The Potter's Quarter: July 27-31
On 27 July 2008, after four years, excavation continued in the Potters' Quarter of Sagalassos. A regional production centre for Sagalassos red slip ware (a Roman-period table ware), the Potters' Quarter is a unique feature to the study of urban crafts production, and one of the few cases systematically excavated from the eastern Roman world. the area excavated this season is a continuation of the excavation of 2004, which excavated a workshop complex identified as a coroplast workshop. the material retrieved from the workshop suggests a specialization in the production of moulded items (lamps, vessels, terracotta figurines, etc.) as well as some red-slipped table ware types. the original excavation of the workshop complex produced the remains of numerous spaces and six kilns with several phases of activity dating from the late Hellenistic/ early Imperial periods until the late 6th century. the primary phase of production activity of the complex has been dated to the late Roman period (5th - 6th centuries).
Following a ceramic production study initiated last season, several new questions concerning pottery and coroplast production in the Potters' Quarter have emerged, and excavation of this workshop complex offers an opportunity to begin to pursue these new lines of research. the primary aims of the 2008 Potters' Quarter excavation are to clarify the chronological development, structural renovation, and phases of workshop activity, to identify more closely functional uses of workshop spaces and associated kilns for study of production organization and workflow cycles, to more closely identify the products associated with different spaces in the hopes of identifying possible product specialization, and finally, to pursue excavation of areas previously identified as magnetic anomalies (potentially kilns) by the geophysics team of Sagalassos. In order to pursue these objectives, a trench with three sectors was situated next to the 2004 excavation just west of a concentration of kilns in the complex. the excavation is to be performed by Elizabeth Murphy and Rinse Willet under the direction of Prof. Jeroen Poblome with the invaluable assistance of Şeref Bozkurt, Mehmet Ucak, Hasan Göze, Ismail Gökcen, and Ahmet Öz.
Although we have only completed our first week of excavation, this work has already led to some interesting discoveries, including; the presence of two new walls to the complex, a stairway possibly leading to an outside workshop area, and the beginning traces of a kiln. the nature of the architecture is rather modest with limestone rubble walls and a kiln thus far composed of clay and tiles and built into a corner of the walls; nevertheless, this area presents a significant extension to the overall plan of the complex. Already we have observed the presence of an additional workspace/room that appears to connect to the structure excavated in 2004. the material uncovered contains many items related to production activity, including; tools (a comb, hairpin, scraper, grinding stone, and many fragments of moulds), over-fired wasters of table wares and figurines, kiln spacers (clay pieces used to separate vessels when stacked in the kiln), and incredible amounts of pottery (a significant portion of which is moulded). the study of this material in future campaigns will offer critical information related to the operations of the workshop. In addition, the discovery of the kiln this summer has reinforced the importance of geophysical studies in the Potters' Quarter, as the location of the kiln was predicted by the geo-physics team from their remote sensing investigations over the area. In the last two weeks of excavation, we hope to complete the excavation of the kiln, define the new workshop spaces/rooms, and obtain additional production-related material from the workshop area.