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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Jeroen Poblome, Philip Bes, Athanasios Vionis, Nalan Firat, Dennis Braekmans, Elizabeth Murphy, Rinse Willet

Pottery Studies: July 24, 2008

Pottery studies at Sagalassos commenced on 6th July, its aim comprising two main topics. First, focussing on the pottery finds from this year's excavation and, secondly, a re-study of pottery finds excavated or collected through survey from previous campaigns. It is especially the second topic on which this report focuses, since the finds from this year have not yet been studied in detail. The restudy includes contributions by Philip Bes, Elizabeth Murphy, Athanasios Vionis, Nalan Firat and Dennis Braekmans.

Methodology has not changed greatly since three years ago, when the pottery template was introduced at Sagalassos. Herein, fabric and shape remain the two main parameters for classification of the pottery. In cooperation with the excavators, deposits are selected for full quantification including further interpretation on chronology and function, whereas other deposits are looked at for mere chronological purposes.

1. North-East Gate
As part of a wider program on pottery re-study for future publication, a number of selected deposits from the so-called North-East Gate on the Upper Agora are restudied by Philip Bes and Rinse Willet. The main focus was on the (presumed) occupational levels, within the general architectural and archaeological context.

The North-East Gate was largely excavated in the years 2002-2004. The pottery suggests activity in the last phase of occupation at Sagalassos, although a test trench carried out in 2004 revealed the remains of an Augustan building in this corner of the Upper Agora. However, the pottery mainly belongs to the later sixth and seventh century AD, as indicated by a number of leading forms of Sagalassos Red Slip Ware. Fragments were also recognized of a Cypriot Red Slip Ware bowl, most probably Hayes' Form 9 or 10. Furthermore, detailed study on imported (amphorae) fabrics the past few years allows us to recognize more such fabrics in the North-East Gate than before. Fabrics include Late Roman Amphora 1, 4 and 5/6, as well as fragments of an oinophoros in the distinctive micaceous Late Roman Amphora 3 fabric.

From a stratigraphical point of view, a particularly high number of joining fragments was noted both vertically (i.e. between different layers) and horizontally (i.e. between different grids), within and between the 2002 and 2003 pottery. As no truly complete vessels could thus far be reconstructed, and virtually all deposits contain a small fraction of residual pottery, and on rare occasions even some possible seventh or even post-seventh century AD sherds, we may consider several interpretations. For instance, we may be dealing with fill or dump brought in from the immediate surroundings of the site, and joining fragments in some of the upper layers may be one argument here. The interpretation of other find categories, such as glass or bone, may also shed further light on this picture.

These and other observations certainly help in interpreting what may have taken place during the later sixth and seventh century AD in this part of Sagalassos. The study of the finds from the 2004 excavations at the North-East Gate should provide us with more or less complete picture of the excavated area. Finally, together with the restudy of the pottery from the western portico on the Upper Agora, and both porticoes on the Lower Agora, we hope to refine our insights into both the ceramological and archaeological-stratigraphical picture of Sagalassos. Therefore, we expect to report in greater detail within a couple of weeks.

2. Production Study
The 2008 ceramic production study has been performed by Elizabeth Murphy. This study has focused on the material deriving from the Potters' Quarter of Sagalassos and has attempted to reconstruct the pottery production cycles of the workshops located there. The Potters' Quarter of Sagalassos has offered extraordinary remains of pottery and coroplast (terracotta figurines, lamps, and moulded objects) production. These exceptional remains include a broad range of materials including; workshop architecture, infrastructure, tools, and discarded products. Needless to say, the potential to reconstruct production cycles is not only significant in of itself, but these reconstructions can offer information regarding the economic role of pottery production at Sagalassos. Furthermore, these lines of research and developed methodologies can be utilized to begin broader studies concerning the role of pottery production throughout the Roman Empire.

The beginning of the 2008 ceramic production study focused mainly on a theme developed during the 2007 season regarding reconstructions of the kiln loading and firing process. Utilizing detailed measurements of various ceramic types, kiln loading equipment, firing chamber apparatuses, and kiln dimensions, preliminary reconstructions of pottery kiln loads were produced. However, as some ceramic types lacked adequate measurements, these measurements needed to be collected at the beginning of the 2008 campaign. With the collection of these measurements, a finalized reconstruction can be produced for publication. The last weeks of the 2008 ceramic production study were dedicated to preparatory work for renewed excavations in the Potters' Quarter! Commencing 27 July 2008, a late Roman coroplast workshop and associated kilns (dating to the late fifth-sixth centuries) will be excavated by Jeroen Poblome, Elizabeth Murphy, and Rinse Willet. A portion of what appears to be kiln firing area of the coroplast workshop was excavated in 2004, and it is the hopes of this season to complete the firing area and excavate the associated workshops. This area of the Potters' Quarter offers much potential for the ceramic production study, as such a centralized organization is relatively unique at the site. Unfortunately, the chronology of the coroplast workshop is quite complex, and a primary objective of the campaign is to distinguish the various phases of production at the workshop. In preparation for the excavation, the material deriving from the 2004 excavation was preliminarily studied by Elizabeth Murphy and Rinse Willet. The material offers much evidence for coroplastic production with many moulds and remains of oinophoroi (aka pilgrims' flasks). Additional study of the coroplast material is also being performed by Prof. Daniele Malfitana (L'Universita di Catania, Italy), who is studying the iconography and various aspects of moulded ware production. It is anticipated that the coroplast workshop material will be incorporated into the methodologies developed for wheel-thrown pottery. All in all, the preliminary results from the ceramic production study suggest great potential for Roman ceramology at Sagalassos.

