthian capitals and fragments of unfluted columns shafts. This bad state of preservation is because they fell directly onto the pavement at the moment of their collapse. Among the blocks, we also observed fragments of column bases with a molded apophyge. These columns were clearly of a different type (fluted) and material (limestone) than the rest. It could indicate that some of them have been replaced at a later date, as was already suggested in the report of the previous week. Further investigations in the portico itself should throw more light on this question, but the later dedicatory inscription found two weeks ago could point out the occurrence of restoration works at a later date.
The most remarkable discovery of the area is a well-preserved 0.71 m high and 0.55 m limestone statue base bearing a Greek inscription. The text, which is slightly eroded and eight lines long, refers to the offering of an Eros statue by a certain Aurelius Diomeidianos Makedonianos, occupying the function of proboulos (president of the boule/senate) of the city. As his political position is equivalent to the arche (ruler) of the city, he may have been the highest magistrate. The man is known from another third-century A.D. inscription copied by K. Lanckoronski (nr. 204) in the 1880s along the W-E colonnaded street of the town. That inscription is carved on an octagonal statue base for a governor of Lycia-Pamphylia of Sagalassian origin, where he was member of the boule and hailed as "benefactor" (euergetes): (Aufidius) Coresnius Marcellus. Pedestal and statue were set up by the city during the period when Aur(elios) Diomeidianos Makedonianos Rhodon was ruling the city (as proboulos). This document provides us with an insight on the kind of monuments once present in the eastern portico. Before the third century A.D., senators normally never became governor of their province of origin. This custom is well known during the third century, when several Sagalassian aristocrats made it to that job, however, not all of them belonging any more to the senatorial rank. In 2005 another statue base of a god, erected by a certain Attalos, son of Telemachos was found in the central open room of the Macellum's west portico (Macellum: August 7-11, 2005). As Eros has nothing to do with trade or food, the Macellum eventually became also a place for displaying art not related to the local activity of the structure. Another interesting point is his last name Rhodon, which was very popular in the family of P. Aelius Akulas' son-in-law. So he may have been related to that family.
Parallel to the excavations in the courtyard and the south colonnade, we also carried out a small test sounding along the earlier terrace wall found under the staircase of the west portico. We reached the level of its foundations and retrieved a substantial amount of ceramic material provisionally assigned to the second century B.C. According to our ceramologists, this represents a rather "pure" deposit of Hellenistic material and could help dating the wall, possibly connected to other early terraces to the south of the Upper Agora.
During the two last weeks of the excavations season, we will again focus on the south terrace wall of the Macellum, by extending the excavation trench over one sector towards the east. We should expose an additional section of the substructure tunnels, together with more architectural fragments of the elevation of the south portico. We should also excavate two more sectors covering the staircase of the eastern portico, and hope to get a better insight on its original layout.