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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The Dutch family Van Wijk on their fourth visit to Sagalassos.
Diplomat H. Van Tieghem with his family near the palatial mansion of Sagalasasos
Bilal with his bride and the witness of his marriage, our site manager Ebru Torun (right with the red scarf) throws his hands in the air after she had signed his wedding act in the ruins of our theatre, which thus became once more the scene of love and faithfulness as originally performed in many theater
The monumental new entrance to the 'kaymakam's' building

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Daily Life


The delegation from the Archaeological Museum at Tongeren tries to sniff the air of Sagalassos in preparation of their planned exhibition on the site.


Dirk Menten (with beard and dark glasses and grey hat, just left of the flag pole) receiving one of the many groups visiting the site this year.


The theater became the place where the local shop keeper had his wedding officially recognized.


Our guardians' kitten, thus far the only animal encountered on the site

July 13-17, 2008

The second week of this year's campaign was dominated by two main principles: reward/recognition and loyalty.

As for the award and public recognition, on July 14, Belgium's King Albert the Second granted me knighthood as a reward for my contribution to archaeology. The fact that I was one of only 15 new noblemen appointed this year, gave the whole event a special touch. From my side, I would like to dedicate my knighthood on the one hand to my team from the simplest workman from Aglasun to the top researchers of our Centre for Archaeological Sciences and my team of archaeologists, who have made my archaeological dreams come through, and on the other hand to my university (K.U. Leuven), which supported and encouraged me right from the start, when Sagalassos took hold of the rest of my life in 1986.

As for loyalty, when I started teaching at Leuven in 1986, I was not aware what the impact of my teaching was on so many students. I was suddenly confronted with it, when my "knighthood" led to a stream of congratulations from former students, either by email or by an old fashioned "letter." I have to admit that in many cases, I could no longer associate a face with a specific name, but I was astonished how so many students had followed the further development of my career and supported it by becoming "friends of Sagalassos."

Two of them, like many others who wrote me, in the mean time became a married couple: Dirk and Ilse Menten, who even "sacrifice" for 12 years now half of their summer holiday to guide "for free" many of the thousands of visitors who have become a common sight at Sagalassos. They do this with an enormous enthusiasm, some times up to five times a day or more, and this in three to four languages. The most flattering words of praise for their guiding work--written in the visitor's book, even by children--express the impact that they in their turn now have on our visitors. Some of them, like the Family Van Wijk from the Netherlands even have become "regulars," visiting the site this year for the fourth time. This phenomenon of "regulars" is both an increasingly common development and at the same time a sign of recognition for Dirk and Ilse's enthusiasm.

Other visitors included our number two at the Belgian Embassy at Ankara, the family Van Tieghem, as well as a large delegation from the Archaeological Museum at Tongeren, without any doubt the most active, most visitor friendly and enterprising museum of our country. It plans to set up an exhibition on Sagalassos shortly after the opening of the new museum site rising up in the Roman capital of the "Tungri," and the delegation came to visit us on their way to the authorities of the Ministry of Culture at Ankara to get the necessary permissions.

Quite a different type of "loyalty" was the fact that on Sunday, July 13, our theater located at an altitude of 1750 m.a.s.l., being both the tallest and the highest located monument of Sagalassos, was suddenly overrun by the wedding party of Bilal, owner of a stationary shop at Aglasun, who had selected Ebru Torun, our site-manager, as his witness. Where once bloody spectacles--gladiatorial combats and fights with wild animals--filled the arena which the former orchestra had become, love and promises of eternal faithfulness turned our theater back to what these buildings originally were: a place for putting on stage both happiness (in the comedy plays) and tragedy, which compose the life of every human being.

July 6-10, 2008

After a year (2007) during which health problems prevented me from being on the site myself, my return to the site was more than just an "emotional" event: it was also a moment of pride in my team, which had achieved so much important work during one season. In one of the last ARCHAEOLOGY magazine's issues, the AIA president, my friend Brian Rose, referred to our interactive website and its daily life section, mentioning my one "Indiana Jones" moment, when I had to jump from a rock being attacked by a horned viper. (See "Virtual Digging," July/August 2008.) This year, the "enemy" are not vipers, but a deadly kind of tick (kene in Turkish), which has already made victims north and south of the site, but which fortunately was not yet encountered at Sagalassos proper. We do hope that the mosquito repellent spray which we use and which it cannot stand, will keep it away from us. Thus far the only animal, I saw, was a little kitten adopted by the guardians of the site.

In the mean time, Aglasun is becoming a small town, that within a few months will absorb some large villages around it to increase its role as an "ilçe" (capital of a kaymakamlik or subdivision of a province). Perhaps to prepare this event, the entrance to the kaymakam's building this week received a monumental gateway, which also seems to refer to the Olympics at Bejing.

See last year's daily life

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