Upper Agora: August 3-21, 2008
This report covers three weeks of excavation, lead by Hendrik Uleners (Leuven) and Ugur Altay (Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University), in the North East corner of the Upper Agora. Our aim was to remove the ramp in the North East of the agora, which was used for the missions crane and tractor traffic, so that we could complete our master plan of the agora and to reconstruct the activity and structures of the east porticos.
The first two weeks of excavation was concentrated on the west side of the porticos. We found, as expected, the continuation of a water channel (width varies from 1.40 m to 1 m) that ran in a north-south direction towards the Macellum. The channel is mainly covered by re-used flat rectangular stone slabs (more or less on the same level as the agora floor), but in the newly excavated trench it rose above the floor level and was partly covered by three column pieces. These columns may originate from the portico wall.
Directly to the west of this channel, we uncovered the floor of an older free standing monument (orientated north-south). Only this floor was preserved and so it is very difficult to identify its use at the moment. The monument (total size: 619 cm by 338 cm) seems to have been built in two phases: a Hellenistic (the northern part: 279 cm long and 334 wide) and an Imperial phase (the southern part: 340 cm wide and 338 wide). This later part seems to re-use the agora floor slabs. On this floor (all slabs were connected with clamp holes) one can see the negatives of a PI-shaped upper structure (261 cm long and 336 wide as its outer limits and walls as thick as 47 and 61 cm).
Between the east porticos wall and the water channel we uncovered the agora floor. On this floor we found a fallen column (diam. 47 cm and 242 cm long) and column pedestal (diam. 52 cm, square base 64 by 67 cm, height 78 cm). The original location of the pedestal is even visible on the portico wall. This makes it possible for us to re-erect the pedestal and column in its original position. We were already able to this for three pedestals (the type is always slightly different but the size is about the same). The distance between the pedestals can vary: in this case there was a space of 2.14 and 2.44 m in between them.
In total, we also uncovered 10 water pipes (the longest preserved one is about 829 cm and the shortest is 78 cm) that run from the nymphaeum and north-east gate to the south and the east (under or through the porticos wall) and all were cut by the large water channel. Most segments have a diameter of 12 cm or 15 cm and length of about 33 cm, but one had a diameter of 22 cm and was 50 cm long. This type of segment was until now only found in the Potters Quarter and the Domestic Area. Most of these pipes were found because the floor slabs of the agora were missing where these pipes were located. The removal of the slabs and the installation of the water pipes must have taken place somewhere between the creation of the agora floor and the construction of the large water channel (this channel cuts all the pipes) in the Late Antiquity. Another clear indication of this is the alteration of the porticos wall and cryptoporticos wall (on which later more): a segment of 90 cm was taken out in order to install two water pipes and then partly replaced.
The third week we focused on the eastside of the portico wall (about 185 cm wide and two steps of an average height of 40 cm). After removing a 2.50 m high fill and collapse coming from the NE Gate area we started making a sounding of 1 by 4 m alongside the porticos wall. In the southern two meters we already had to stop after 60 cm (measured from the lower step of the porticos) because we encountered the two aforementioned water pipes. One of these pipes was connected with a settling basin (in this case a intact dolium of 44 cm waist and a 22 cm rim).
In the other two meters we are already at a depth of 1.86 cm and still continuing. We believe to have found the wall of the cryptoporticos. This wall is constructed out of:(from top to bottom) mortared tiles (45 cm high), then one row of ashlars (30 cm high) and then tiles (128 cm, bottom not yet reached) again. The wall was still plastered in some lower parts. We have indications that this cryptoporticos wall is preserved in our excavation area east of the porticus wall as we are at a depth where we can see the upper row of mortared tiles along the entire porticos wall.
Our last important find is that of the bottom of a lime kiln. The kiln has a irregular round shape of 57/61 cm diameter. The area around the kiln, which was found 1m in front of a door opening (clearly no longer in use then), covered with a large black ash layer followed by a grey (almost purely) ash layer. We intend to make a sounding in front of the kiln to find the praefurnium.