3. The post-Roman period
The third post-Roman ceramics study-season started on July 6th and was completed on July 24th, 2008. The aim of this season was the study of pottery sherds from sites identified during the course of previous surface survey fieldwork (led by Dr. Hannelore Vanhaverbeke) in the suburban territory of ancient Sagalassos. The medieval and post-medieval finds were studied by Dr. Athanasios Vionis under the direction of Prof. Jeroen Poblome.

A preliminary study of the surface ceramics in the past had already given hints for settlement continuity in the area from the end of Late Antiquity in the seventh century to the modern era. This season's detailed study of surface ceramic finds has shown suburban site-use during the post-Roman era at 32 findspots, with an increased concentration during the Mid-Byzantine period from the tenth-eleventh to the mid-thirteenth centuries (Graph 1).

More specifically, after the troubled end of Late Antiquity in the seventh century AD, life seems to have continued on a smaller scale, confined within the walls of Sagalassos, on the sites of the ancient temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius and the former sanctuary of Apollo Klarios. Similarly, evidence for human activity during the so-called "Dark Ages" between the late seventh and mid-ninth centuries in the suburban territory is reduced to three-four sites (Graph 1), represented by handmade non-kiln-fired and wheel-made cooking pots, and closed vessels with a distinctive "pattern-burnished" decoration. This pattern of contracted rural activity during the "Dark Ages" is repeated at several regions of Anatolia and the Aegean, and is traditionally seen as a result of continued pressures by the expanding Arab Empire across the Eastern Mediterranean and the Slavic conquests from the North.

The Mid-Byzantine period saw a rise in the number of suburban sites (Graph 1), associated with the general economic and settlement recovery at the Byzantine rural provinces, represented by local common wares (single-handled cooking pots, table jugs, standing costrels and storage jars) and imported glazed tablewares with Green-and-Brown Painted, Slip Painted and Incised Sgraffito decoration (Figure 1).

Evidence for human activity in the succeeding Late Byzantine or Seljuk period from the mid-thirteenth to the mid-fifteenth centuries is as limited as that of the Early Byzantine era (Graph 1), probably reflecting a period of general unrest and reorganisation of the Anatolian countryside after the firm establishment of the Seljuk Turks in the region. The Ottoman period (mid-fifteenth to late nineteenth centuries) is better represented by local wares associated with agricultural transport and storage, such as Canakli transport jars and large storage vessels (pithoi) with a glazed interior.

4. The Urban Survey
The 2008 season urban survey pottery study of the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project started on July 6th under the supervision of Professor Jeroen Poblome. The aim of this pottery study is to determine the character, function and date of the ceramic finds recovered from the city survey conducted by Femke Martens during the 2001-2005 campaigns.

We started with the 2005 season urban survey pottery, followed by the 2002 and 2004 seasons. The pottery is counted and weighed after the determination of fabric and typology when possible, with the data entered into the so-called pottery template. The pottery comprises all periods, and the assemblage consists of a variety of regional fabrics for household wares and a series of tablewares. Most fabrics appear to be local/regional in nature, i.e. Sagalassos and Tepe Duezen production, with very few Canakli and Basaray sherds being identified; only a small quantity of imported sherds is noticed, notably amphorae. As far as chronology is concerned, the majority dates to the Roman period, but we noticed that especially in some sectors a quantity of pre-Roman (Late Bronze Age, Classical and Hellenistic) and a small quantity of post-Roman sherds (Mid-Byzantine and Ottoman) was present.

5. The Iron Age pottery
Work on the Iron Age pottery (eighth-fourth centuries BC), carried out by Dennis Braekmans for his doctoral thesis, deals with this year's work on Tepe Duezen, pottery from the site of Hisar as well as that from the Suburban Survey. Characterizing the attested fabrics provide further understanding regarding craft organization within the region and possibly the mechanisms that led to pottery production at Imperial Sagalassos. As this study will resume during the final three weeks of the 2008 campaign, more conclusive results are then expected.

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