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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The vaulted entrance to the Lowest Agora market building's ground floor
The survey team on top of the temple occupying the southwest corner of the Lowest Agora
One of the frieze blocks from the Imperial temple

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

The Urban Survey: July 27-August 2, 2003

Our urban survey team, supervised by Femke Martens (KULeuven), completed its first week of work, focusing this year on the southwestern area enclosed within the late Roman fortification wall (ca. A.D. 400). In the 2001 survey, the northwestern part of this area was identified as the city's oldest domestic quarter. Its occupation likely ranged from Hellenistic times until the seventh century and, apart from houses, it also contained industrial areas, some monumental buildings, and an early Byzantine church. This year, we want to examine the remaining (southwest) part to trace the extent and evolution of the domestic quarter, especially during the final phase of the occupation at Sagalassos, when the city's population may have been much less dense than in the middle and late Roman phases. Another goal is to see what impact the layout of the late fortification wall had on the urban area's occupation pattern.

So far, we have covered about 1.3 hectares (33 sectors of 20 by 20 m) between the domestic quarters surveyed in 2001 (to the north) and the late Roman fortification wall (to the south). The sectors were systematically covered by teams of five persons walking two meters apart in an east-west direction and each time returning two meters to the south in the opposite direction. Every meter, the visibility and density of all finds was assessed and counted and noted down on standardized forms. A sixth person registered all the finds. This year's survey worked with two such teams. All architectural remains are photographed and mapped. Further analyses of the chronological pattern and the geographical distribution of the finds will be made by processing the gathered evidence by means of the desktop mapping program MAPINFO 5.5.

The architectural evidence has, so far, demonstrated that the area was likely used for domestic purposes, as was shown by the many finds of parts of door and window frames, often displaying signs of later reuse. The ashlar-built houses were constructed on terraces, as also proved to be the case in the northern part of this area. So far no evidence was found of window glass or the presence of mosaic floors, although this may be because of the difficult surface visibility caused by a sometimes dense vegetation of kermes oaks. Pottery evidence will have to determine the chronology of the use of these domestic structures. In addition soil samples will be taken in order to trace possible metal pollution, which may instruct us on possible artisanal activity in the area close to the Western Necropolis, which bounds the survey area on the west.

We made an important discovery when we reached the area of the late fortification wall: an ashlar wall incorporated into the fortification wall proved to belong to the facade of a monumental building. Most of the this building's ground floor, which could be followed over 21 m with certainty (possibly extending to a length of 28 m), must be preserved beneath the soil, but only the two upper stone courses crowned with consoles are still visible. Within the wall we noticed an arched entrance. The building must have been of Imperial date, when it overlooked a currently still flat open space. The construction was also oriented toward an important road, which gave access to the Sagalassos from the southwest. We now hypothetically assume that it may have functioned as a kind of market building. North of its facade we found a parallel ashlar wall, together with large amounts of plain limestone tesserae. As this wall continues farther west than the visible part of the facade, the building must have been much longer than the latter. Further mapping of this structure may bring more clarity in the organization of this building. It is clearly a building composed of shops or depots on the ground level, with a porticoed upper floor. The survey of this area also yielded large quantities of tesserae belonging to a polychrome mosaic floor, some marble crustae and large amounts of large terra-cotta containers, which may agree with the presumed market function of the building.

The flat area south of the monumental building must have functioned as a paved open space or agora, and we now call it the "Lowest Agora" (see find of the week). Its dimensions are approximately 56 by 27 m. The hypothesis that this area may have been an agora is reinforced by the position of the ruins of the previously known "Southwest Temple," which bordered the southwest corner of this paved square in Roman Imperial times. The square's northwest corner was occupied by a second temple of Imperial date. Immediately west of the square and on the slopes below it, are visible the remains of at least three large Imperial mausoleia.

These finds show that the western domestic area of Sagalassos was bounded to the south by monumental structures. This area obviously remained an important part of the town, also when the urban area expanded significantly to the east in early to middle Imperial times. Just as the geophysical survey indicated that the eastern part of the town was extending much farther east than previously assumed (see Geophysical Survey, July 20-26) this can now also be suggested for the western part of the city.

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