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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Crustae and sham architecture ordered by trench, find number, sector, layer, excavation date and stone type
Area of research during the 2007 campaign
Breccia corallina crusta fragment
Parallel incised lines on a pavonazetto sham architecture slab ending up in a profile

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Markku Corremans and Jonas Danckers

Stone: July 8-August 30, 2007

Since 1995, the excavations at the Roman Baths of Sagalassos have generated no less than 80 tons of crustae and sham architecture fragments. The distinction we made between crustae and sham architecture is this: as soon as a piece of wall veneer was not flat, it was considered to be a piece of crusta, but if there was even the slightest hint of a profile or relief, it was considered to be sham architecture.


Porfido verde di grecia or serpentine crusta fragment

These crustae and sham architecture fragments had not yet been examined, but during this campaign the use of local, regional, and exotic stone types as wall veneer was examined in the light of the recent doctoral dissertation “The role of Roman and Early Byzantine provincial towns in Asia Minor as production centers, consumption centers and redistribution centers for the territory and the city” with Sagalassos as a case-study.

The aims of research were to identify the different types of stone used for the wall veneer of the Roman bath building of Sagalassos, to separate the crustae or wall veneer slabs from the sham architecture, to make a thorough quantification of the crustae and sham architecture of the Roman Baths to determine the amount of imported marble, determine whether there is a differentiation by room in the use of types of stone and if there is a link between the use of stone types and room function, and to provide first look at similarities and differences between the Roman Baths and other buildings at Sagalassos.

During the 2007 campaign, we processed about 10 tons (approximately 1/8 of the total amount of crustae and sham architecture of the Roman Baths). Rather than quantifying every single crusta unearthed at the Roman Baths, our methodology is to process a sample of every sector and room, then extrapolate the results to the whole asemblage and to do this systematically for every sector and for every room excavated in the Roman Baths. During this campaign sorting was narrowed down to parts of the frigidarium II, the apodyterium and the room connecting the apodyterium to the Kaisersaal. During this campaign the crustae have not been weighed yet, as we needed all the time for sorting. During the next campaign, we will weigh all of the sorted crustae.

At the end of the campaign the crustae unearthed during the 2007 campaign in the Domestic Area, Apollo Klarios, Colonnaded Street, Macellum, and Odeion had been examined and compared on a preliminary basis with the results for the Roman Baths.

The crustae were sorted on the basis of objective criteria and parameters, such as colors, background, flaws, veins, degree of erosion, and crystal size. Most stone types were easily recognizable, but some of them proved to be more difficult to identify. The identification of stone types, such as cipollino, kaplan postu, and pavonazetto, is usually pretty straightforward. Other types, such as afyon şeker, afyon bal, afyon beyaz, and afyon gri are more difficult to separate from each other as some of their characteristics overlap. In order verify the proposed identifications, stone samples were taken and sent to Leuven for further analysis in the laboratories of the Centre for Archaeological Sciences (CAS).

The most common stone types used for crustae are the ones from Dokimeion (present day Işçehisar, near Afyon). No quantification has been carried out yet, but it is already clear that most of the marble originates from Dokimeion. The most common marbles from Afyon are afyon şeker, afyon bal and afyon menekşe (pavonazetto). Less common Afyon marbles are afyon gri and kaplan postu. The most common stone type, apart from the Afyon marbles, is cipollino from Euboia in Greece.

These stone types represent the bulk of the stone used for crustae and sham architecture at Sagalassos, along with them we have identified small quantities of other stone types. These identifications still have to be backed up by archaeometrical research, although some of the identifications are certain or as good as certain. This is the case for the Afyon-marbles, cipollino, granito verde della sedia di San Lorenzo, porfido verde di grecia or serpentine, bianco e nero tigrato, breccia corallina, and rossa brecciato. Other identifications, such as greco scritto, fior di pesco, lumachella or madreporite rossa di sibilio, karacabey siyah mermer, and bigio antico, are less positive and have to be backed up by archaeometrical analysis. The identification of greco scritto from Annaba in Algeria is for instance less probable, because of the great distance between Sagalassos and the source of this stone type. Archaeometric research will have to shed light on the validity of this identification.

Different mixes of stone types were used for different rooms in the Roman Baths. Without quantification it is already clear that in the room that connects the Kaisersaal with the apodyterium, the amount of afyon şekeris relatively higher than is the case in frigidarium II. Also in the frigidarium II the use of cipollino as wall veneer and sham architecture is relatively more frequent than it is the case in the other rooms.

During the sorting process also crustae bearing inscriptions were retrieved. Most consisted of single letters, but pieces of the dedicatory inscription in honor of Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius from the Kaisersaal, were recovered. According to one of our epigraphy experts, one fragment once belonged to a poem, from which other fragments have been found in the Roman Baths in the past. One crusta fragment bore a di pinti, which was applied in red pigment.

As for sham architecture, it is clear that there is a great variety in the use of different types of pilaster capitals, bases, shafts, cornices, friezes, and other sham architecture elements. The stone types used for sham architecture in the Roman Baths are mainly afyon şeker and to a lesser extent cipollino. Also pavonazetto, afyon bal and afyon gri were used as sham architecture. In some cases rare stone types, such as breccia corallina, cipollino marina and some as yet unidentified stone types were used. There also seems to be a difference in the type of sham architecture used for the different rooms in the Roman Baths. As no quantification has been executed yet, it is not yet possible to give any concrete figures.

During the sorting process we retrieved lots of fragments of opus sectile, or tesserae. The most frequently used materials for the opus sectile is afyon şeker and to a lesser extent cipollino, pavonazetto, afyon bal, and a stone type that can possibly be identified as greco scritto. Most of the opus sectile fragments were elongated and rectangular in shape. The second most frequent form was triangular in shape. Also diamond-shaped and curved examples were also among the finds, as well as different kinds of eye-shaped opus sectile tesserae.

Some of the crustae bore incised double parallel lines, about 1cm apart, which run mostly parallel to the edges of the slab. Our discovery of a piece of sham architecture bearing similar lines, ending up in incised profiles, made it clear that the incised lines delineated the area that had to be cut out in order to create profiles.

Some of the flat cipollino crustae had reclining edges that created a slot only a few millimeters wide in which a flat object could be inserted. Judging from the ample presence of rust near and within these slots, it seems that a metal object had been inserted in them. A possible explanation would be that these crustae once held metal plates, which could have functioned as mirrors.

For the other trenches, the stone types and the proportions used for crustae and sham architecture are quite similar. This is especially the case for the Roman Baths and the Apollo Klarios sanctuary, hinting that both buildings made use of the same source or possibly the late antique church of the Apollo Klarios sanctuary made use of the crustae from the nearby Roman bath-building, which might have been (partially) in ruins by that time.

As is the case in the Roman Baths the majority of the stone types used for the crustae and the sham architecture in the other buildings are from Dokimeion. Once again the majority of the material consisted of afyon şeker, and to a lesser extent afyon bal, afyon gri, pavonazetto, and kaplan postu. Like the Roman Baths, we also found small quantities of other exotic stone types. In the Domestic Area, however, there is a strikingly ample use of alabaster. As for the other buildings, the stone types and the proportions seem to be quite similar.

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