The Macellum: Report 2

September 1, 2009
View of a section of the courtyard's pavement, the water gutter, and the staircase of the north portico

View of a section of the courtyard's pavement, the water gutter, and the staircase of the north portico

One of the two circular gameboards carved on the courtyard's pavement

One of the two circular gameboards carved on the courtyard's pavement

The second half of the excavation campaign at the Macellum yielded some significant results. The northern half of the ca. 20 m wide central courtyard has been uncovered: the limestone pavement, the gutter collecting the rainwater falling from the portico’s roof and the shallow, 0.50 m high staircase supporting the northern colonnade were all found in a very good state of preservation. Among the specific features discovered during this campaign were two circular gameboards divided in four compartments found carved on the pavement.

The collapsed architectural fragments of the north portico

The collapsed architectural fragments of the north portico

The study of the collapsed architectural members of the north portico allowed an accurate documentation of the original layout of the Corinthian colonnade. Among the discovered fragments were recorded sixteen sections of the Greek dedicatory inscription originally figuring on the architrave-frieze blocks. Referring to Publius Aelios Antiochos Akulas, the local citizen who built the Macellum, the dedication bore the erased name of the emperor Commodus and honorific formulas praising the city of Sagalassos and the building’s founder. This series of inscriptions completes those from the west, east and south porticoes found during the previous campaigns, and also proves that the dedication of the Macellum was repeated on the four porticoes surrounding the central courtyard.

One of the inscribed architrave-frieze blocks of the north portico

One of the inscribed architrave-frieze blocks of the north portico

The excavations also shed light on the later phases of the Macellum’s occupation. The rainwater gutter running along the north portico’s staircase presented interesting elements in that respect. It appeared that two of the gutter blocks–those bearing a circular drainage hole, which were easier to remove–were at some point lifted up and put back vertically at their original emplacement. The reason behind this rather awkward operation could be an attempt to improve the carrying capacity of the drainage system. Indeed, below the easternmost of these gutter blocks – once it had been removed by the crane – the archaeologists found a blocked drainage tunnel (W. 0.60 to 0.65 m; D. ca. 1.25 m) running underneath the rainwater gutter. This tunnel must originally have ensured the drainage of the rainwater falling from the porticoes’ roofs and from the courtyard’s pavement into the underground evacuation system of the Macellum. The reason why it has at some point been blocked remains obscure. An impressive amount of finds were retrieved from this fill: no less than 219 coins were recorded, together with large fragments of ceramic vessels and butchery refuse.

During the last week of the excavations, the central tholos of the Macellum was cleaned on the occasion of the visit of the KULeuven Alumni. In a near future, the lower platform and parts of the elevation of the rounded monument will be restored.

The central tholos of the Macellum after cleaning

The central tholos of the Macellum after cleaning

Comments (2)

  1. Marc Jean-Yves says:

    Chers amis,
    l’équipe de fouille du macellum de Thasos vous salue. Nous sommes cette année en session d’étude et nous progressons dans deux directions principales : la décoration pariétale en opus sectile et la restitution des toitures (des milliers de fragments de tuiles !!!!).
    Avec nos encouragements et nos très cordiales salutations,
    Jean-Yves MARC,
    Professeur d’archéologie romaine,
    Directeur des fouilles des abords sud de l’agora de Thasos.

  2. Booker Sampselle says:

    New to your blog. Stumbled upon it browsing the web. Keep up the fantastic work. I’m hoping you update it regularly.

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