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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The Hadrianic nymphaeum (top) with remains of the Severan and Trajanic nymphaeum (bottom)
Soffit of an architrave decorated with a meander motif
Two pieces of an Aphrodite statue inside the Hadrianic nymphaeum's water basin

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

The Lower Agora - Hadrianic Nymphaeum: August 10-16, 2003

During the second half of the week, the Lower Agora North team started concentrating on the Hadrianic nymphaeum on a terrace above and north of the two fountains on the Lower Agora's north side. The architectural team of Gülnür Caliskan, supervised by Karel Paul continued its detailed and sophisticated recording of each block before its removal (see August 3-9). After removing the top blocks, a destruction stratigraphy appeared, so the intervention of the archaeological team became necessary.

The new nymphaeum, dated to mid-Hadrianic times (ca. 128-138), clearly seems to have been one of the most magnificent, if not the most beautiful, fountain of the city. Part of its back wall was already visible at the surface when the building was first investigated in 1987, but only this week did its excellent state of preservation became fully apparent. Toward the week's end, the back wall had been exposed to a height of 2.30 m above a cornice molding of the fountain's podium, decorated with nicely carved palmettes. Only 9 m, corresponding with nearly one third of the structure's total length, were unearthed. On the east side a 2.35 m wide side wing projects nearly 2.80 m in front of the building. The parapet of a basin (total width including the parapets: 3.10 m) is built against this side wing and still standing. The exposed section of the back wall, to the west of this side wing, has three niches, separated by 0.40 m. From east to west there is a rectangular niche (width 2.10 m; depth 0.45 m), a semicircular one (1.95 m by max. 0.50 m) and another rectangular one (2.55 m by 0.45 m). From previous studies, it is clear that the nymphaeum had two stories of an aediculated façade, and we have found elaborately carved parts of its entablature and of decorated corner acroteria.

From the first day, we found pieces of statuary and a base for a marble statue dedicated by his heirs, in accordance with his will, to Tiberius Claudius Piso, the first Roman knight of Sagalassos and the man who introduced the Klareian games in the city (see Upper Agora, August 10-16). It is clear that the building must have been the work of this family. The size of the base suggests that his bronze statue occupied one of the niches or aediculae of the first floor. During the same day, next and below it, two joining fragments of a life-size marble Aphrodite were unearthed. Only the upper part of her torso and her head are still missing, but the latter was found even as I wrote this report and will be shown next week. She must have occupied one of the niches of the second floor. Other statuary finds that will be discussed next week, are parts of two nearly 5 m high imperial statues representing the emperor Hadrian (117-138) and his wife Sabina, of which the gigantic head was recovered on August 18.

One of the best surprises was the fact that the podium is interrupted nearly every 2 meters by slightly projecting pilasters with well preserved reliefs (height 0.65m). The relief on the pilaster abutting the projecting east wing represents a woman holding a reversed jar on top of a pedestal. The two pilasters to the west are decorated with dancing Muses, from right to left, Klio, the muse of history, holding a book, and Terpsichore, the muse of the dance, playing a lyre. The first one is clearly a copy (except for the book) of two identical dancing girls on the Augustan Heroon's south and east podium (see Restoration and Conservation, July 6-12). As there were nine Muses and as the woman holding a jar must have a counterpart against the western side wing, more reliefs should be present in the unexposed part of the building. The building and its decoration has been rightfully chosen as the find of the week.

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